Skip to main content

We live in oddly paradoxical times. People from all walks of life consistently vote and act in ways that are not in their own best interests. We all face the question of why low and middle class wage earners would vote republican. They are essentially voting for the party that cares least for their needs. The party that will always put the needs of the wealthy above any concerns for their wellbeing.

And yet like the zen paradoxes that question whether an act is good or bad, whether an act can be only viewed in the short term, or in the long term consequences of the act, it becomes apparent that outcomes are not always what would be expected.

The last five years of the downturn has produced obvious suffering for millions of poor and middle class workers around the world. There can be no question that austerity policies in Europe and North America have caused widespread unemployment and underemployment, as well as the gutting of the social safety net. It is without question that for those affected, there is no way to view this as positive on a personal level.

It is also a curiosity why the wealthy have carried out such actions. It's obvious that the long term goal is to strip workers of rights, destroy the social safety net, lower their own taxes, and ultimately increase their profit margins.

And yet, all of these actions have a negative effect even to themselves. Lower wages means less spending. Less spending means lower demand. Lower demand means less sales and lower profits. In the end a slow economy, viewed from a purely economical terms, results in a negative outcome for all.

So what is the unintended positive in all this?

For the first time in a century, emissions fell in Europe and the U.S. during the last 5 years overall. Some of this can be attributed to raised emission standards and a switch from coal to natural gas. But the bulk of it can only be attributed to reduced economic output.

It is of course arguable that more progressive governments over the last 5 years would have enacted even more strict environmental policies that would have lowered emissions more than we have seen. They might have done more to invest in green energy. But is it realistic to believe that a move that far to the left would have been even a remote possibility. Is that even a possibility now?
The more likely reality is that we will see more centrist type governments elected in Europe and North America. Centrist governments tend to show more concern for worker rights. But on issues of the economy, centrists do not usually take any actions that may harm international trade or slow economies. While they may do more to solidify the social safety net, and enact more progressive social policies, at they end of the day they are usually still quite business friendly.

World emissions output has still been hitting record highs mainly as a result of China and India. But just how much faster would that acceleration have been if Europe and North America had been operating at full employment, which would have resulted in a larger increase in demand for products produced in developing countries?

Basically, the republicans and international conservative politics have shot themselves, and the rest of us in the foot in purely economic terms. But in the end they have given the environment a small reprieve from even faster economic growth and increased emissions.

The solution for both the economy and the environment is an obvious one. We need an economic boom created by a large shift towards greener energy production and environmentally sustainable development.

 In addition to environmental problems though, in the longer term we need to face the fact that technology will inevitably create a situation where human labour is not needed at the level it is now. When the machines can build the machines, and the computers can develop new ways to build them, it is hard to see where humans can play the role they do now. While the current policy is to raise retirement age, it is hard to see how we will need more people in the workforce rather than less.

Eventually we will need a new model for the economy. Capitalism in its current form, with its dependance on exponential growth, is completely unsustainable on a planet with finite resources. It will be unsustainable to have an economy based on consumer spending by employed workers, when labor will be in less demand.

The problem is that currently no real alternative economic models exists. And even when they do, the transition to a new form of economy, a new form of society is not one that will come suddenly, or painlessly.

In the meantime, while real economic growth for all rather than just a small percentage of us, benefits us on a personal level, it is harmful to the environment.

The republican party as a whole would be happy as a clam to raze the planet to the ground to make a quick buck. But oddly enough, in these strange times, their anti growth policies may in a small way be saving them (and everyone else) from themselves.

Please understand that I am in no way endorsing the actions of conservative governments. I find their policies, whether social, economic, or environmental to be downright repugnant.

It will not be until people have the power to stand up to big business that we will be able to end the stranglehold on our rights and freedoms to have a reasonable standard of living, and to live on a planet that can sustain our population.

Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 3:16 PM PT: I just wanted to say thank you for being featured on the Community Spotlight. I've enjoyed reading the well thought out comments. They have given me a lot to think about.

Originally posted to Shawke on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 01:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Totally agree. (8+ / 0-)
    The solution for both the economy and the environment is an obvious one. We need an economic boom created by a large shift towards greener energy production and environmentally sustainable development.
  •  Confused, huh? You must be seeing double. (0+ / 0-)

    Republicans support high growth policies when in power
    which destroy the environment and pile up debt while maximizing tax cuts.
    Are you claiming that Democrats support those policies?
    We don't. We support sustainable growth and the environment as an issue.
    Republicans support an economic system that favors the
    markets and 'makers', the 1% that lead to bubbles and collapse.
    Democrats support controls over the business speculation
    and preventing bubbles by 'regulation'.

