Here's an angle to the climate change debate we hadn't thought of: it's destroying our roads.

According to a new report by the Transportation Research Board, the problem is that the cars contribute to climate change by adding their fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere, and the man-made changes can then affect the weather, among other things. The TRB's study notes that almost 30 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from the transportation sector.

How bad is it? Scientific American calls the connection between cars (well, transportation in general) and climate change, "intimate and insidious." SA continues:

In recent years, U.S. transportation infrastructure has taken a beating from extreme weather. Record-level flooding in 2010 and last year washed out roadways in Tennessee, Rhode Island, Iowa and Wisconsin, for instance. And in Vermont, Tropical Storm Irene turned sections of Route 107 into gaping holes.
Intense weather also disrupts and delays mass transit and freight networks, leaving its mark in economic loss.

The picture above shows a road in Tennessee, "after intense rainfall and record-level flooding in May 2010."

The solutions, as listed in the TRB report, are legion, and all focus on reducing GHG in one way or another. Read it here in PDF.


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  • 53 Comments
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cars damage roads? AMAZING!!!
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whatever one thinks of anthropogenic climate change, and personally I think there is a correlation between CO2 levels and global temperature although I am not very interested in the argument as in either case I would favour building large numbers of nuclear power stations to take care of much of our energy needs, declaring that climate change will lead to increased extreme weather events is wildly speculative and hocus pocus, not science. We simply do not know enough to make predictions like that. Scientific American has for years now been taking the science out of 'Scientific American'. Faddism is not science. And I am someone who thinks, on balance, that man-made CO2 emissions will cause the climate to warm overall relative to what it would otherwise have been. If you want to know how accurate their climate models are, ask them for a forecast a month in advance. Climate is complex, with many feed back loops. This sort of statement is political, not scientific, with the aim of telling people that things are so bad that 'something must be done'. Prostituting science in order to encourage such desired action is not the way to go.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        You confused "weather" with "climate". There are over 40 "climate" models, and they've been used predictively, those predictions have come true. The climate models are always under revision, with added improvements, but this trend has been clear for 30 years.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          It would be rather difficult for the very diverse outcomes envisaged, not predicted, a term the modellers reject, to have all come true since they are mutually contradictory. I am not confusing weather and climate. The weather is climate over a shorter time scale. The complexities and feed-in or counterbalancing effects in both are to one degree or another analogous. The models are not remotely capable of discrimination to the degree implied by attribution of what may be increased severity of extreme weather events which may or may not be occurring globally to global warming.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          In the sixties, they were worried about global cooling. ahhhhhhhhh, but we're much smarter now
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      @ 2 Wheeled Menace I respect your choice to eat whatever you like, (short of cannibalism:). But I'm curious, humans probably developed our pre-frontal brains as a result of eating bone marrow, in addition we are equipped with a pretty well developed set of canine teeth ! Oh, and we also, along with pigs, need a substantial amount of Vitamin B 12, which is only metabolized by eating animals (yeast etc just won't do). I remember the fierce arguments between my son (now Doctor, then med student) and my daughter (much younger) when she was going through her vegetarian phase. She abandoned the vegetarian lifestyle, when he lost interest in the debate. Curiously, my son then married a fellow med student (now doctor) who is a vegetarian ! I guess it's just a matter of personal choice.
      • 2 Years Ago
      "As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease." Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?" "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency." UN Food and Agricultural Organization's report "Livestock's Long Shadow" “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains... the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        I'm a vegetarian who leans towards the vegan side of things.. I've heard these arguments.. and there is information on the contrary.. look up 'Joel Salatin' of polyface farms. He makes a compelling argument that livestock can actively regenerate depleted soil. It will most definitely screw with your head... but what he is doing seems to be working..! Consider also that an animal may require a lot of energy to produce, but an animal's meat is also nutritionally dense, especially if that animal is a herbivore. Organ meats for example, contain a level of beneficial nutrients that make even the best of plant based superfoods look like junk food! The end game of carbon emissions is not a pretty one. You can maybe slow it down 0.0000000000001% by going vegan or vegetarian. Woohoo! I think there are better reasons to stop eating meat/animal products. But i don't think this is the place to get preachy about it !
