For the Record: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Down

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A new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that American greenhouse gas emissions have fallen. To wit:

In 2006, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 7,201.9 Tg CO2 Eq. Overall, total U.S. emissions have risen by 14.1 percent from 1990 to 2006, while the U.S. gross domestic product has increased by 59 percent over the same period (BEA 2007). Emissions fell from 2005 to 2006, decreasing by 1.5 percent (111.8 Tg CO2 Eq.). The following factors were primary contributors to this decrease: (1) compared to 2005, 2006 had warmer winter conditions, which decreased consumption of heating fuels, as well as cooler summer conditions, which reduced demand for electricity, (2) restraint on fuel consumption caused by rising fuel prices, primarily in the transportation sector and (3) increased use of natural gas and renewables in the electric power sector.

And we may be on track for more of the same. As fuel prices rise–surprise–people cut back on how much they burn. Imagine that–the laws of economics actually work!

One futher note: At the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change earlier this week, economist Richard Rahn from the Institute for Global Economic Growth asserted that higher fuel prices are already encouraging dramatic innovations in energy production and storage. In fact, Rahn is so bullish on new battery technologies that he predicted that the majority of cars offered for sale in 2018 would be all-electric. Since that is so, Rahn added that he wouldn't advise betting on Saudi Arabia's future economic prospects. Keep in mind that transporation accounts for around 20 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions.

NEXT: George McGovern Takes on Economic Paternalists

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  1. So, I need to take up the slack for you slackers again?

    Better upgrade that 2bbl 318 in the Charger to a six-pack 440 right away!

  2. Welcome news. Of course the economy hasn’t been booming lately…*

    *Somebody had to say it.

  3. The following factors were primary contributors to this decrease: (1) compared to 2005, 2006 had warmer winter conditions, which decreased consumption of heating fuels

    So increasing global warming reduces greenhouse gas production which reduces global warming. It’s self-stabilizing!

  4. Since that is so, Rahn added that he wouldn’t advise betting on Saudi Arabia’s future economic prospects.

    So, per one of the Leftie theories of badly-behaving types from that corner of the world, we can expect more terrorist freedom-fighter attacks from the newly-poor, newly-disenfranchised, masses?

  5. I’m more than a little skeptical about that prediction of all electric cars. I think that flex-fuels and various hybrids have more realistic upside and long term potential.

  6. Episarch: Global warming is the solution to global warming! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. It would be interesting to compare the magnitude of this change to the increase in GHG emissions from India and China over the same period.

  8. Episiarch | March 7, 2008, 2:21pm | #
    The following factors were primary contributors to this decrease: (1) compared to 2005, 2006 had warmer winter conditions, which decreased consumption of heating fuels

    So increasing global warming reduces greenhouse gas production which reduces global warming. It’s self-stabilizing!

    Ron Bailey | March 7, 2008, 2:30pm | #
    Episarch: Global warming is the solution to global warming! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Issue resolved. No further discussion required. Next subject please.

  9. Are these “all electric” cars grabbing their electrons from the air, or is there some regular-old power plant pumping them back up?

    If the case is the latter, then we have had “all electric” locomotives criss-crossing the fruited-plain for quite a while.

    Per Penn Gillette, this sounds like a “move the polution” solution.

  10. So, how did the Kyoto countries do during this same time period?

  11. Episarch: Global warming is the solution to global warming!

    I knew Roland Emmerich lied to me! That’s the last time I take anything he does seriously!

  12. It’s easier to capture pollutants from a point source than from millions of non-point sources.

    Not to mention, solar cars are nearly impossible, but solar plants exist right now.

  13. Yet another argument to switch back to Cetacean-based renewable fuel.

  14. 4th of July tire burn is back on!! woohoo

  15. joe,

    Don’t forget efficiency.

    Electric cars end up getting about better miles per gallon even if we use gas to power the generators.

  16. Sorry about that paste…

  17. Cetacean-based renewable fuel.

    It’s free-range. It’s organic.

  18. In 2006, I traded in a Neon for a Commander, so somebody has been cutting their share of CO2 and my extra. Thanks, I guess.

  19. Wow, another dilemma . . . converting the Jeep to steam power through coal or through train oil . . .

    Ugh, back to easy stuff like defending America.

  20. Higher prices reduce emissions. Duh.

    Why not go all the way and shut the environmentalists up? Replace FICA with carbon taxes and you get a foot in the door towards retirement privatization.

    Carbon taxes are easy to collect; you cannot hide an oil refinery. They are also indirect so we lose that sense of entitlement that comes with an SS account.

  21. CO2 is not a pollutant. If it is so good in trapping heat, why isn’t CO2 used in windows instead of argon?

    * * *

    Compare air pollution in the EU v ours. We have spent a trillion dollars or so cleaning up our air over the last 30+ years. At the same time the Euros spent did very little it improve air quality on their continent. Only now are the Euros beginning to clean up heir emissions.

