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Emissions Down, Rhetoric Up



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As I predicted would happen in the latest edition of my Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, new data out this week shows that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions actually fell last year by 1.3%, even as the economy grew by 3.3 percent.

This is extremely significant because it is the first time ever that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have fallen in a non-recession year, and it shows that we can indeed reduce our greenhouse gas emissions intensity (the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per dollar of economic output) at a rate that exceeds our economic growth rate. 

So what was the reaction to this good news?  Lots of complaints about Bush from the usual suspects.  Sen. John Kerry (how many mansions and private planes do he and Teresa have again??) said: “The house is on fire, and he’s [Bush] trying to douse the flames with a watering can. The science tells us that we need to reduce our emissions by 60-80% by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic damage.”

Jeremy Symons of the National Widlife Federation (by the way, has the NWF figured out a way to reduce the substantial, uh, emissions, of methane from cattle and sheep yet?) huffed: “Unfortunately, until we have government mandates to cut global warming pollution from big polluters, this year’s good news will be swallowed by the trend of rising pollution levels.”

This is another example of the boundless ignorance of the greenhouse gas campaigners: since 1990, GHG emissions from U.S. industry (“big polluters”) has been flat; U.S. methane emissions are slightly down in absolute terms, in fact.  The growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions has come overwhelmingly from households and the transport sector–functions partly of rising population (and immigration?? Better not go there if you’re a green.).  In other words, when folks say “big polluters,” they should look in the mirror.  Especially if your name is Kerry or Gore, and you libe in 10,000 square foot houses.



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