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Czech industrial decline: 1894-2015

Pilsen's Synagogue, second largest in Europe, was built in 1888 and the final decoration was completed in 1893.

I was playing with

the interactive map of historical CO2 emissions around the world
and it's a lot of fun. There are people who consider CO2 emissions to be correlated with "evil". I simply can't imagine to be one of them; they are absolutely unhinged psychopaths. In the map above, you may change the year from 1750 to 2010 using the slider at the bottom. And you may click individual countries (Britain is the default one) to get detailed information about their emissions (and emissions per capita, plus percentage in the world) for a given year.

A reason why I consider the "CO2 is evil" advocates to be psychopaths is that the CO2 emissions are one of the best, albeit imperfect, indicators of the industrial strength of nations.

Emil Škoda's factory was founded in Pilsen in 1859.

There are lots of fun data in the interactive chart. You go to 1800 and find that there were no emissions in the U.S. When you move to 1820, the U.S. still had below 2% of the world's CO2 emissions. That's funny because in 1893 and 1894, the Czech lands produced 2.1% (1/48) of the world's CO2 emissions at that moment – a higher percentage than the U.S. had up to 1825. You shouldn't be shocked that a pro-industrial Czech patriot considers 1893 and 1894 to be his favorite years in the chart.

Those had to be great times. The economy was growing by some 15% a year, there were no communists or feminists yet and even the labor unions didn't exist yet. According to this CO2 criterion and many others, our lands' industrial importance in the world probably peaked in the 1890s.

The chart claims that up to 1860, our emissions were basically zero. To mention an important event in those years, note that Škoda Works in Pilsen, the largest factory in Austria-Hungary, was founded in 1859. From this moment on, I will mostly talk about the CO2 emissions per capita. If you allow me to jump for a while, in 2010, the Czech emissions per capita are said to be 11 tons of CO2 per capita per year. I will call it 100% in the following paragraph; the percentages will be expressed relatively to our 2010 per-capita emissions.

The famous Pilsner Urquell brewery founded in 1842 wasn't the last one. The First Stock Brewery (now Gambrinus) was founded in 1869 and the third brewery, The First Corporate Brewery (later Prior) was established in 1893 (picture above). Czech Pilsner Brewery (Světovar) was added in 1910.

Between 1860 and 1870, the per-capita emissions grew from 0% to 10% or so. The 1870s saw the most important growth up to 40% or so. The increase of the per-capita emissions was slower in the following decades but reached 80% in 1916; by that time, our percentage in the world dropped to 1.3%. (Our percentage peaked in 1893-1894, at 2.1%, as I mentioned.) The following years – the rest of the Great War and the first 5 years of Czechoslovakia – up to 1923 saw a decrease to 60% and 0.85% in the world. Growth up to 1929 – 75% and 1.0% again. Great depression, decrease up to 1934 – when we were at 50% and 0.83%.

J.K. Tyl theater: this building was built in 1902.

But then another increase occurred again in the late 1930s. And during the Nazi occupation – especially in 1940-1943 when we had to produce lots of weapons etc. – the Czech emissions per capita actually reached 100% (overall 1.2% of the world), the same 11 tons per capita as in 2010! ;-) In 1941, trolley buses were introduced in Pilsen (this was a small German-led update; trams were operating in Pilsen since 1899). Many things were similar as they are today. It was sort of a surprise to me; our country hasn't seen any increase in emissions in the last 75 years. There was no increase on the per-capita basis but because of the Sudeten Germans who were almost certainly counted up to 1945, our territory didn't really experience a significant population growth, so we may say that even the total national emissions haven't increased in those 70 years.

This should be compared with the total global emissions that exponentially grow and get multiplied by \(e\) every 57 years or so (doubling each 40 years). At least, this rule has been pretty accurate between 1750 and 2010. The exponential increase will probably (but not certainly) slow down in the future.
Let me stop flooding this blog post with photographs. Check e.g. this page for thousands of historical photographs of Pilsen.
Some firms were bombed at the end of the war so in 1945, the Czech CO2 emissions were back from 100% to 50%. Recall that the First World War had a similar effect: just like the climate alarmists, wars hurt and you can see this fact on the reduced CO2 emissions during heavy fighting.

In the post-war Czechoslovakia, the emissions per capita largely uniformly increased up to 165% (18 tons per capita) in 1988 when we were 0.9% of the world. The early 1990s saw the decrease from 165% towards 100% as the unnecessarily heavy planned industry got liquidated. This was the only episode in the history when the correlation between CO2 emissions and "quality of life and importance of the country" got broken and CO2 emissions dropped more than expected from the living standards. It was the free, deregulated market – and not regulations – that made it possible.

Since the mid 1990s, the emissions per capita would be kept between 100% and 110% (11 and 12 tons per capita) but our percentage in the world dropped up to 0.35% (1/285) in 2010.

Say whatever you want but the decrease from 2.1% of the world to 0.35% of the world seems frustrating. There are lots of countries that became industrialized after we did – and after all, the Czech lands weren't among the very first industrialized ones, either, they were just "close to those".

My main points are that
  • the traditionally industrial countries shouldn't be terribly self-confident because their relative importance in the world is likely to decrease, and it's ludicrous for you to try to accelerate this trend
  • when your national percentage of the world's CO2 emissions goes down, it's mostly frustrating, as you see if you think a little bit; yes, I mostly repeated the previous point
  • the decline of certain things is a good justification for a certain nostalgia
  • our CO2 emissions per capita are very close to those 100 years ago; it's silly to feel guilty relatively to our ancestors; instead, one must praise capitalism and the technological progress that have made – and are still making – so many things more efficient

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