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One Great Recession benefit: a decrease in global carbon emissions.

One Great Recession benefit: a decrease in global carbon emissions.

Today, the International Energy Agency said that global carbon emissions shrank 3 percent in 2009, due to the Great Recession. The Guardian reports that for only the fourth time in the past 50 years, the world emitted less of the greenhouse gas than it had done the year before, because of declining industrial production.

Which means, alas, that the world will likely be back to increasing emissions soon. Indeed, the IEA report notes that to avoid climate change and all the catastrophes it promises, countries don’t have to shrink their economies, but do have to "[build] more than 350 new nuclear plants and 350,000 wind turbines in the next 20 years. [It] also estimates that by 2020, three-fifths of cars will need to use alternatives to the traditional internal combustion engine."

The IEA report reminded me of a fascinating study out of the London School of Economics, released last month. It found that promoting contraceptive use could be a lynchpin to combating climate change: fewer babies means fewer carbon-emitters, and fewer carbon-emitters means less climate change. 

That, in turn, reminds me of this. Oh dear.