Market forces Bring U.S CO2 Emissions to 20-year Low

Mostly as a result of the inexpensive American natural gas, U.S. CO2 emissions dropped to 1992 levels. We are also driving less. We reached “peak gasoline”in 2006 and from now on will use less. See the chart below.

Please also note that the big drop happened BEFORE Obama, so no credit to all those subsidies that produced pretty much no green energy. The interesting thing is that the U.S. is now the world leader in reducing emissions w/o those muscular measures called for in Kyoto. We are doing better than everybody else because of market forces. They really do work also in environmentalism.

This is probably the first place you are reading about this. Back when the U.S. was the "word's bigger polluter" we had news about that every day.

There was an interesting paragraph in the report of the drop. Bold italic are mine.

"Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere."

There is none so blind as he who will not see. Big government folks are often blind to the progress around them unless some politician can take credit.

Those international experts who claimed that the U.S. "had no plan" just don't understand how planning works. We have the most superb, sublime and subtle planning mechanism in the world - the free market - and we have the we have the worlds most intelligent, involved and imaginative planners too - the American people. That is why we always beat the centralized planners in practice, if not in theory. Sorry Al Gore, the true inconvenient truth is that markets work better than "brainy" guys like you.

One more thing from the AP article - "How much further the shift from coal to natural gas can go is unclear. Bentek says that power companies plan to retire 175 coal-fired plants over the next five years. That could bring coal's CO2 emissions down to 1980 levels. "

We have achieved in environmentalism much more than I dreamed of when I was a bit of a radical environmentalist in the 1970s. We exceeded all the predictions. If anyone had told me back then of the U.S. in 2012, I would not have believed them. I was similiarly pleasantly surprised by how fast we brought down "acid rain" or closed the "ozone hole". Now we are doing the same with CO2. It is easy to underestimate the imagination and power of freedom. I used to read the writings of the socialists of the early part of the last century. They made bold predictions about how good things could be if we abandoned the free market and went with planning. We have greatly exceeded their slow-moving dreams. We have the best planning system, even if it is too hard for dreamers to understand.

Posted by Christine & John at August 19, 2012 7:52 AM
Comment #351086

The Market can just as easily swing things back towards coal and greater carbon emissions if circumstances change. For now, we have a natural gas boom. But that could end.

For now, natural gas is a cheaper energy source. That could end.

The truth of the matter is, the market is kind of an illusionary entity to attribute things to, because the market is us, plus the nature of the real world, plus the laws by which we work, none of which adds up to something conscious, much less singular that we can attach responsibility to.

I believe we ought to be thinking ahead of the argument, both in policy and in our own individual life, not slavishly following it. We need to pay attention to the market consequences of policy, to be sure, but we should not assume that the solutions of the market are necessarily ideal. We should look at those solutions as simply the most expedient, and from those expedient solutions, we should prune away those whose profits or efficiency are built on pathological or deceptive behavior.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 19, 2012 10:10 AM
Comment #351088


You got it right - “because the market is us, plus the nature of the real world, plus the laws by which we work, none of which adds up to something conscious …” It is the world’s best system of distributed decision making.

Government also plays a role in markets. Smart policies work within the market mechanisms. Dumb ones go against it.

When you work with market forces, you can accomplish great things. If you try to oppose them, you accomplish only misery. Market forces are rarely ideal, but they are usually the best we can really achieve.

What we should do now is in the short term encourage natural gas to replace dirtier fuels. In the long run, other alternatives will replace all fossil fuels.

The problem is China and others. You often said that IF we set the example, others would follow. Well … where the hell are they? The Chinese emit twice as much CO2 as we do, even though their economy is much smaller.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 10:44 AM
Comment #351104
The problem is China and others. You often said that IF we set the example, others would follow. Well … where the hell are they? The Chinese emit twice as much CO2 as we do, even though their economy is much smaller. Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 10:44 AM

Why if it were truly market forces would China and other countries not have been swept along in the wave of market exuberance that caused the US to see such progress C&J? It is a global economy after all.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 19, 2012 11:15 AM
Comment #351106


Because markets forces do not operate as well in China as they do in the U.S.

