Global warming culprits, judged by size

Kate Ravilious, “The seven deadly sinners driving global warming,” New Scientist, 15 January 2014

Global warming culprits, judged by size

IT’S a chart that no one wants to top, but global warming’s worst offenders, in absolute terms, are the US, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and the UK. New calculations suggest that these nations are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the global warming between 1906 and 2005. …

The US is the clear leader, responsible for 0.15 °C, or 22 per cent of the 0.7 °C warming. China accounts for 9 per cent, Russia for 8 per cent, Brazil and India 7 per cent each, and Germany and the UK for 5 per cent each (Environmental Research Letters, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/1/014010).

“It was surprising to see some of the less-industrialised countries with such high rankings, but this also reflects their CO2 emissions related to deforestation,” says Matthews.

As a visual aid, the team produced a map (above right) in which the countries are stretched or shrunk depending on their contribution to warming in relation to their size. Western Europe, the US, Japan and India are bloated beyond recognition; Russia, China and Brazil stay roughly the same; and Canada, Australia and most of Africa become stick thin. In this light, the climate contributions of Russia, Brazil and China don’t seem so out of line; they are in proportion to their landmasses.

Dividing each country’s climate contribution by its population, arguably a fairer measure, gives a different picture. When calculated this way, the top seven positions are held by richer nations, and China and India drop to 19th and 20th, respectively.

Read the full article here.