    Gee, you almost sound like some pundit troll ( of the George Will stripe) with your so-called 'paradoxes'.

    •  Diarist is noting an unintended consequence. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shawke, splashy, Dodgerdog1

      You sound almost like you are willfully misunderstanding.

    •  Not confused at all. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think you are confusing the actions of conservatives around the world pre-downturn to the actions of conservatives for the last 4 years.

      Before the downturn, their actions were to create an economic boom through deregulation that would maximize profits for banks and corporations.

      Obviously military action played a major role in their actions.

      I consider their pre-downturn actions to be ACT1 of a 2 part play.

      In my opinion driving up debt levels was to create a future excuse to downsize government.

      After the downturn conservative governments have switched gears. Their main push has been the anti-growth policies of austerity. They have wanted to make the downturn worse, and increase debt levels as a result, so they could enact their long term goals of destroying social safety nets, taking away workers rights, and privatizing government services.

      I have no reason to believe, that Republicans in the U.S. would have acted any differently had they been in power than other conservative governments across the world.

      The goals of the Conservatives have not changed. Just their methods of achieving them have.

    •  Speaking of sounding trollish ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:45:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lower emissions resulting from lower growth has 2 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    huge negatives:

    1. It reinforces the assumption that causation would also run in the opposite direction, with lower emissions causing lower growth, and

    2. It makes huge numbers of people feel as though they cannot afford to support policies seeking lower emissions.

    •  This is a major problem (0+ / 0-)

      And we are seeing the effects of it. Countries such as Spain that were committing large amounts of resources to green energy before the downturn are doing a complete about face.

      People care more about their economic security than they do the longterm consequences of environmental damage.

      We saw a similar effect in the late 90s and early 2000s. Environmental policies were gaining some traction. A short recession though pushed people to the conclusion that it was not worth the pain.

      The unfortunate reality is that higher growth, with our current reliance on fossil fuels does mean a higher level of emissions.

      Does it have to be that way? Of course not. As I stated in my diary, nothing could create an economic boom the same way a sustained push towards green technologies could. The question of course is whether there is the political will, or the will of people who's main worry is at that point is employment.

      I hope for the best, but realize the reality in our situation.

  •  "Reprieve"? Doubtful - new CO2 record coming (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    Projections now are that we'll hit 36 billion tons in anthropogenic output for 2013.

    This is a new all-time record, and total emissions will in all likelihood keep growing for years if not decades to come.

    Many countries, one atmosphere, and no end in sight.

    •  New CO2 record (0+ / 0-)

      I did state in my article that world emissions were hitting record rates. I completely understand and agree that the entire world is affected by output regardless of country of origin.
      My point was that that level of emissions would have been even higher, in an exponential way if North America and Europe had been operating at full potential. Those two continents are the worlds largest consumers. If their economies were at full strength, how much higher would China and India's emissions would have been.

      We need to reduce emissions in a big way and quickly. I was only making the point that we live in a paradoxical world where economic growth equates to higher emissions.

  •  The reason why Corporations don't (0+ / 0-)

    care about losing American consumers... China. With over 300mil in the middle class in China now, they're just replacing the meager few left in America, for the many in China. And they don't even have to pay to ship there products overseas seeing how they already moved all the manufacturing there.

    •  I agree completely. (0+ / 0-)

      But the thing to remember is that China's main emissions are a result of products produced for the rest of the developed world. An economy functioning at a higher level would have produced even faster elevating emissions than we already have.

    •  I'd say (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shawke, LakeSuperior

      the reason why corporations don't care about losing American consumers...myopia.

      Corporations have been operating with a short-term perspective since the early 80's when finance and the hegemony of financialization became the dominant trope in all business schools, business literature, business culture.

      They haven't looked beyond the short term since about 1983.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 04:09:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Financialization (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a gilas girl

        in itself is a part of that issue.
        It seems that actually building things and selling them has taken a back seat to just investing in things, then cashing in when the stock price rises.

        The bridge between the the real economy, and the economy of the investors seems to get narrowing and further away from each other all the time.

        So I do agree this is a part of the issue. People don't put money into a company because they believe in it's long term growth. They put money into it because they believe it may gain 20 cents on the Dow in a couple of days.

    •  There isn’t any Chinese middle class! (0+ / 0-)

      A stupid dangerous myth; a lot of corporate heads believe .
      Urban Chinese households rose to around $3,000 per capita in 2010. WOW!
      That means a typical family of three CAN earns around $9,000 a year. Big shmeal…
      Dat’s about what a typical East European was making under communism (not adjusted to inflation.)
      Very small potatoes… Who needs Americans when we have all these liberated East Europeans just dying for all dat American schlock???
      Besides, China going downhill…..