    I mention this for context. Our carbon emissions are lower because of long term investments in cleaner air. The Euros cannot begin to accomplish this because they have so much more to do before they can achieve parity with us.

    Conservation, alternative fuels and similar initiatives are feel good measures that do nothing to reduce carbon emissions. We must develop nuclear generators, a clean energy source, that will also provide the energy needed to gasify coal, our most plentiful fuel.

  22. Paddy,

    The Euros clean up the air by getting our greenies hysterical about “pollution”, so we end up doing it for them.

  23. Carl,

    Why not go all the way and shut the environmentalists up?

    You do know that’s Al Gore’s proposal, right?

    Way to shut up the environmentalists.

  24. I had a conversation with a environmentalist friend of mine the other day. I pointed out the various wonder technologies that I think are going to come into use over the next 20 years, electric cars that are better than our current gas powered ones, actual practical solar power, massive improvements in battery life and so forth and how these things were going to render the global warming debate moot, even if the theory is correct. What amazed me about the conversation wasn’t so much that he doubted the technology. It was that he actually seemed angry at the prospect that any of thise might be true. If he had just said, “I hope you are right but I think you are being too optimistic” it wouldn’t have been such a notable conversation. What made it notable was his unspoken assumption that such developments would not be a good thing. There is a really wierd religous “we are finally going to get ours for our sinful lifestyles” thread going on in the environmental movement.

  25. John,

    There won’t be any “green house gas” problem, or any gas for that matter, after Mrs. Clinton takes away all of the “oil company profits”.

    IIRC, she is going to fix the prescription drug problem with the same method.

  26. Compare air pollution in the EU v ours.
    Doesn’t France have the cleanest air? Almost 70% nuclear if i am remembering right. It was the environmentalists of the 70’s that wouldn’t let nuclear take off here, and why we had to spend 1 trillion to clean up our air to still not be as good as France.

  27. Doesn’t France have the cleanest air? Almost 70% nuclear if i am remembering right.

    But their light-by-night, provided by burning cars and Synagogues, might prove to offset that a bit.

  28. touche`

  29. Yeah Guy,

    We wouldn’t want anyone to ever make any money from pumping oil or developing pharmaceuticals. They are supposed to pump billions into R&D out of the goodness of their hearts, not for profit.

  30. Another point is that the US population increased by 60M from 1990-2006, so per-capita emissions have actually gone down during that time.

  31. John,

    Yea, I think she is trying to take-up where President Carter Left off.

  32. Neu Mejican,

    Thanks for the link, but I’m too cheap to pay for the article.

    Also, may I introduce you to http://tinyurl.com? It’s very friendly.

  33. If the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics still holds, it takes more power to charge a battery than it will produce. Ditto any other power source; otherwise we would be riding around in perpetual motion machines.

  34. I see that the Rivers and Lakes in Glacier National Park are now being polluted with Mercury…from China, no less. I guess wherever there’s room for some pollution it attracts the stuff like a magnet and fills it up like a new shelf.

  35. William R. Casey, PE

    If only you believe, we can change the 2nd law of Thermodynamics! I have heard our future president(s) say that there is nothing America can’t do.

    Change we can believe in.
    Yes, we can!

  36. I object to the headline used for this story. Using the term “greenhouse gas” helps the global warming alarmists spread their misguided take on climate change. No one has proven that CO2, or any other gas for that matter, is a “greenhouse gas.” That gases can cause a heating effect in the Earth’s atmosphere is just a theory.

  37. Rimfax,

    Australia is the only country seriously considering reducing the “greenhouse gases” and screwing their economy under their new govt.

    India and China are not in a position to think of the environment yet. China must be thinking of air pollution around Beijing during the Olympics, not much else.

  38. Um…so I’m confused. People here seem to be saying a few things: higher fuel prices lead to reduced emissions; new technologies are coming online that will eventually produce energy at cost-parity with fossil fuels; etc.

    These are all things that environmentalists say. You could practically be quoting Al Gore on this stuff. And yet somehow these things are presented as sneering critiques of environmentalism.

    It’s almost as though people here are talking amongst themselves in some sort of little bubble world. But that can’t be right, can it?

    (And Ron kicks it all off with: “Imagine that–the laws of economics actually work!” Because that’s such a controversial proposition. I’m glad someone was brave enough to stick up for it.)

  39. Saul: i think you are missing our point. We are saying use as much as you want, as supply decreases and price increases, people will automagically cut back, and thus warming will slow.

    Gore and the rest of em are saying use nothing, artificially pump up prices to make sure this happens, and then warming will slow.

    see the diff?

  40. we sneer at al gore et al because of their unholy religion of AGW, not because we don’t think that lower emissions and less pollution and less dependence on oil isn’t a good thing.

    the environmentalists are trying to blame all the worlds problems on man, without any real evidence. that’s the problem.