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        The trump card of unsustainability is Human population growth. If you fix that, nearly all of our practices become sustainable and we have a fighting chance to fix those few that aren't. If you don't fix that, then nothing else matters; even if we were all vegetarians, we'll eventually just run out of something else, like water. Or room.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          And religions, all wanting to be "the big religion" attempt to ban birth control. They have NO Incentive to limit population growth.
      Neil Blanchard
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes, human-caused climate change is bad for roads -- and for even more important things, like water and food and ocean levels. Climate change does lead to more extreme weather -- more drought AND more intense precipitation (rain and snow) and more record high temperatures. In a "normal" climate we should expect about an equal number of record high temperatures as record lows -- about a 1:1 ratio. This year we have 10:1 ratio, highs to lows. We simply must move to 100% renewable energy in the next couple of decades. Oil and coal are running out *anyway* so if we change now rather than later -- we solve two big problems at once! Neil
        super390
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        I think the spin of the article is that most normals don't give a damn about any of the important things you mentioned. All they care about is driving to their awful jobs and driving to the mall and avoiding paying any taxes for the roads they use. So if you show them that even with their venal, narrow agenda they can't escape the consequences of climate change, they have to start looking at more holistic solutions.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @super390
          if there is global warming; what makes you think we can escape it or reverse it ? Don't worry; the earth is in no danger. It will be here long after we're gone.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        Neil, that's why i hyperventilate about the environment a lot less these days. There is only so much carbon to expel into the sky. There's gonna be A LOT of death and misery when we run out of the gooey black stuff, but ultimately our species is likely to survive, and the worst case scenario is that mother nature gets a fresh start without us on it.. another ice age, and another layer of stuff for historians 100,000 years later to dig up and wonder about ;) We are way over the cliff, in terms of carbon numbers. We surpassed any ppm number ever recorded, a long time ago, and we are not seeing total pandemonium. The earth has been transformed many times. This is just another phase, whether we caused it or not. Enjoy your time here and tell your kids to invest in future coastal property ;)
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I'd say we're starting to see pandemonium, right now. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
          Mark Schaffer
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Look up climate inertia before trumpeting too loudly about what we are seeing and what we will see going forward.
      Carma Racing
      • 2 Years Ago
      What horse crap! - Buying into the fallacy that CO2 is a pollutant. At less than .04% of our atmosphere, it is insignificant as a greenhouse gas compared to water vapor, which is also a greenhouse gas and present in our atmosphere at levels up to 100 times that. Our plant life would cease to grow at much lower levels. Is the earth warming? Maybe, although it is odd that an estimated 400+ people died due to an exceptionally cold winter in Europe in 2012.... Consider also, that the earth has been warming for a long time. The area around the Great Lakes is still rising from retreated glaciers. Are people causing warming? Maybe, if you calculate each person's caloric output into the atmosphere, it seems plausible. Why is CO2 being demonized? You can get paid for demonizing it and it can be taxed.....
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carma Racing
        ROFLMAO! These are all "zombie arguments", i.e., arguments that have been debunked over and over and over, but they keep coming back. Go study some climate science. The "greenhouse" effect of CO2 has been understood for over 100 years, for starters. Your arguments are all debunked here, with links to the science to back it up: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php Here are the arguments by number: http://www.skepticalscience.com/fixednum.php I refer to you to numbers 42, 127, 15, 74, 32, and maybe 145.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carma Racing
        Why don't you eat a gram of plutonium? It will be less than 0.04% of your body weight . . . I'm sure you'll be just fine.
        krona2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carma Racing
        Ok, so just to clarify, there's absolutely no problem with introducing CO2 into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels and there never will be? We should continue to burn fossil fuels for as long as we economically can without any attempt to move to alternatives?
        super390
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carma Racing
        So we double the amount of CO2, and then the climate cycle intensifies. Thus there is more water evaporation, and the water vapor content of the atmosphere will start to increase. So based on your words, that will lead to further heating. Then the Siberian permafrost melts, logically releasing more water vapor, and also methane from decaying plant matter. Also a greenhouse gas, right? Then as the oceans warm up, the vast methane hydrate deposits in them dissolve, and are released into the atmosphere. When was the last time that happened? During a mass extinction event 400 million years ago in which an estimated 90% of earth's species were destroyed. Which sure cut down on the CO2 emitters. Too bad it took millions of years to sequester the carbon and end the crisis. Why take the risk? We spent trillions of $ buying weapons against the USSR on a claim that they were monsters who intended to wage suicidal war with us, and even a tiny, tiny chance of that being true was unacceptable. But when our enemy has no human face but our own, the precautionary principle goes out the window.
