Among the rush of stories about today’s speech by President Obama, is Brad Plumer’s piece in the Washington Post, Obama tries the kitchen-sink approach to global warming. It include the following graph from the US Dept. of Energy:
This illustrates the current US pledge of reducing CO2 emissions 17% below the 2005 level by 2020. Seems fair enough.
Without implying anything about what Brad wrote, let me present an edited version of this graphic, in which I extended the vertical axis to zero and the horizontal axis to the year 2050, and I added an asterisk and notation for an 80% below 1990 emissions in 2050 goal:
Clearly, there is an astonishing amount of low-hanging fruit in our CO2 emissions. We can make huge improvements simply by pushing energy efficiency measures, as well as updating our infrastructure to something more Anthropocene-friendly — count the unnecessarily large vehicles in the parking lot the next time you buy groceries, for example. But getting all the way to the red asterisk will require a lot more than making those relatively painless changes.
Everyone here who thinks it will be easy, fun, cheap, or politically possible to achieve that 80% goal, please let me know how this happens. Provide numbers, show your work, etc.