  41. Global Warming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Paddy: I believe that argon is used in windows because it has a low heat capacity, being a monatomic gas. Glass itself provides the trapping of infrared rays.

    Richard: Gravity is “just a theory.” The word I think you are looking for is “hypothesis.” Except you would be wrong. There is zero dispute among scientists that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. The argument is over the feedback loops with respect to other climatic factors.

    While carbon dioxide is indisputably a greenhouse gas, it is not the predominant greenhouse gas. Water vapor is — at least at warmer latitudes. (Which is why I am quite skeptical about those who think the global warming had anything to do with Katrina.)

    Over the poles, carbon dioxide is the predominant greenhouse gas because cold air holds very little water vapor.

    (Note: water vapor is a gas. It is present even on a clear blue sky. Clouds are water droplets, which reflect light. The interplay between carbon dioxide and levels of water vapor and clouds is what makes precise climate prediction difficult.)

  43. Saul:
    We are saying that the market works and that government regulation is unnecessary/counter-productive/wasteful. As oil gets more scarce and as demand grows, the price will rise, prompting people to find cheaper substitutes, use it more efficiently or conserve (or all three). There is no need for mandates, bans, tariffs, protocols, etc, etc. Flying around to conferences presenting PowerPoint slides to “raise awareness” is not necessary. Prices raise awareness quite sufficiently, that is their function.

  44. You know the bit your mother taught you about “if you can’t say something nice…?”

    About the level of knowledge on display in this thread,

  45. Ya’ll need to go to the DOE’s EIA website and look at the long range domestic and global consumption projections and likely sources. Carbon taxes; Hybrids vs. ethanol vs. gasoline vs. electric; and alternate energy are important but they are also pimples on the flea on the dog. No matter what we do, we will at BEST reduce the slope of the curve of atmospheric GHG emissions.

    While I don’t believe the tropics will become the forbidden zone when atmospheric CO2 hits 1000 ppm, there’s a lot of whistling past the graveyard going on here.

  46. joe –

    She had a “headache” last night, huh?

  47. (1) compared to 2005, 2006 had warmer winter conditions, which decreased consumption of heating fuels, as well as cooler summer conditions, which reduced demand for electricity, (2) restraint on fuel consumption caused by rising fuel prices, primarily in the transportation sector and (3) increased use of natural gas and renewables in the electric power sector. [(4) Al Gore purchased CO2 offsets.]

    FIFY.

  48. As oil gets more scarce and as demand grows, the price will rise, prompting people to find cheaper substitutes, use it more efficiently or conserve (or all three). There is no need for mandates, bans, tariffs, protocols, etc, etc. Flying around to conferences presenting PowerPoint slides to “raise awareness” is not necessary. Prices raise awareness quite sufficiently, that is their function.

    Indeed, we may soon see gasoline being refined from wood .

    Back in 1981, Mobil estimated that it would cost $2.51 a gallon to do such a thing.

  49. Per an earlier comment, USA has far outperformed the EU over the past 5 years: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116606091947649743.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks

  50. The whole argument about global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call it is out of kilter because the question is not if there is climate change, the first week of Physical Geography 101 will reinforce the fact that climate has always been changing, the question is what part humans are playing in the change. The real answer,and the one on which most legitimate scientists agree is,when compared to all the other sources of “greenhouse gases” is, very little.

  51. I’d like to add to my previous comment and what Zack wrote. Our biggest problem today is an ignorant Congress interfering with the free market and the natural laws of economics. The unintended consequenses are already starting to show up.

  52. Paddy wrote:
    “CO2 is not a pollutant. If it is so good in trapping heat, why isn’t CO2 used in windows instead of argon?”

    Things are pollutants if there is a general consensus on the matter, even if those things have utility elsewhere, e.g. noise, light etc. Given our bodies and our smoke stacks are trying to get rid of the stuff…

    Additionally, in sufficient concentrations, CO2 is actually toxic.

    I am an owner of the multi-paned-argon-filled-windows. I don’t really want green fuzz growing inside them. So no CO2 kthxbye

    Casey wrote:
    “Our biggest problem today is an ignorant Congress interfering with the free market and the natural laws of economics. The unintended consequenses are already starting to show up.”

    I was going to go on one of my long winded diatribes…but ya beat me to it with brevity. nuff said.

    no wait!

    economist said:
    “Global Warming!(r)”

    you win again! Here is a new prize:
    http://tinyurl.com/2sjo3h

  53. I will believe things are getting better in the US when someone other than the US government says so. US Government agencies have lost all credibility with me, and it will take more than a new president to earn back any respect.

  54. Ron Bailey | March 7, 2008, 2:30pm | #
    Episarch: Global warming is the solution to global warming! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And affairs of state take precedence over affairs of state

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