The Kaya Identity: The Case of Turkey

The Kaya Identity expresses carbon dioxide emission levels as a product of population, Gross Domestic Product per capita (personal wealth), energy intensity (energy per GDP) and carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per energy consumed). Developed by Yoichi Kaya, its mathematical notation is F = P(G/P)(E/G)(F/E) where F is carbon dioxide emissions, P is population, G is GDP, and E is energy consumption.

It can be calculated not only for global emissions, and hence for modeling, but also for individual economies. Although it has been viewed as tautological by some(1), the IPCC report also uses it. “The Kaya multiplicative identity. . . underlies the analysis of the emissions scenario literature.”(2)

The World Bank data make it easy to calculate the index. The chart below, produced using the Bank data, shows clearly the steep increase in Turkey’s carbon footprint. If the present trend continues, the carbon emissions are likely to increase for the foreseeable future.

Kaya_tr

It is obvious that population plays an important role in the size of an economy, and the bigger an economy gets, the more it will need and consume energy. Liberal economics primarily focuses on economic growth, which, regardless of how incomes are distributed or to what extent growth is translated into development, is deemed desirable for raising standards of living. One question at this point is how far we can go without depleting the world’s resources. Another question can be raised regarding climate change and global warming. However, in a capitalist, and therefore, consumption-based economy where firms produce commodities in a competitive (and also in oligopolistic) conditions it is difficult to imagine producers coming up with alternative (environmentally friendly, so-called sustainable) policies and technologies unless they are forced to do so through government regulation.

Energy intensity can be reduced by developing technology to increase efficiency in energy use. Furthermore, development of renewable energy sources (wind, solar and other forms of energy) should reduce carbon emissions, but again,  this is a matter of the extent to which governments can enact and enforce regulations to reduce harmful emissions. Otherwise, firms will carry on their business as usual, externalizing their costs regardless of any ethical considerations this kind of behavior might imply. Recent history has countless examples of such blatant violation of ethics and of regulation no matter how permissive or restrictive those regulations might have been.

In the face of global warming, which is well-documented now, it is imperative that governments, including those of Turkey, tackle these issues urgently otherwise humanity moves headlong toward its own demise.  As Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, recently put it, “If we collectively chicken out of this, we’ll all turn into chickens and we’ll all be fried, grilled, toasted and roasted.”(3)

References:

(1) Mario Bunge. Evaluating Philosophies. New York: Springer, 2012.

(2) https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/emission/index.php?idp=50 

(3) http://www.dw.com/en/global-warming-will-have-us-roasted-and-toasted-says-imf-chief-lagarde/a-18767380 

 

 

 

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Istanbul Temperatures: March 2017

As the disputes on global warming and climate change rage on at various levels, I checked the minimum, average and maximum temperatures in Istanbul in March 2017. This year’s temperatures seem to be higher than the 90-year averages (1926-2016).

March 2017 Temperatures Changes over Days

According to the State Meteorological Office, the historical minimum, maximum and mean temperatures were 4.2, 10.9 and 7.7 degrees centigrade. This year, however, these temperatures were 6.194, 14.19 and 10.23 degrees respectively.

March 2017 Temperature Differences

 

This year’s warmer temperatures may not seem to be very meaningful in and of themselves; however, considering that the overall context is a hot issue (no pun intended), there may be enough reason to worry about the higher temperatures of this year, as these may be evidence for the much feared global warming.

Data: NOAA

 

 

November 2015

This year in November the weather in Istanbul has been quite warm – unusually so. Whether it is due to the hotly debated climate change/global warming or it is simply because we are having a warmer November is beyond my pale. The political climate is certainly reaching the boiling point but that is not what I intend to show here, although I am very much tempted to do so. The United Nations Climate Change Conference started in  Paris, and some of the leaders have already made striking statements, indicating the imminence of taking serious measures such as the use of sustainable technology, energy efficiency and innovation. We will have to wait and see, however, if the participants can reach a binding and universal agreement on climate.

In a previous post, “Climatic Anomalies“, I had shown the increasing global temperatures. Given the anomalies that are reported and the Conference being held, I researched the average temperatures in Istanbul. According to the State Meteorological Office mean temperature in November between 1950 and 2014 was 7 degrees Celsius, mean maximum temperature 12.8 degrees and mean low 2.4 degrees Celsius.

Maximum, mean and minimum temperatures in Istanbul (November 2015)
Maximum, mean and minimum temperatures in Istanbul (November 2015)

This year, however, mean temperature has been 14.17 degrees Celsius, mean maximum temperature 17.13 and mean low temperature 11.27 degrees Celsius. The chart below shows the course of temperatures throughout the month of November.

Temperature fluctuations - November 2015
Temperature fluctuations – November 2015

Given that in many countries total carbon dioxide emissions and per capita emissions have increased in the last couple of decades, and in the face of empirical data, we seem to have good reasons to worry about global warming and its devastating consequences, as already stated by some of the conference participants.