The Europeans and other signers of Kyoto also are not doing as well as we are. We perhaps should try to figure out exactly what they are doing wrong and we are doing right so that we can try to duplicate it in other places.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 11:21 AM
Comment #351108

C&J, no matter the facts, no matter the logic, Stephen and libs like him will always argue that government knows better than the market and should direct the market as planers-in-chief.

Only if government is large and intrusive can liberals accomplish their group “rights” goals and diminish the “rights” of individuals.

Government has a place in regulating some free market activity for the good of all. It has no place in regulating free market activity for the good of some at the expense of others. And, government has no business at all in planing free market outcomes and results.

MMGW was and is a pseudo-scientific device that conveniently increases the power and scope of government at taxpayer expense and with a loss of more individual rights.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 19, 2012 1:00 PM
Comment #351109


I don’t understand why you cheer this on. You act like the free market beat the problem with CO2 as if there was demand in the market for CO2 reduction and the market rose to the occasion. What happened was there was just no demand for oil during the recession and more demand for natural gas since the recession. Less CO2 production is just a bonus that will go away at a moments notice if the market swings again.

The point of government intervention in an area is not about control over people as the right loves to pretend but just that there are things too important to leave up to the markets to decide.

Until you show an actual demand in the free market for CO2 reduction it’s going to be tough to sell this to folks like myself and I’m not going to be excited just because CO2 is low now when the market would increase CO2 as soon as it’s profitable again.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at August 19, 2012 2:33 PM
Comment #351110

Why is there an article in the conservate column on CO2? The conservative & the Republican position overwhelmingly opposes the idea that there is any such thing as man-made Global Warming, never mind the relevancy of CO2 levels. This rejection is reflected by both of the candidates.

Mitt Romney: “I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course. But I believe the world is getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past, but I believe that we contribute to that. So I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.”
Town Hall Meeting, June 2011

Mitt Romney: “”My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”
October 2011

As of right now, the GOP presidential candidate rejects the idea of man-made Global Warming. He has no legislative record concerning the matter.

*Paul Ryan: believes that scientists “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”

His voting record reflects a consistent and aggressive denial of man-made Global Warming.

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate EPA Limits On Greenhouse Pollution.

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate White House Climate Advisers.

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E).

Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate Light Bulb Efficiency Standards.

Paul Ryan Voted For Keystone XL.

Paul Ryan Budget Kept Big Oil Subsidies And Slashed Clean Energy Investment.

*synopsis of some bullet points from ThinkProgress

Conservative and Republican leaders consistently and aggressively deny the existence of Global Warming, never mind the relevance of CO2 to anything whatsoever. These voices include Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Senator Inhofe, and many many others.

Democrats and liberals, on the other hand, overwhelmingly accept the sciece behind Global Warming, including President Obama, VP Biden, and virtually all other leaders and voices.

And just to be clear, Greenhouse gases are continuing to be added to the atmosphere at a very high rate, and the level of CO2 and other gases is increasing.

The problem is global, not American.

The problem is denied by most conservatives and Republicans, and recognized by most liberals and Democrats.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2012 4:27 PM
Comment #351111


There is a role for government, especially in the environmental sphere. I am just pointing out here that the free market more effectively achieved a result than all the government talk.

We waste lots of time on big international conferences where the peripatetic “wise men and women” pontificate about the perils of global warming. They demand solutions that will include lots of planning by people like them and lots of money for people like them to attend more conferences

Here in America, we did better than anyone else in the world w/o taking the advice of these wise guys, sorry wise men and women. We achieved the reductions they said could not be made and did it both painlessly and profitably.

Meanwhile our many Euro-friends who claim to be concerned about CO2 emission are doing stupid things like phasing our nuclear power (Germany) and preventing natural gas production (France and others). Meanwhile, the Chinese are managing to produce twice as much CO2 as we do with an economy half as big.

This latter consideration is sweet - well bittersweet to me. Many American and other wise men and women demanded that America lead the way. If we did it first, they said, others would follow. It was a dumb idea then and I said so. Now event have smacked these guys. We have led the way. Others are doing business as usual.

I was an environmentalist before most of the current generation was born and I still am in a much more practical sense. We need to think about a better environment. That is all. Too many “environmentalists” are just cloaking their anti-growth, anti-West, anti-Capitalist ideas in environmental clothing. Until the system changes, they say, we cannot have environmental success. This is, as some of my leftist friends here would say, BULL SHIT.

