Carbon Emissions Lowest in Decades, Should We Be Celebrating?
We’ve been hearing a lot about how we need to lessen carbon emissions for some time now. Environmental activists have incessantly been pushing for cleaner energy to avoid the disastrous effects that climate change could have on our planet. However, the latest news on CO2 has emerged and for once, it’s not ALL doom and gloom. Apparently, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., from January through March, are the lowest recorded since 1992.
Of course, this appears like good news particularly to those that are concerned for the health of the planet. But if we look more closely at the reasons why they are so low we might not be all that gleeful about it.
There are several things that played into these record low numbers. First reason being because last winter was considered mild thus, the need for energy-powered appliances to keep our homes warm and toasty was not as high. Secondly, there has been an increase in gas-fired power thanks to the onslaught of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) going on all over the country. Lastly, since the use of cheap gas power is up, there has been a corresponding decline in coal-fired power.
Again, it all seems so honky dory but the reality is that coal production has remained steady this year and any leftovers that the United States is not using, is being shipped off to Asia. This quite literally means that we are exporting coal-related emissions overseas, which doesn’t make much of a difference in slowing down global climate change.
In regards to the increase in natural gas usage, it seems we have plenty of shale to frack, but at this point, we are just piling on to emissions already coming from coal consumption. There is no more room for emissions on this planet especially if we are aiming towards reducing global temperatures by two degrees Celsius. Proponents for shale argue that natural gas is just a “transition fuel” that could be used for a handful of years while infrastructures for renewable energy are being built like wind farms and so forth.
“If gas companies continue to expand their shale gas operations, the US could generate even more electricity from gas, and its emissions could fall for several years,” says Kevin Anderson of the University Of Manchester, UK.
If this country has to go through natural gas to wean off dirty coal then so be it but we can only cross our fingers and hope that during the “transitional phase” measures are being taken to advance renewables. Without the funding to support the future of alternative energy the light at the end of the tunnel will start to fade away and we’ll be left in the dark and ultimately worse off than we started.
Be prepared to see an even bigger increase in natural gas usage because it’s surprisingly cheap and plentiful right now. It has already started to replace coal in many power plants across the nation. While natural gas does produce half the amount of CO2 as coal when producing relatively the same amount of energy, it still isn’t zero like its competitors- wind and solar.
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