Let’s accept, for argument’s sake, that you give a rat’s arse about too much carbon, and lay awake nights imagining the future when your children are armpit deep in tepid water, fending off the floating corpses of dead polar bears.
Right, now you are Green. But you did everything to stop this didn’t you? Solar power, wind power, ethanol, carbon trading.
The outcome of every one of these Green and bureaucratic interventions has been near enough the complete opposite of what you intended.
Solar power is a bankrupt industry rorted by Chinese dumping subsidies and a blot on every landscape where it has been introduced.
Windpower? Its most enthusiastic proponents are now the cunning mates of top Tories in the UK, where the extended families of the Conservative PM and his deputy are making fortunes from subsidies, while the only winners from windfarms are the landholding Lords who rent out the family estates for rows of bird-shredders.
Ethanol? BIG agriculture has taken that over (it’s BIG and you hate that). The result, further devastation of the rainforests and a worldwide increase in food prices that is starving the poor.
Carbon Trading? Scammed by governments and smart traders, collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity. Even in NZ, the ETS means $330 million in corporate welfare for BIG agriculture.
Every move a total failure, the only beneficiaries the very institutions and classes you despise.
Hey Greenie…you know what is working? The Free Market, that’s what. It is working for you.
Weather conditions around the world this summer have provided ample fodder for the global warming debate. Droughts and heat waves are a harbinger of our future, carbon cuts are needed now more than ever, and yet meaningful policies have not been enacted.
But, beyond this well-trodden battlefield, something amazing has happened: Carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States have dropped to their lowest level in 20 years. Estimating on the basis of data from the US Energy Information Agency from the first five months of 2012, this year’s expected CO2 emissions have declined by more than 800 million tons, or 14 percent from their peak in 2007.
The cause is an unprecedented switch to natural gas, which emits 45 percent less carbon per energy unit. The U.S. used to generate about half its electricity from coal, and roughly 20 percent from gas. Over the past five years, those numbers have changed, first slowly and now dramatically: In April of this year, coal’s share in power generation plummeted to just 32 percent, on par with gas.
America’s rapid switch to natural gas is the result of three decades of technological innovation, particularly the development of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which has opened up large new resources of previously inaccessible shale gas. Despite some legitimate concerns about safety, it is hard to overstate the overwhelming benefits.
For starters, fracking has caused gas prices to drop dramatically. Adjusted for inflation, natural gas has not been this cheap for the past 35 years, with the price this year three to five times lower than it was in the mid-2000s. And, while a flagging economy may explain a small portion of the drop in U.S. carbon emissions, the EIA emphasizes that the major explanation is natural gas.
The reduction is even more impressive when one considers that 57 million additional energy consumers were added to the U.S. population over the past two decades. Indeed, U.S. carbon emissions have dropped about 20 percent per capita, and are now at their lowest level since Dwight D. Eisenhower left the White House in 1961.