The free market system is much more environmentally friendly than any of the alternatives. I lived in formerly communist countries. Those communists are pigs in more ways than one. Within our system we beat back the energy crisis, began to close the ozone hole, made acid rain a non-issue, regrew forests, saved many species, cleaned up the Great Lakes and made is possible to swim in rivers like the Potomac. All this happened in my lifetime. Imagine what we can do in the future, if we maintain the most imaginative, innovate and just plain good system for making these things happen. So forget those UN pukes and all those pointy headed doom saying false environmentalist. We will prevail as we have before.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 4:32 PM
Comment #351112


I am probalby the truest environmentalist who writes here. I am personally planted more trees or caused them to be planted than twenty Al Gores. It is my interest.

You make few errors here. Ryan voted against bulb standards. I would too. They don’t address the real problem and produce toxic wastes. I tried some of those things. They don’t last long when exposed to heat. Government picking winners has not had a good track record.

Slashed clean energy investment - again it is the wrong mechanism. I agree that we should have more government R&D and I disagree with cutting that. However, actual government investment in green energy is bad for the environment. It slows real progress.

If government was planning for sand distribution in the Sahara Desert, shortly a shortage would ensue.

Voting against government involvement in the environment is NOT the same as voting against the environment. And supporting the UN climate folks is probably a bad thing if you really care about the earth.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 4:38 PM
Comment #351113

One more thing. The UN made a big deal of trying to plant 1 billion trees worldwide over some years; I don’t recall how many. I think planting trees is a great idea and I support charities in Africa that do that around villages. But as for the UN, it is just not that big a deal. EACH YEAR we plant more than 2 billion trees in the American South alone. If you make something part of the free market, it happens.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 4:44 PM
Comment #351114

The point is, Ryan is a Global Warming denier who votes against any legislation that would address the issue.

Ryan votes for issues that would make Global Warming worse.

Global Warming is a global issue, an issue that crosses continents and makes human border irrelevant, and the idea that governments should not cooperate and become involved in addressing it is ludicrous… Unless, of course, it’s a simple matter of denial, as we see with Romney (that may change again), Ryan, and most Republican and conservative leadership.

Tree farming works in OR, but without government regulation, people would destroy the old growth forests in the search for immediate profit.

For a good idea of what happens to a society that does not pay attention to human consequences for the environment, consider Easter Island.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2012 5:00 PM
Comment #351115

We all know phx that nothing bad can happen with enough gov regs.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 19, 2012 5:22 PM
Comment #351116


The market requires some government regulation. It is a subtle problem. Regulation can grow into management or become Like a dead hand on progress.

Old growth is an interesting concept. You can think of forests in three stages (vastly simplified) new, middle and old. There should always be some of each, but not on the same tract of land always. We should preserve as much as we can some especially significant things. I say, “as much as we can” because forests are living systems that cannot be maintained in their current form without lots of management.

But sometimes you need to cut old growth. Forests in the West are under managed. They need more, not less attention.

Tree farming is a different thing. Tree farms will come to replace most freestyle logging the way that farming replaced hunter-gatherers.

Tree farms are more productive than old-fashioned logging. It can and is being done in a completely sustainable and environmentally friendly way, producing more wood, better wildlife habitat, protecting water quality and providing places for recreation.

I don’t know much about Oregon. I visited forests there only once. But I can tell you with moral certainty that we have a good relationship with regulators in Virginia. We do an excellent job of stewardship, not taking more than we should and leaving much more than it would be profitable in the short run. We are always trying to learn more and to do better, but we know much more about how to do it than a bunch of Greenpeace shitheads or UN officials.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 5:56 PM
Comment #351117


I have studied forests all over the world. The ones with the MOST government control are usually in the worst shape. In many places, government regulation makes it unprofitable to do the right things. Honest businessmen are driven out and replaced by crooks. Greenpeace types call for more rules, making it worse. If we let these guys run the show, there will be lots of great talk abou saving forests but no actual forests left.

