Thoughtscapism Goes Nuclear at Bonn COP23

CO2 map

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3 Responses to CO2 map

  1. Maarten says:

    Hi Iida,

    I really like the way you address the topics on this website. You link to a lot of great research that helped me to further understand certain subjects and/or put some fears or ideas into perspective. Thanks a lot for that!
    I do have to note though, that I find this visualization of CO2 emissions very misleading. Or maybe not so much the visualization itself, but the conclusion that the countries with the lowest emissions rely on Nuclear and Hydro. First of all, they’re very different forms of generating electricity. It seems a little unfair to me to group them. Secondly, in Norway there is no nuclear plant at all (which makes a case against grouping these two forms of generating electricity together). Thirdly, did this visualization take into consideration the population numbers and the spread of the population? It doesn’t seem to do so: the countries with the lowest emissions are also the countries with low numbers of population. Especially the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic states. It seems to me that a fair comparison is not possible without takes these things into account.
    It’s all good and well to advocate eco-modernism and I’m very interested in the ideas, but this map really isn’t ‘fair’. It seems very ‘out of character’ compared to the rest of your website. I just wanted to note that. I hope that you continue to back up the eco-modernist ideas with solid research, just as you have done with the greater part of this awesome website. Please do not resort to tactics like this.

    Best regards and keep up your good work!

    Sources: nuclear power in Norway:
    Demographics of Europe:


    • Jimmy says:

      Dear Maarten,

      (1) Norway’s climate success is related to its vast amount of hydro power, and the post did write “Nuclear and hydro”.
      Notice how the scandinavian country Denmark is in the brown? It’s because they are investing in wind power and not nuclear & hydro (not much hydro to be found there).

      (2) France is the 2nd most populous nation with ~67 million inhabitants after Germanys 80 million.

      The conclusions are crystal clear: wind+solar => brown countries , nuclear+hydro => green countries.
      Don’t be a brownie Maarten, be a greenie! 😀


  2. Hi Maarten,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I am also happy to get constructive criticism, but I have to admit, I find your criticism puzzling. We should care about countries’ efforts to decarbonise their electricity, which the map is a measure of. Nuclear and hydro are mentioned because those two are the largest contributors to clean energy. That criteria ‘groups’ them together, nothing more, nothing less.

    Looking at emissions of CO2 per unit of electricity generated is not misleading. It tells us how cleanly different countries are producing their electricity. Large countries are generating more electricity, smaller countries less, which will be very clearly proportional to their population size. Some countries may also have more or less industry, which influences the equeation, but how cleanly they are able to provide electricity to their industries also comes down to the crucial factor: CO2 emissions per unit of electricity.

    There are many smaller countries than Sweden, Switzerland and Finland, that have not cleaned up their electricity, meanwhile France, the second largest country, has done so. Clearly the problem is not the size of the population. The problem is the energy generation technology.

    It’s fine to look at emissions per capita, too. This one takes into account traffic, agriculture, and all other kinds of factors as well, but largely thanks to their clean electricity generation, Sweden, Switzerland and France are still among the lesser polluters, and Germany and Poland are some of the worst. Norway, while being a small country, is pretty bad in this metric, largely because they use fossil fuels in the *production* of their oil and gas. Luxemburg, out of all places, is a tiny country that is the worst of all.

    Looking at this metric is not a misleading or manipulative ‘tactic’. This is an honest look at the ways we can clean up electricity production, something we direly need to do. This report looks at these metrics also in relation to GDP, and notes that Sweden remains the country that has had the fastest decarbonisation rate *per capita*, by building nuclear power.

    What Sweden and France have done give us a blueprint on how other countries can do the same. More on that here: A BRIGHT FUTURE How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow By Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist:

    Hope you continue to be interested in decarbonisation efforts.
    Thanks for your interest,

    PS Sorry for not locating this comment earlier. It was unusual to find one posted under the gallery view directly under the image.


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