Unexpectedly Intriguing!
January 14, 2021

Two months ago, we were concerned the global economy was teetering on a double dip recession.

Now, armed with measurements of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide measured monthly at the remote Mauna Loa Observatory through December 2020, we can confirm the double dip has arrived. The rate at which CO₂ is accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere decreased in December, following two months of upticks indicating a recovery in the global economy.

You can see the reversal for yourself in this chart showing the trailing twelve month average of the year-over-year change of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, which provides a general overview of this metric since January 1960.

Trailing Twelve Month Average of Year-Over-Year Change in Parts per Million of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, January 1960 - December 2020

The December 2020 downtick follows the COVID-19 lockdowns imposed by several governments in Europe beginning in September 2020, which have continued through the present.

Perhaps more notable is what the data does not yet show. The data through December 2020 does not show the impact of the economically harmful lockdowns imposed by states like California in the U.S., and it does not yet show the effects of China's latest large-scale lockdowns and in Japan.

Lower CO₂ levels related to the coronavirus pandemic may be offset by considerably colder temperatures the northern hemisphere. The colder-than-usual weather is driving increased coal burning in China and greater natural gas consumption elsewhere, which will mask some of the decline from reduced economic activity caused by COVID lockdowns.

Previously on Political Calculations

Here is our series quantifying the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Earth's economy, presented in reverse chronological order.

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