IMO - many leftist environmentalists are positively destructive of valid environmental progress. Much of the UN is like that as are people like Earth First and Greenpeace.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 6:00 PM
Comment #351120

I walked into a Tesla showroom yesterday in a shopping mall of all places. Beautiful electric vehicles with an all computer dash. Truly innovative. The brain child of Elon Musk NOT government.

Posted by: BZA at August 19, 2012 6:51 PM
Comment #351121

Government regulations in the west have helped create conditions for forest fires.

Posted by: TomT at August 19, 2012 8:25 PM
Comment #351122

I do not know much about this CO2 Emissions and why this happen. For we citizens, I think that we should do our best to be good person, a person who is useful for society and kind of treasure for people who might meet him. This is the largest meaning of being alive, in my opinion.

I think there must be sense that you live, why do you live? what do you live for,? Soemthing like that.

Posted by: Jim at August 19, 2012 9:33 PM
Comment #351126

Debating the appropriate level of government regulation, if any, is all well and good. Perhaps government interference helped the development of the electric car or hindered it; perhaps government regulations made wildfires worse.

That is not the issue. Romney and Ryan and most conservatives and Republicans deny anthropogenic Global Warming is not happening at all. They simply deny it. A few agree
Warming is occurring- after all, the scientific evidence is overwhelming- but then deny it has anything to do with humanity.

That is not the same as arguing over government regulation or interference. It is the denial of what almost every scientist and country agrees upon, namely, that Global Warming is happening, and that mankind is the cause.

So an article in the conservative column about CO2 levels makes little sense. It goes completely counter to the beliefs of conservatives and Republicans. It goes completely counter to the stand of the presidential & vice-presidential candidate, as well as nearly every major conservative & Republican figure in the public sphere.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2012 10:10 PM
Comment #351128


It really doesn’t matter what they say on the subject. Those that most enthusiastically believe in global warming have done nothing useful to slow emissions. We Americans, non-signers of Kyoto, have beat them all. And we did it w/o the strong government intervention thought essential by the extremists.

Re my writing - I don’t walk in lockstep with what the party I generally support does.

Re writing it here - what do you think the changes would be that anybody on the left side would write a story that praises the U.S. in environmental achievement based mostly on the action of market forces using natural gas?

The left does not embrace stories that say good things about the U.S. in this manner. They prefer the ones that trash us. Generally, it falls to conservatives to praise America w/o adding a long list of caveats.

I have not been closely following U.S. media. Did you see this story prominently on the network news or on CNN? As I said, I don’t know. Surprise me. Tell me that MSM led with this story in its environmental reporting.

Posted by: C&J at August 19, 2012 10:20 PM
Comment #351129

By the way, as to what Romney really, truly thinks about Global Warming, about that I’m not sure. Romney is one of a very, very small number of people who went from thinking human beings play a big role in Global Warming to denying it. He could easily change his mind yet again.

Ryan seems to be an actual denier, but as for the idea that he is opposed to government regulations, his voting record tells another story. He’s fine with federal subsidies for the oil industry to the tune of $40 billion. He talks one story, but his actions tell another. It’s hard to tell what a person believes when they behave like a hypocrite, saying one thing and doing another.

Yes, it matters what the leaders of conservatives and Republicans say about the subject. It matters a great deal.

By the way, you’re article is based upon a false premise. For example, the graph you cite is related to COAL, and it refers to only the first four months of this year. That was caused by an unusually mild winter and reduced gasoline prices due to higher gas prices.

According to the EPA, CO2 levels have increased 12% between 1990 to 2010.

Methane is at a 20 year high. This matters. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas, but it only persists for four years. CO2 persists for up to a century.

The reduction of the use of coal is good, but one of the drawbacks of natural gas is that, while burning it still releases some CO2 (but only about half as much, or less), improperly regulated drillers can release a great deal of methane. This particularly a problem with smaller operations.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2012 10:37 PM
Comment #351130
Because markets forces do not operate as well in China as they do in the U.S.

So “market forces” in China don’t give a rats ass about lowering co2 standards but “market forces” in America does? If “market forces” is the omnipotent, omnipresence, omniscient “force” that you claim it to be what other “force” would need to be in play to shift awareness to co2 emissions in one area of the globe but not the others?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 19, 2012 11:28 PM
Comment #351131

The left is fully willing to embrace a sustainable energy solution, but we’ve just traded one limited fossil fuel for another, and admittedly less serious Carbon emitters for more serious ones.

