Torturing greenhouse gas emissions rates

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, February 23, 2007

In reading an Associated Press article titled "Industries bump up greenhouse gas emissions rates" (Sunday's Juneau Empire), I was very disappointed at the typical one-sided environmentalist view which takes liberties with data generated by so-called "studies."

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I once heard someone say, "Numbers properly tortured will admit to anything," and this is very much the case here. The claim that Alaska generates more greenhouse emissions per person than any other state is purely ridiculous unless the study took into account total land mass and comparative population densities.

Alaska is nearly two-thirds the size of the entire United States (572 thousand square miles) and yet we only have roughly 664,000 people (based on a 2005 census estimate). Compare that to New Jersey with a population of 8.7 million on only 7,400 square miles, or California with a population of roughly 36 million on 156,000 square miles and the whole per capita argument loses all impact.

If, for example, the study showed Alaska emissions were something like 200 parts per million, and let's say California emissions were 900 parts per million, based on population alone, Alaska would be 14 times that of California. Yet the total emissions of California would be roughly4 12 times that of Alaska in an area roughly one-third the size. When looking at the per capita comparison, one could see how much worse Alaska is, but once placed in proper context with total square miles and comparative population densities, Alaska is faring far better than any state in the union.

Chuck Simerick

New Jersey

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