50% of All Carbon Emissions Have Happened Since Seinfeld’s First Season Episode

“The sea was angry that day my friends” — George Constanza

J.R. Flaherty
3 min readDec 15, 2021


Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

The first episode of Seinfeld aired on Wednesday, 5th of July 1989.

Since the premiere, we have emitted more than half of the carbon into the planet’s atmosphere, according to author David Wallace-Wells in his book, The Uninhabitable Earth.

Yet even then, we knew carbon emissions caused global warming.

I would walk to my mother’s house after school to watch Seinfeld on a Friday night. I even had a Swatch watch to support the environment — made of plastic.

It’s a shame we can’t blame those 19th century industrialists in England with their top hats and fob watches and chimney sweeps. They would make perfect villains. But we can’t escape the fact 85% of carbon emissions have happened since the end of the Second World War.

That’s 85% of all carbon emissions over one lifetime in the 20th century, while 50% happened in the past 30 years.

And we knew what rising carbon emissions would do.

We knew.

Our world in Data

We wrongly blame the Industrial Revolution for our current state of carbon emissions.

“Many perceive global warming as a sort of moral and economic debt, accumulated since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and now come due after several centuries. In fact, more than half of the carbon exhaled into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels has been emitted in just the past three decades.” — David Wallace

When we blame the distant past, it’s as bad as thinking climate change will only happen in the distant future. It takes no responsibility for future generations.

Meanwhile, developing countries insist they have the right to their own Industrial Revolution. This narrative needs to change, because it’s not the complete story.

The climate came to the brink of…