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Global Warming's Terrifying New Math. Population crisis: Amid global population growth, a loss of urgency. Mamta, left, and Ramjee Lal Kumhar.

Population crisis: Amid global population growth, a loss of urgency

The rate of global population growth will largely be determined by their generation, the largest in history. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times) More photos By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times July 22, 2012 First of five parts JAIPUR, India — Ramjee Lal Kumhar and his bride, Mamta, first laid eyes on each other inside a billowing wedding tent festooned with garlands of marigolds. He was 11 years old. Their families had arranged the marriage. At 15 and finally able to grow a mustache, Ramjee made a startling announcement: He was done having children. "We cannot afford it," he said, standing with arms crossed in the dirt courtyard of the compound he shares with 12 relatives, a cow, several goats and some chickens in the northern state of Rajasthan. Horrified, his mother and grandmother pleaded with him to reconsider. "Having one son is like having one eye," his grandmother said. On a planet with 11 billion people, however, all those problems will be worse.

Must-read: ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’ Climate Progress “Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe — and that make clear who the real enemy is” CO2 emissions by fossil fuels [1 ppm CO2 ~ 2.12 GtC, where ppm is parts per million of CO2 in air and GtC isgigatons of carbon] via Hansen.

Must-read: ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’

Significantly exceeding 450 ppm risks several severe and irreversible warming impacts. [Estimated reserves and potentially recoverable resources are from U.S. EIA (2011) and German Advisory Council on Global Change (2011). Climate hawk Bill McKibben has a terrific new piece in Rolling Stone, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” It is getting monster social media numbers of the kind usually reserved for pieces on HuffPost about Kim Kardashian in a bikini: 66k FaceBook likes and an astounding 6300 retweets. The three key numbers are: McKibben writes too thoughtfully to summarize — and too eloquently to paraphrase. The three numbers I’ve described are daunting – they may define an essentially impossible future.

U.S. leads the world in cutting CO2 emissions — so why aren’t we talking about it? Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is making progress on climate change. We have cut our carbon emissions more than any other country in the world in recent years — 7.7 percent since 2006. U.S. emissions fell 1.9 percent last year and are projected to fall 1.9 percent again this year, which will put us back at 1996 levels. It will not be easy to achieve the reductions Obama promised in Copenhagen — 17 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2020 — but that goal no longer looks out of reach, even in the absence of comprehensive legislation. Why isn’t this extraordinary story a bigger deal in U.S. politics? You’d think Obama would be boasting about it! Awkward: that whole recession thing First off there’s the Great Recession, which flattened electricity demand in 2008. Click to embiggen.

For obvious reasons, boasting about the environmental benefits of the recession is not something Obama’s eager to do. Awkward: frack-o-mania Here’s U.S. electricity generation from 2000-2012. Worry, but be happy.

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