But look at your party. If you were to discuss with many of your party members your thoughts on global warming, their first instincts would often be to talk about what a socialist fraud it is, or to simply call it cyclical. Trouble with calling this cyclical, is that we haven’t seen a worldwide cycle like this in decades, and nothing else about the environment told us we were due for one.

But the point is, you are a distinct minority in your party, whether you realize it or not… that, or held hostage by a vocal minority your party isn’t willing to hold down.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 19, 2012 11:41 PM
Comment #351133


Like me, Romney said I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. Like me, he doesn’t know the extent and like me he doesn’t trust big government command and control or UN commissions to solve the problem. He has not made it a big issue in this campaign and his site says nothing about it that I could find.

Beyond that, I can write what I want to write. This is a subject I have been working on for decades. If I diverge from most conservatives on the issue, perhaps this will help in a small way to change their minds. And maybe conservatives are a more diverse group than you think.

You may recall that the Republican Bush I Administration is the one that put into place the mechanisms that solved the acid rain problem. I don’t know if the majority of Republicans “believed” in the problem or not, but they solved it.

I am reminded of troubles with the German “Greens” back in the 1980s. Their most disliked enemy was what they called “values conservatives.” These were conservatives who worked to protect nature but didn’t believe in the other crap, like bigger government and socialistic ideas, that went along with being green. Perhaps people like me similarly threaten you. We take “your issue” and do a better job because we are uninterested in the collateral beliefs.

For example, I believe we really can address environmental concerns without addressing equity concerns. The two are sometimes related but not the same. Some “environmentalists” hold the environment hostage to a left wing agenda, much like those liberals who prefer the “address the root causes” of crime but not crime.

Re “market forces” - Stephen got it right up top. “the market is us, plus the nature of the real world, plus the laws by which we work.” America is indeed different from China. Beyond that, China has a type of State Capitalism, not a free market. The State determines the distribution of major resources and directs much more economic activity than we do in the U.S., Europe or Australia. As the market becomes stronger in China, there will be more action (although perhaps less talk) to fix pollution. But China remains and will remain for our lifetimes, the world’s leading threat to the environment.


In the short term, there is absolutely no way to deploy new alternatives on the scale needed to address the problem, even if they were available, which they are not at prices we can afford. Natural gas is not a permanent solution. In fact, I doubt a “permanent solution” will ever exist. But for now it works best. We have achieved the goals that the anti-GM folks set for us and told us that we would never achieve w/o massive government intervention and wrenching lifestyle changes. Does this upset you?

Posted by: C&J at August 20, 2012 6:41 AM
Comment #351135

It wasn’t natural “market forces” that resulted in today’s vigorous exploitation of US gas reserves and the serendipitous impact on CO2 emissions.

It was the oil crisis of the 70s and the perceived necessity by the Ford and, more particularly, the Carter administrations to tap our vast gas reserves as an alternative. Government invested heavily in R&D to develop drilling technology capable of taping the reserves. In addition, the drilling tax credits of the Carter energy plan were instrumental in attracting capital for natural gas well head development.

Posted by: Rich at August 20, 2012 8:00 AM
Comment #351136

I’m still confused as to why C&J says the free market “achieved a result” when we know this was the unintended result of many factors in the economy and not a market driven attempt to limit CO2 that succeeded wildly. Two years from now we could be right back at 2005 levels of CO2.

I’m also confused as to how the ozone hole was a free market success when it was instead a success of government regulation working with the free market to succeed. You know…the way the left wants things to go? The way the right thinks is a bad idea? Everyone knows it’s a slippery slope to socialism. That’s why folks like Reagan refused to sign on to the Montreal Protocol. Oh, he did sign it? Nevermind. That’s one more way that President Reagan differs from Saint Reagan worshiped by the right today.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at August 20, 2012 8:55 AM
Comment #351141

I say again, the entire premise of this article is completely wrong.

The graph only refers to coal, and it only applies to the first four months of this year. It does NOTHING to support the premise that market forces are driving down the overall level of atmospheric CO2. There is a drop in the contribution from COAL, mainly due to an unusually warm winter, along with other factors that only apply to coal.