      •  There is more Chinese middle class than before (0+ / 0-)

        Unfortunately that $3000 per capita rise was not really that well distributed amongst the people. It is mainly a result of a small number of people either rising to the middle class, or becoming extremely wealthy.

        China's big push currently is to raise the number of people to the middle class so it can switch it's economy away from just producing products for other countries, and producing them for themselves. But if it happens at all it will take many years.

        It certainly is debatable what is going to happen in China. Even in the downturn China's GDP growth has been in the 5%-10% range every year.

        But there is a lot of questions about how sustainable that kind of growth is into the future. And that doesn't even take the environmental aspects into account.

  •  We are going to have to separate survival (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From having a job. It's that simple.

    Along with that we will need to give girls/women full reproductive rights, so they can lower the birth rate. They will do that if allowed to and have other things they want to do like contribute in other ways to the world, because birthing a child is painful, dangerous, and can cause long term health problems. Women tend to not want more children than they can provide for.

    In fact, many will opt out of having children at all, for all those reasons. After all, a girl/woman is risking her life to give birth!

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:52:06 PM PST

    •  We will also need to stop being merely consumers (0+ / 0-)

      Our entire economic system is based on being consumers and spending ever larger amounts of money to prop up the economy. From our current economic standpoint people without jobs are not counting as contributing to society.

      As I said in my post, as technology becomes more and more self sufficient, it's hard to imagine how a future with full employment could be a necessity.

      It's interesting on the question of reproductive rights. I recently read an article in Forbes discussing China's one child per couple law. There are several fronts that their law could be attacked.  It's easy to come up with valid points of contention.

      But in the Forbes article, forced abortions and personal rights aren't even mentioned. The only point that is discussed is that lower population levels could damage the future of China's economy due to a lack of consumers and cheap labor.

      I have extremely mixed feelings towards China's one child law. On the one hand, acknowledging that future population growth is damaging to the environment, and brings into the question China's ability to feed even more people in the future seems like an important issue to tackle.

      But I also fully support a woman's right to either have a child, or not have a child. It's not something the government should decide for them. Lowering population through education and support and giving full access to contraceptives or abortion seems fully acceptable to me. But the levels they have taken it to are something else.

      The fact that Forbes can take such a complicated issue, and turn it into something measured purely in dollar signs, is somewhat shocking.  

      •  Yes, the problem in China was tradition (0+ / 0-)

        They did not value girls, because they would go to the family of their husband and wouldn't contribute to the care of their parents when they became elderly. The boys stayed at home doing that, so the parents kept trying to have boys, leading to overpopulation.

        If they had something like Social Security and Medicare, it would help. Changing tradition is difficult, though. It's happening in China more than it was, but it's still a hard slog.

        It has helped in that now the government will pay to educate and support girls the same as they do boys, which has made a big difference in the cities. The rural areas, not so much.

        Women create the entire labor force.
        Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:08:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Carbon emissions may have gone down (0+ / 0-)

    in the US, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if greenhouse gas equivalents (in the sense that one molecule of methane is worth 20 of carbon dioxide) have actually gone up.

    Not a good thing, really.

    •  I'm not sure why methane would have gone up here? (0+ / 0-)

      I suppose if you are including Alaska's melting tundra and glaciers, that could have raised methane emissions some. I don't believe cattle production or any other major source of methane have risen significantly.

      I imagine this is a major issue in Canada and Northern Europe.

       In those areas methane emissions may have risen substantially with the large amounts of arctic tundra.

      Unfortunately that is going to happen almost regardless of future fossil fuel emissions for some time to come, with the long life of CO2 in the atmosphere we have already released.  

      •  Fracking, the source of all the NG that (0+ / 0-)

        has displaced the coal.

        That's where it comes from.

        If somewheres between 2 & 3% leaks during the extraction process, that makes NG worse than coal for climate change; some surveys have shown up to 9% leaks.

        So it's WAY worse than coal.

        •  Saying that natural gas to electricity is worse (0+ / 0-)

          than coal to electricity is just adopting Gasland junk science.   EPA and DOE have both rejected the conclusions of the Howarth paper alleging these high rates of emissions during well completions that you are relying upon.

          Democrats who rely on the scientific concensus concerning global warming and its causation of undesireable, damaging climate changes jeopardize their credibility by adopting junk science approaches in addressing the oil and gas industry.

          •  You keep saying that (0+ / 0-)

            but there are at least as many studies, including from the NOAA (which would seem to be a much more disinterested, i.e., impartial, party) pointing in the opposite direction.

            Of course the EPA and DOE are going to take that position, otherwise they would be admitting that they have been highly derelict (especially the EPA) in carrying out their duties.

