How Can We Stop Global Warming?

This is a simple tool for seeing how different policies might impact global warming going forward.

Select some changes to enact from the list below, click submit, and see how your changes affected the rate of warming in the plots below. Scroll down for more details.

Baseline growth % (default = 1.3)

Starting year

Halve aviation emissions per mile

Halve automobile emissions per mile

Halve landfill emissions

Halve livestock emissions

Make all soil usage carbon neutral

Halve heating emissions per BTU

Halve emissions from electricity generation per kWh

Spend one billion dollars per day removing CO2 from the atmosphere

The 'baseline growth rate' is the annual rate of emissions growth. 1.3% is a decent estimate for recent years, so leaving that at 1.3% assumes that, aside from the changes selected in the checkboxes here, the world economy grows roughly the way it has in recent years.

The checkboxes factor reduce emissions from a sector. For example...halving aviation emissions means dropping total emissions by ~0.75%. Say you drop aviation emissions by 50% so total emissions drop by 0.75%, then baseline emissions rise at 1%. Total emissions will rise at ~0.24%. You dropped them by 0.75%, then raised them by 1%. Even though aviation emissions dropped significantly, they're such a small part of global emissions that they get outweighed by general economic growth.

Another way of thinking about this...say you make the economy twice as efficient overall in terms of emissions per dollar, then double the size of the economy. You cut emissions by 50% through efficiency, then doubled that, so the economic growth completely cancelled out the efficiency gains. You can really roughly treat the 'baseline growth rate' as the growth rate of the overall world economy here. See Jevon's Paradox for an interesting and related topic.

When you select a year, what I'm actually doing is applying all of the selected options at that point but phased in over a 5 year period. If you make 'baseline growth rate' 0, you can clearly see how this is working in the CO2 plot.

Anyway...the model is not perfect or complex and there are probably better analyses out there, but I could not find a tool that let you compare the rough impacts of changes like these so I put this together. It is important to note that this model completely ignores positive feedbacks taking over (lower albedo due to sea ice loss, permafrost melting and releasing greenhouse gases, etc.), so it almost certainly underestimates the rate of warming.


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