Posted by: phx8 at August 20, 2012 10:52 AM
Comment #351148
I say again, the entire premise of this article is completely wrong.

Noted. You are incorrect, but your disagreement is noted again.

What many progressives seem to ignore is that market forces include the desires of the people participating in the market. They ignorantly assume that it is all about ‘making a buck’ and that it is.

As we have learned more and more about the environment and more and more people are interested in doing their part to help, the demand for more ‘green’ solutions have been noted by the market and it is responding. Toyota made the Prius, it was popular, and now more companies are trying to outdo it. Tesla Motors is a great example of the market pushing greener options and the businesses responding.

In the end, solar and wind energy WILL be cheaper than fossil fuels. Once we figure out a way to capture and deliver it, the costs will decrease and it will be cheaper to capture than digging for oil, capturing the methane, converting to usable forms, etc. Right now it is not, but we are getting there. If we jump ahead too fast, it will be TOO expensive to go through that process and we will be in a much worse position to reach that goal.

Government trying to direct science/discover/etc is troublesome at best. For every moon landing there are several dozen ‘OSIs’. The success of the moon landings were the people who were doing it, not that government was involved, and once some of us who don’t accept that get it, the better off we can be in actually achieving things because they are the right thing to do in the right way, not putting a gun to people’s head to make their choices for them.

Posted by: rhinehold at August 20, 2012 12:08 PM
Comment #351149

And phx8, to point out where you are wrong…

1st: ” this month that energy related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. Energy emissions make up about 98 percent of the total. “

So no, it was not just about coal prices dropping because of a warm winter, it was the entire energy emissions.

2nd: The graph clearly shows that the dropping has been going on for years. It was just the past four months that have dropped it to 1992 levels.

Posted by: rhinehold at August 20, 2012 12:11 PM
Comment #351161

No, Rhinehold. The article is simply wrong and mixed up. It doesn’t even make sense.

Posted by: phx8 at August 20, 2012 2:48 PM
Comment #351168

Major reason for less CO2 is that with globalisation the major polluters moved to cheap labor and less regulation with heavy industry. China has been steadily building coal fired for years.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 20, 2012 4:34 PM
Comment #351172

We are – fortunately still – embedding in a free market system, which included reasonable regulation. Yes Reagan signed the Montreal Protocols and they worked. Smart. Kyoto was just plain stupid, which is why we abstained. Montreal Protocols was an environmental agreement. Kyoto was an income redistribution scheme pretending to be environmental.

The graph is not only coal. I added a comment re coal going down to 1982 levels later on, which may have confused you.

The point is that without the onerous and stupid restrictions of Kyoto, we achieved a better result. The second point is that the U.S. is doing better than those who signed onto Kyoto’s onerous and stupid restrictions. Kyoto was a dumb agreement and we should not have sent out B-Team to do that job.

I am sorry is my factual article has upset your worldview. IN fact, we conservatives can and often are better stewards of the environment than misguided Greenpeace punks and Fat-Cat UN delegates.

Posted by: C&J at August 20, 2012 5:33 PM
Comment #351192

“IN fact, we conservatives can and often are better stewards of the environment than misguided Greenpeace punks and Fat-Cat UN delegates.”

What an arrogant and misguided interpretation of the data and history. The US remains the number one emitter of CO2 per capita by far in the world.

The fact that natural gas has come on line in a major way reducing CO2 emissions is an artifact of not only government intervention that provided the opportunity to exploit the known vast reserves but more importantly simply good luck that we have an abundance of natural gas reserves.

It has nothing to do with conservatives being “better stewards of the environment.” If that were true than we would surpass Europeans in per capita emissions with the natural gas reserve advantage. We don’t.

Solar energy and other alternative sources are today in the same position as natural gas 30 years ago. They have huge potential but not the technology capable of fully exploiting their potential.

I think that rather than glotting over the drop in CO2 emissions from natural gas, conservatives would be better served by honestly addressing the factors that led to such a result: government-private partnerships for developing the technology necessary to capture the energy and government investment incentives for exploitation of potential vast sources of energy, i.e., solar.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the natural gas developments, it is that investments today in alternative vast energy sources can pay off big time in the future.

