Unexpectedly Intriguing!
September 15, 2020

The estimated cumulative loss of GDP to the world economy since the coronavirus pandemic began in China now tops $11 trillion.

We are basing that assessment on the trend in the trailing twelve month average of the year over year change in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide measured at the remote Mauna Loa Observatory. Here, we find that the pace at which CO₂ is increasing in the Earth's air has fallen from a trailing year average of 2.91 parts per million in December 2019 to a preliminary estimate of 2.58 parts per million in August 2020.

The falling trend since December 2019 can be seen in the latest update to a chart, which shows the history of this measure against a backdrop of the timing of major world economic events since January 1960.

The cumulative decline of just 0.34 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere roughly translates to the equivalent of a $11.3 trillion reduction in the world's Gross Domestic Product. The default values in the following tool confirm the results of the math we have previously confirmed provides estimates of lost GDP in the right ballpark. If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool.

Change in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
Input Data Values
Change in Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere [Parts per Million]
World Population [billions]

Change in Amount of Carbon Dioxide Emitted into Atmosphere
Calculated Results Values
Carbon Dioxide Emissions [billions of Metric Tonnes]
Estimated Change in World GDP [trillions]

The cumulative GDP loss we've estimated is climbing up toward the $12 trillion global GDP loss the International Monetary Fund projected would result from the coronavirus pandemic back on 24 June 2020.

We think our near real-time estimates are running on the high side of a reasonable range of estimates for the amount of GDP the world has lost because of the coronavirus pandemic. That said, they are also the most current picture we have to quantify the economic impact of the pandemic on the Earth's economy.

References

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Earth System Research Laboratory. Mauna Loa Observatory CO2 Data. [File Transfer Protocol Text File]. Updated 9 September 2020. Accessed 13 September 2020.

Cederborg, Jenny and Snöbohm, Sara. Is there a relationship between economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions? Semantic Scholar. [PDF Document]. 2016.

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