        EVnerdGene
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carma Racing
        carma, you came to the wrong blog unless you like rational vs emotional debate
      mustsvt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Of course the article failed to mention that we filthy humans expel the "poison" CO2 with every single breath of our dirty carbon-based lives. So everyone ride bikes, stop having kids and hold your breath please....
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mustsvt
        Lead by example! ;)
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mustsvt
        You first!
        EVnerdGene
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mustsvt
        if you ride a bike, you'll breathe in more O2 and expel more CO2 best to couch potato on the internet all day
        Mark Schaffer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mustsvt
        mustsvt, Using a fake name and then completely not understanding the difference between carbon already cycling through ecosystems and digging up deep sequestered carbon fossil fuels to burn shows you flunked science. The deep buried fossil fuels ADD to the total carbon cycling between land, sea, and air at a far higher rate than removal processes work. This explains the RISE in total carbon flux.
          Mark Schaffer
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mark Schaffer
          So "mustsvt". What do you know about the science of Anthropocentric Climate Disruption and how do you know it?
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mark Schaffer
          Mark Schaffer Mark, do you ever think when you post such gratuitously aggressive remarks, of the effects those remarks engender? Do you imagine that 'mustsvt' will suddenly change his opinion ? Or do you think that he will become more firmly opposed to that which you are advocating and reflect that when he votes? What do you want to achieve ? To be part of a small vocal minority with no influence, and unable to change anything, (but 'morally' righteous), or try to curb your combative manner and help persuade folk like mustsvt to support environmental policies ? Your choice !
          mustsvt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mark Schaffer
          Mark, so sorry that sarcasm and tongue in cheek comments are beyond your capacity to understand. I'm all for breathing and honest debate and reasonable solutions as long as a rabid vocal minority doesn't elimiate choices for the majority. The global warming cause has been greatly damged by finger wagging politicos and movie stars who scream about carbon footprints while jetting off to film festivals and living in their 25,000 sq foot houses
          mustsvt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mark Schaffer
          My God Mark, get over yourself. This is an automotive website, not a 24/7 climate study center. As for your obsession with my screen name take a look around and see that about 98% of people who post on blogs have screen names. Relax and breathe, at least while you can before the air is gone and the oceans boil....
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      Heat buckling of interstate pavement sends car airborne in Wisconsin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf0l3NO-35U
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Global Warming Deniers have solved the problem. In their graphs on the "little ice age" that occurred in England, they now simply drop off the last 62 years. The years with the Big Jump in human population and carbon output. So, erase the graphs, the problem is solved.
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Compared to the age of the earth, Homosapiens have existed on earth for no more than one thousandeth of a second when measured on a 24 hour clock. Yet, the arrogant Homosapien has concluded that man-made CO2 caused the current global warming weather by measuring the difference in CO2 concentration found in ice core and in the current atmosphere. Even if the ice core is hundreds of thousands of year old, it is still a measurement of a very short time compared to the age of the earth. Thousands of years before the European science community acknowledged the earth rotates around the sun, the Mayans gifted astronomers measured the wobble of the earth. They concluded that in year 2012 the earth would have completed one wobble every 25,000 years, and the world will come to an end as the earth collapsed. The current batch of scientists who proclaimed that global warming is due CO2 production from human civilization is no better than those of the Mayans astronomers who proclaimed the end of the world in 2012. Relatively speaking, the Mayans are better astronomers than the current batch of scientist from Scientific Americans as modern astronomers has confirmed the Mayan's calculations to be reasonably accurate whereas no such independant confirmation is possible for global warming. More than 600 years ago, the leading scientists in Europe believe the earth was flat; the sun revolved around the earth; heavy objects fall faster than light objects; there's no such thing as gravity because the Earth sucks.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        "More than 600 years ago, the leading scientists in Europe believe the earth was flat" Humans have known that the Earth was round since the time of the time of the Greeks. Eratosthenes calculated the its circumference to a very accurate degree.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          that was a circle, not the earth
        Mark Schaffer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Please don't feed the troll. It starts off by lying about it's identity and then wants to be considered a credible source of information. It is rather stupid.
        krona2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        I'm still surprised when the word arrogance comes up as a response to AGW. Such an odd idea that it's arrogance that has anything to do with it, like as a race we would want to mess up our one and only home., and be proud about it too. Anyway whatever you believe about the significance of human produced greenhouse gases we certainly do have the technology to really mess up the planet for a while, if we put all our efforts into using nukes just to see how much damage we could do I'm sure the results would be significant!