Posted by: Rich at August 20, 2012 8:50 PM
Comment #351193

Sorry, gloating not “glotting.”

Posted by: Rich at August 20, 2012 8:54 PM
Comment #351197


The U.S. is not the world’s largest emitter of CO2 per capita or in absolute terms.

CO2 emissions have tended to go up with GDP. The U.S. has the largest GDP. But even that, we produce a little more than 20% of world GDP and only 16% of the CO2. China, with an economy about half as big as ours manages today 29%.

And what I am writing about is trends. Our CO2 emissions have dropped more than any other country or region since 2006.

Solar and wind are in the same position today that they were in 30 years ago. We will indeed go into these alternatives when they are ready. Until that time, natural gas is providing a wonderful alternative that is cheaper, American and better for the environment.

RE government research - I have advocated increased research. What I dislike is government making management decisions or trying to pick winners and losers. Natural gas developed in part because of government research, but there was not a partnership in the sense that government invested in firms. We have learned from the last couple of years that this is a very bad idea.

RE gloating - Yes, I am. I had to put up with years of people telling us that only the drastic central planning and UN sponsored programs could work. And here we did it w/o any of that crap. All those fools who said we had to get on the Kyoto bandwagon may have fooled themselves but - thank God - they did not fool us.

The inconvenient truth is that is Al Gore had never made an “Inconvenient Truth” and if none of the UN conferences had ever taken place, we would be pretty much in the same place. That is the lesson.

Posted by: C&J at August 20, 2012 9:37 PM
Comment #351201

You mislabeled a graph based upon poor reporting from other sources, confuse CO2 emitted from coal with total CO2 emissions from all sources, and feel like this bad piece of writing vindicates you? Try again.

Posted by: phx8 at August 20, 2012 10:00 PM
Comment #351203


What the heck are you talking about? The graph is clearly marked. It says U.S. Energy-related CO2 Emissions. It doesn’t say anything about coal.

Later in the post, I write One more thing from the AP article - “How much further the shift from coal to natural gas can go is unclear. Bentek says that power companies plan to retire 175 coal-fired plants over the next five years. That could bring coal’s CO2 emissions down to 1980 levels. “

The “one more thing” implies a shift of subject. The shift from coal to gas is the major cause of the general decrease in CO2 emissions. It does not imply that the graph is dealing only with coal.

I am a much better writer than Obama, who tells us that “You didn’t build that” is unrelated to the sentences that go just before it.

My structure is clear to any educated person not trying to find problems where none exist. In which of these categories do you belong?

You have lost the argument on substance, so you are pulling an Obama and trying to attack the character of the writer. Read more carefully next time and perhaps you will understand better.

Posted by: C&J at August 20, 2012 10:14 PM
Comment #351206

The graph is “clearly marked,” but it is mislabeled. A mistake has resulted in this being posted at various web sites.

Think about it. Does it even make sense? Read the articles attached to the graph. The same article appears on site after site. The article talks about coal, but mixes up all energy sources with coal.

Posted by: phx8 at August 20, 2012 11:30 PM
Comment #351207

The tip off to the bias in this piece is the quote by the article’s author NOT the study that ‘the world’s leading climate scientists’ didn’t see it coming because it was market forces not government that caused the drop. WTH ???

Was that conclusion reached by the authors of the study? It wasn’t indicated by the article that it was. This is obviously a slam at the ‘world’s leading climate scientists’ and a means to discredit climate science in general.

Once that was clear… I could reasonably conclude that the rest of the article and the point of this post was just more conservative hide-your-head-in-the-sand bull hockey.

Just because some scientists didn’t expect the drop doesn’t mean that they were blind to market forces OR that they preferred government solutions. These are scientists, not politicians or worse, ill informed and party prejudiced hacks who try to support their party’s untenable positions.

Why do I even come here??? This site is more and more like watching two cliques of third graders fight over who’s turn it is on the slide.

Posted by: LibRick at August 20, 2012 11:42 PM
Comment #351211

“The U.S. is not the world’s largest emitter of CO2 per capita or in absolute terms.”

Yes it is C&J.

