Now we've done it. In the debate about climate change, man-made or otherwise, and what to do about a warming Earth, a body puts a lot on the line when deviating from the doctrine now in fashion. It might not do any good to agree with the greens 75 percent of the time--who likes pollution?--but point out that the Paris Accords would have had zero affect on the climate, even with the United States all in, and off to the education camps with you. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Earlier this week we pointed out that a story in The Washington Post--not exactly Fox News, mind you--noted that few of the countries that had "promised" to reduce emissions in the Paris agreement had actually done so. Which has been our whole point from the beginning, even before President Trump pulled out of the farce: By signing onto the pact, the United States would have tied its economy up in knots (as Greenpeace, et al., sued in federal court to bind us to the agreement). But the other nations, including major contributors to pollution like China and India, only promised to limit carbon footprints--and only starting years from now, if ever.
The Paris Accords never made sense, practically speaking. But practicality isn't a characteristic of many environmentalists. The Paris Accords made them feel good. And, as the song says, feeling good is good enough. Or it can be for our friends on the left.
But why isn't the United States showing leadership, organizing the effort, leading from the front?
Actually, we are. Even on climate change.
Last month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (it's a real thing) put out a report showing that this country's energy-related CO2 pollution output continues to fall. Not because we're necessarily using less energy, but because coal plants, especially old ones, are being shut down as natural gas comes in favor. The outfit has a website at www.eia.gov.
An analysis for Forbes, published in September, says fracking is responsible for releasing the natural gas. And: "Overall, U.S. carbon emissions for 2017 are 14 percent lower than they were in 2005."
And that's with an economy that grew by 20 percent in the same time frame.
But even if the United States finds a way to lower emissions another 14 percent in the coming decade, will it be enough to offset all the new coal plants going online in China and India? Those countries use the same air as we do. And for anybody who's read the Paris Accord, you'll notice how those countries use more clinton clauses than the Clintons ever did. They put an asterisk next to every promise.
But don't trust Forbes. It's a pro-business magazine. What does the EPA say?
As you might imagine, the Environmental Protection Agency puts out a lot of reports, and works on them for years. Its researchers put out one report, "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2015," in the first few months of the Trump administration. One assumes the EPA researchers worked on this project mostly while in the Obama administration. (For the record, "sinks" are things that soak up carbon emissions, like forests.)
The report shows that this country was expert at coughing up greenhouse gases for a long time. And kept it up from 1990 until about the Great Recession. Then emissions began clicking down.
In 2007, according to the EPA, this country put 7,349 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the air. By 2015, that had dropped to 6,586 MMTs. From 2014 to 2015, the level dropped 2.3 percent. From 2016 to 2017, the EPA reports another drop 2.7 percent. Call it a trend.
What accounts for the decrease? There are probably a number of causes. The EPA said lately winters haven't been as harsh, so not as much energy has been going to the East Coast to heat homes. There was a general decrease in demand for electricity in 2015, too. Also, may we add, people are getting smarter. We recycle more. We tend to buy cars with better fuel standards these days. There's a nice trend toward buying more local food. And as more millennials take the place of carbon-based Baby Boomers in the natural order of things, we see this trend continuing--in the United States, at least. The young shall lead us.
Fact is, if other countries followed the example of the United States, there would be little need for treaties and pacts. Imagine if every country actually decreased its carbon footprint by 2 or 3 percent each year--or by 14 percent every dozen years. Instead of requiring it of Americans while making empty promises for themselves.
Lead by example? Baby, we're doing it.
Feeling good may be good enough for many people. For us, we'd prefer real numbers. See above.
Editorial on 10/19/2018