File this one under the not-so-surprising category. The Associated Press is reporting that for the first time in a decade, global carbon dioxide pollution fell. The reason for the drop is believed to be a slowing economy.
The AP report cites a recently released study in the journal Nature Geoscience that connected the economic slowdown with lower emissions levels. Basically, it comes down to this: Fewer jobs and less money mean less driving, less flying and fewer factories. All of this combines to create fewer emissions. "The good part of the [economic] crisis is that it reduces emissions," Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter in England told the AP.
The recession is credited with lowering emissions, but that isn’t the whole story. The Energy Department cites the slowing economy along with slightly better energy efficiency standards and better availability of clean energy as equally responsible for a 7 percent emissions drop in 2009.
As for around the world, the report shows that declines were certainly noticeable. “In 2009, the world spewed nearly 34 billion tons (about 31 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide. That's a drop of 453 million tons from the previous year, what the U.S. emits in about 26 days,” according to the AP.
But the drops weren’t consistent around the world. In fact, India and China are growing their economies and carbon emissions. China’s carbon dioxide pollution jumped 8 percent from 2008 to 2009. India's went up about 6 percent, according to the study.
So, I guess it depends on where you live on how you view the silver lining of this cloud. If you're unemployed in the United States and Europe, you may be able to celebrate the silver lining, but you would probably rather have a job. But if you’re working hard in China or India, that cloud is probably harder to see, especially through the smog.