Mind the Gap

Dr. Stoat points to an interesting bit of Gapminder abuse by RPJr and a rebuttal by Stuart Saniford.

This got me to wondering how well per capita CO2 emissions predict per capita wealth. I used a lin/lin scale and focused in on the wealthy countries.

The answer: while per capita income above $15K predicts higher emissions than below $15K, above that threshhold the value of emissions as a predictor of wealth is very small. (Dot size is scaled to total population.)
There are a few outliers on the high sides, all small countries:
high income: Bermuda ($73.5K, 8.6T)
high emissions: Trinidad ($17.4 K, 32T), Aruba($26.4K, 32T), Bahrain($28.5K, 30T) Kuwait($44.4K, 36T)
high on both scales: Luxembourg ($72.7K, 24T)
Conclusion: at least a four-fold reduction in CO2 emissions in North America (with present day technology) is compatible with comparable levels of wealth and well-being.
Technical note: to restrict the focus of your Gapminder graph, click the little arrow at lower right on a live Gapminder session.


  1. Thanks, Ian. I suspected as much. This is the same reason that Texas' per capita emissions are so much higher than other states.It is difficult to do the accounting in big countries, though. For instance, China digs up coal to power its own factories, mostly producing products for export. Should this be charged to China? Well, who else then? And how?

  2. In Trinidad and Tobago's case (and probably Bahrain and Kuwait to some extent) you're looking at outsourced carbon emissions. Apart from the emissions associated with oil and gas production and refining, we also are a major producer of LNG, methanol and urea, all for export.

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