Thursday, September 06, 2012

Told you so

Quoting from  Gregg Easterbrook, who is one of the liberal writers that I read to keep a check on my conservative viewpoints.  Although his political leanings differ from mine, he is not a demagogue who lets his politics get in the way of reason.

Did you hear that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion dropped to the lowest level in 20 years? That U.S. carbon emissions have declined in four of the past six years? Probably not, because the mainstream media studiously avoided this inconveniently positive development, announced last week by the Energy Information Administration. Neither the New York Times nor Washington Post ran stories in their print editions, both offering naught but brief Web-only blog items. So far as I could determine, President Obama has said nothing about the decline in U.S. greenhouse emissions. Environmental lobbyists haven't said much either. Check the Sierra Club announcements page.
For decades the establishment media have said that rising greenhouse emissions are a super-mega-ultra emergency. If last week's numbers had shown a carbon emissions rise, the likely response would have been Page 1 stories crying doomsday. Instead when the problem diminished, silence.
Needless to say, one factor is that bad new sells while good news is buried. Another factor is that the U.S. carbon dioxide decline is occurring without central control, owing to market forces -- more natural gas, a clean fuel, is being used to generate electricity, while individuals and businesses are deciding of their own free choice to buy higher-efficiency vehicles that use less oil, and to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Had the new numbers been the result of some complicated, expensive Washington regulatory scheme -- in 2009, Obama proposed mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases, but his proposal failed in Congress -- surely mainstream news outlets, and the president, would have claimed success. Because what happened was a free-market result, OMG, don't say anything! [bold mine] 
Although his point about the silence from media and politicians is a good one, it's not what I want to focus on here.  Instead, I want to point to a post I made 4 years ago where I said that U.S. emissions would decline significantly without government regluation.  Read the whole post again, but one line in particular is telling:
government needs to be willing to get out of the way and let the markets do their job
It is possible to be pro-environment and still anti-regulation. Sometimes the wisest course of action is inaction.