Posted by: Rich at August 21, 2012 2:54 AM
Comment #351213


Your chart doesn’t include all the countries of the world. Last time I looked Saudi Arabia was well above the U.S. and even Australia emitted more per person.

I also tried to explain that CO2 is related to GDP. The U.S. has a very large GDP which pulls up our rate.

In any case, our reductions have been remarkable.

Anti-Americans pointed first to the total. When that became untenable, they tried other things, like per capita. When that doesn’t really work, they will limit it to big countries etc.

Your chart includes Russia. Per unit of GDP, Russia is very dirty, as is China and many others.

The Anti-American crowd always whipsaws us. When it is something bad, they talk in absolute numbers. The U.S. emits lots of CO2 because we are very productive. When it is something good, they talk about units per GDP. The U.S. gives more foreign aid than any other country, but in order to lessen us, the Anti-Americans use unit per GDP.

The U.S. is the world’s most generous country and the world’s second largest producer of CO2. Or it is a in the middle in both those things, depending on how you measure.

Finally, we have now come close to achieving what Kyoto would have ordered us to do. This is the big point. And we did it w/o the UN plans.


The article talks about reductions in total CO2 caused by substituting natural gas for coal. Natural gas produced much less CO2 per unit of heat than does coal. This is what is happening.

The article states - “In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.”

The chart reflects this. The underlying report supports this. U.S. CO2 emissions have been dropping. If you think this is wrong, I suggest you figure out total CO2 emissions and make your own chart so that we can see how it differs.


I cannot say for sure why “experts” didn’t predict this, but they clearly did not. Just a few years ago, the Al Gore crowd was loudly telling us that this could never happen unless we did some drastic changes in almost everything in our economy. It seems to me that they were blind to the power of the market. You may disagree.

Bottom line is that they were wrong.

Re why you come here - if you don’t like it don’t come. I get paid the same (i.e. nothing) whether or not you do. If you disagree with what I write, you can comment. I think we may learn from each other. If you don’t like it in general go elsewhere. I don’t need you or want you if you come with that kind of attitude. You need not depend on my charity if you don’t appreciate it.

Posted by: C&J at August 21, 2012 6:20 AM
Comment #351222

LibRick; after reading some of your comments, I believe you are not above the fray of “third graders fight over who’s turn it is on the slide.”

Posted by: Billinflorida at August 21, 2012 9:46 AM
Comment #351273

Let’s look at a reputable source for some statistics:

Note the graph. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, CO2 emissions increased 12% between 1990 to 2010, from the equivalent of about 5 million metric tons of CO2 burned to just under 6 million.

“Going forward, CO2 emissions in the United States are projected to grow by about 1.5% between 2005 and 2020.”

If you look at the DoE site by searching for CO2 emissions, you’ll find additional information.

Posted by: phx8 at August 22, 2012 1:08 AM
Comment #351310


Remember that thing about experts being surprised?

Your data is correct, but out of date. It was gathered in 2009 and the data for 2010 are based on those “expert” predictions that turned out to be false.

The main point of even noticing this change in CO2 is because it indeed confounded the experts.

Posted by: C&J at August 22, 2012 5:46 PM
Comment #351332

Look at your chart. Think about it. Do you really think overall CO2 emissions could drop 20% in just four years? Tell you what. Source that original chart. Link it. Not a repeater article, but the original chart. Or simply look at DoE numbers, or EPA.

Posted by: phx8 at August 22, 2012 10:39 PM
Comment #351430


Yes - I think that it could easily drop 20% in four years. The natural gas fracking is a big thing and good. We also had the bad thing of economic stagnation. We may be able to credit Obama with that.

The source of the chart is data from EIA

I wouldn’t pull “an Adrienne” on you and simply site one polemic to support another.

The numbers are clear, as are their direction. Besides helping keep the economy in the doldrums, Obama contributed nothing to this happy result. And we are doing better than the “experts” thought possible. We will probably reach our “Kyoto totals” in a couple years w/o ever suffering Kyoto.

Why are you not happy about this wonderful and unexpected result? Once again, we Americans confounded the naysayers.

Otto von Bismark said that there was a special provenance that protected children, drunkards and the United States of America. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but maybe he had a point. We win again.

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