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Globally, from a high in 2008 and 2009, the general public has grown disillusioned and apathetic against GW and Climate Change. Confidence in the science and scientists remains high, but the reason for the general loss of interest in 'green' technology and 'green' politics, is largely due to one cause. Now this is going to be real hard for folk, like Mark Schaffer , PR etc, (and other green fanatics), to comprehend and accept, but you, your behavior is the major cause of the lack of public interest in the environment! Do you really imagine that hectoring abuse and ferocious name calling persuades anyone? Do you imagine that 'Carma Racing' has gone away inspired or simply more entrenched in his dislike of you, and the environment? It's very little point in you studying the science, if you then present it in such an obnoxious manner, that even GW/CC supporters wish you were wrong ! Of course, GW/CC extremists never blame themselves. It's better to invent conspiracies, find other reasons to blame, and shout even louder at a rapidly decreasing audience. Never mind, you can always smugly sneer at the general populace, as you sanctimoniously congratulate each other on how clever you are. Environmental movements have lost support because the majority of people associate them with the failed policies of the old socialist left. Radical demagogues with impractical ideology and confused science proliferate at environmental talk-fests. Nothing of any significance is ever accomplished. This is not the fault of the scientists, most of whom are appalled at the behavior, and distortions of their lengthy and careful research, by self-appointed 'advocates'. Great damage has been done by aggressive yelling, it time for environmentalist of all philosophies to calm down, and try patient persuasion. In particular, highlighting the fun and excitement of new 'green' technologies, portraying these new technologies as simply historical evolutionary improvements to existing technologies that will raise living standards even further. Just try next time you speak to skeptics, empathize with their fears, they may return that respect, and give some thought to your point of view. It takes time, be patient.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Not that simple. 1) People are not turned off by lies and aggression. If that was the case, many politicians would be out of a job, reality TV wouldn't be such a smash hit, professional wrestling? forget it. 2) We are over the gas price spike of 2008-2009. People are no longer seeking alternatives as much because gas isn't killing them like it was before ( at least here in the United States ). 3) Electric cars, plug in hybrids, and hydrogen cars have all failed ( so far ) to deliver on their early promises. This is no fault of the advocate, blame technology for this - the technology to replace and usurp the internal combustion engine still needs improvement. 4) Environmentally minded people are miniscule in number, most people think in terms of vehicle cost. 5) CAFE increases have meant that gasoline powered cars are more efficient. This is good enough for most people. Meanwhile, the use of public transit and bicycle commuting is on the rise. Hybrids are selling very well. More people are moving to urban areas. Yes, the green car is losing out, but don't write it off. Especially over some people you think are whiny.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @ 2 Wheeled Menace Oh, Australia doesn't just have the silly 'cap and trade' concept. We have a bizarre form of 'Carbon Tax ' . The tax works like this. The government tax's large polluters, in theory this should encourage those organizations to seek less pollutant technologies. However, since those large polluters simply pass the cost of t he tax on to the consumers, the government then pays compensation to the consumers to offset the cost of the carbon tax on the polluter , hoping to avoid the electoral backlash! The result is the polluter now has no incentive to stop polluting, as he can just charge more knowing that the government will reimburse the consumer. The only one losing out of this mad scheme is the taxpayer who has to foot the bill for this idiotic merry-go-round ! This is only one of many such ill-conceived initiatives.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @ 2WM No, it really is that simple. You can always find a reason it's not your fault ! I was not simply referring to vehicles, but all 'green' areas of public awareness. In November, 2007 The Australian people elected a new Centre-Left government, in preference to a economically highly successful conservative government, purely on environmental issues. An emissions trading scheme/carbon tax received 64% support. In less than 4 years the idea of a carbon Tax is so unpopular , along with green issues that the governments support is less than 30%. In nearly every western democracy, the 'Green brand' has lost popularity. In every survey, the principle reason given is a dislike and distrust of green advocates. What's so hard to understand? People are turned off by sanctimonious finger wagging. It's not the song that wrong, it's the singers!
