Free Market fights CO2 levels
The left loves to label free market types as enemies of Mother Earth. However, I’ve said for a while that the left should probably start looking at how the free market can actually help them attain their goals with regard to the environment. For example, many companies have adopted so-called “green” practices, not so much because of a social conscious, but because it allows them to position themselves as if they have a social conscious.
According to some data that isn’t exactly burning up the mainstream media, it looks like the free market is having a more direct impact on the environment, particularly with regard to CO2:
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) June energy report says that energy-related carbon dioxide fell to 5,473 million metric tons (MMT) in 2011.
That’s down from a high of 6,020 MMT in 2007, and only a little above 1995’s level of 5,314 MMT.
Better yet, emissions in the first quarter of 2012 fell at an even faster rate — down 7.5% from the first quarter of 2011 and 8.5% from the same time in 2010. If the rest of 2012 follows its first-quarter trend, we may see total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions drop to early-1990s levels.
Awesome for the left, right? I mean, surely that means some of their efforts are starting to show results. Well, I wouldn’t be so sure. You see, Investors.com has another bit of data that should be considered:
So why the decline? It would be hard to credit either political party. As EIA figures show, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions had been rising steadily for decades — through both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses. They were rising in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president, and continued to rise when George W. Bush was in office.
However, emissions began to fall after 2007, when Barack Obama was only a second-year senator — so he doesn’t get the credit.
The most likely explanation for the decline is the shale gas revolution, made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Increasingly, power plants are turning to natural gas because it has become abundant, and therefore cheap. And though technology is improving our ability to reduce emissions from coal usage, natural gas is still a much cleaner source.
So, operating under a free market principle, companies take on a cheaper solution to mean their energy needs. That also had the benefit of being a cleaner - and therefore more “green” - option, and now CO2 levels have plummeted.
So why is this not news? Well, to start with, it probably doesn’t fit the narrative most journalists have with regard to the environment. After all, if the free market is causing this kind of thing, then what about the regulations?
That’s not to say that environmentalists can’t comprehend the free market having a positive effect. I actually think they do. Where the problem comes in is that I don’t think they can comprehend the idea of the free market actually being able to be the whole solution, and so they minimize things like this to continue pressing for regulation under the mistaken belief that the two together will accomplish even more.
Unfortunately for all of us, that’s not the case. When regulations simply create new problems, rather than really solving any. More people out of work - the result of cap and trade - doesn’t help the environment. In fact, it can become more of a problem for environmentalists as people are unable to pay for higher cost yet greener alternatives at stores.
Maybe there’s hope though. Maybe, just maybe, most environmentalists haven’t seen this latest data and therefore just don’t know. Maybe then they’ll quit demonizing the free market for all the world’s ills.
And maybe I’ll be the next King of Norway.