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          You can have socialism or communism and terrible pollution. Look at China. Then also consider many socialist countries who have extreme environmental controls - do they manufacture much? Lack of socialism is not the problem here in the USA. It is the removal of the property rights system, it is an EPA that is completely neutered these days, lack of separation between business and state, and other various factors. But our environment has been worse in the past. The rivers in Ohio used to catch fire, major metros were smog pits ( like Beijing today ), superfund sites were growing in number, and cars were vastly inefficient and belched white clouds of smoke with regularity. We can do better, for sure. How about fixing our environmental controls and restoring property rights? It would be easier than instilling total socialism into a country that was born out of hard work and the free enterprise system.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Marco, now that i hear that your country got suckered into cap and trade, i understand where you are coming from. Sorry to hear it. But it is not image or negative association with environmentalism that doesn't sell green stuff, it's the fact that most green products are total snake oil. Regardless of the marketing angle that is used, the gems of the industry will shine. Even a Reagan republican out here has figured out how to put a gun rack in a Prius by now :). They're probably not hyperventilating about CFL bulbs as much too. Positive changes are happening, just a bit too slow for our tastes.
          Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          When you have PR companies and ignorant deniers putting out stupid 'information' to try and spread lies and doubts in order to get their way, it is pretty bad. It only takes 3% of 'scientists' to deny something and the right in this country will latch onto it, use their 24/7 radio/TV network to brainwash their followers, and claim that there is 'doubt' out there and people shouldn't have to change. There is no penalty for the evil capitalist oil companies that are making tons of money destroying the environment. Socialism sounds like a much better system if it would be able to tax them for the damage they are doing.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        @ 2 Wheeled Menace Oh, Australia doesn't just have the silly 'cap and trade' concept. We have a bizarre form of 'Carbon Tax ' . The tax works like this. The government tax's large polluters, in theory this should encourage those organizations to seek less pollutant technologies. However, since those large polluters simply pass the cost of t he tax on to the consumers, the government then pays compensation to the consumers to offset the cost of the carbon tax on the polluter , hoping to avoid the electoral backlash! The result is the polluter now has no incentive to stop polluting, as he can just charge more knowing that the government will reimburse the consumer. The only one losing out of this mad scheme is the taxpayer who has to foot the bill for this idiotic merry-go-round ! This is only one of many such ill-conceived initiatives.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          and your government has a new bureaucracy tax collected from industry - government's overhead = much smaller percentage back to citizens Overhead: twiddle-dumb, twiddle dees, that sit around figuring ways to make things even more complex and inefficient, vote themselves pay raises, and plan their retirement with their fat government pensions
        Marco Polo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        @ Ryan, That's right, try socialism ! The one system that created the greatest ecological disasters of all time! But hey, anythings better than blaming yourself !
        EVnerdGene
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Marco, Marco, Marco Didn't you hear; "the arguement is over" (Al Gore the journalism major)
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          @ EVnerdGene Yep, you're correct. It's pointless to argue with such people. The tragedy is that the actual science and the scientists is quite well regarded by the majority. It's the type of advocacy which has lost support. Every major poll and study has produced the same complaint among the general public, but will these people learn ? They do far more damage to the environmental cause, than 1000 skeptics. But the truth is that most of these strident advocates, have no real interest in the environment, they are just seeking a cause to be self-righteously bullying others.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      We are all guests on this planet. it does not matter if you believe in global warming or not, peak oil or not.. our existence here is temporary. Do a google search for the 'Vostok ice core' data. It seems that every 100,000 years, we get a build up of heat, then an ice age. We are near the time when an ice age would occur. We are up to 400ppm co2 and historical record shows co2 maxing out around 300ppm right before a heat peak. Population is still rising exponentially. How do you think this all plays out? We prevent a looming heat peak and ice age? Ha! Mother nature will get around to correcting this problem on her own time. Enjoy your time here on this rock while you have it.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        We are nowhere near the next ice age or heat wave. This is caused by a 200 year jump in carbon output as human population has multiplied 8 Times in 200 years, from 1 Billion coal burning life forms to 8 Billion. And the per capita amount of carbon we burn has jumped as well.
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