            •  While the NOAA work indicated a problem of high (0+ / 0-)

              methane emissions from the vast Uintah production field, nothing in the NOAA work is suitable or appropriate for drawing conclusions or performing emission characterization and emission inventories for individual well sites and process equipment.

              There is no way for the NOAA work to separate and distinguish well construction emissions, well completion emissions, regular production emissions, or to separate or distinguish emissions from natural gas sources from emissions from oil production sources for purposes of apportioning the 60 tons of methane per hour to individual process and emission units and specific hydrocarbon recovery.

              EPA and DOE have taken the position rejecting the Howarth/Ingraffea paper because it isn't a valid methane emissions calculation (they did no emission measurement and sampling in that work) reflecting appropriate and real world conclusions about process-specific and emission-unit-specific methane emission factors for well completion activities.

              •  This reminds me of the tobacco denialism of (0+ / 0-)

                30 years ago when the tobacco executives claimed "no single chemical in tobacco has ever been shown to cause cancer"

                If you parse the words, that is correct - no "single chemical" had been at the time.  But in combination, the 600 or so carcinogens found in cigarette smoke were quite effective at doing so  . . . .

                Similarly, now the defense against fracking is that no "individual' well has been proven to leak 9% methane.   Yeah, OK, true enough - but in aggregate the entire field of wells (let's say 600 of them!) has been shown to do exactly that.  

                Overall your "parsing of words" approach constitutes an incredibly weak defense of fracking, IMHO.  Not sure why you even bother, really.

                •  For anybody new to this issue (0+ / 0-)

                  here's a diary from September of this year (2013) describing the NOAA study I mentioned

                  The other comment-er (commentator, maybe) is hanging his/her hat on EPA reports from well before this information became available.  Google searching shows that pretty much only the likes of the AGA (the American Gas Association) and the AGAA (the American Gas Association of America) really believe the outdated EPA report anymore . . .

                •  You've got that wrong completely (0+ / 0-)
                  the tobacco executives claimed "no single chemical in tobacco has ever been shown to cause cancer"
                  That was not their fundamental claim....their fundamental claim was that cigarette smoking did not cause cancer and lung disease.   I spent 15 years at the American Lung Association, so you're not going to get anything by me on making claims about tobacco industry denial.

                  you said:

                  Similarly, now the defense against fracking is that no "individual' well has been proven to leak 9% methane.   Yeah, OK, true enough - but in aggregate the entire field of wells (let's say 600 of them!) has been shown to do exactly that.  
                  This completely ignores my comment that there is no way to separate methane emissions from oil-related process equipment from natural gas-related process equipment in that NOAA Uintah Basin study.  It also means there is no way to separate well construction and completion emissions from hydrocarbon well production emissions, from gas processing plant emissions.  

                  I don't "defend fracking"....What I defend is effective environmental action, advocacy and enforcement, and adopting Josh Fox's ranting about the oil and gas industry is malpractice, hysteria and scientific misconduct for large portions of the United States environmental movement.

                  Ignorance in the pursuit of environmental and natural resources protection is no virtue.


        •  Natural gas has not displaced coal (0+ / 0-)

          Power plants switch from coal to natural gas depending on price.

          U.S. utilities to burn more coal as natgas prices climb -traders

      •  There's a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        current diary along these lines (limited to Colorado, which isn't even the worse state in this regard)

        •  I was aware of some of the negatives of fracking, (0+ / 0-)

          but not of methane leaks. Thanks for the info.

        •  Thank god methane has (0+ / 0-)

          such a short half life in comparison to CO2. The scary part is that even if we stop tracking, if it continues to warm, methane will continue to be released from permafrost for years to come.

          •  And fracking is the proverbial "small potatoes" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            if the scenario in this article comes to fruition  (despite the title, it's actually mostly about extraction of methane hydrates, which Japan is pursuing extremely aggressively especially since nuclear power is politically not viable there any more).

          •  Do you have a link about the "short half life" (0+ / 0-)

            of methane compared to CO2?

            Because everything I've seen is that atmospheric CO2 is recycled about every 7 years.  

            In reality, that's pretty quick.

            The problem is that humans are constantly adding more to the system, incrementally (but incrementally in a way that is substantially damaging) increasing the atmospheric pool of CO2.

            •  Strictly speaking you are right (0+ / 0-)

              But when methane breaks down, it completely leaves the system. Carbon dioxide on the other hand remains in the system for 100s of years.


              •  The same can be said of carbon dioxide (0+ / 0-)

                but perhaps in the reverse, since it doesn't "break down" so much as be incorporated into, and converted to, other molecules.

                Basically, if no new carbon dioxide were being generated and/or recycled, the same thing could be said about it what you're saying about methane - i.e, that it totally leaves the system.  

                Of course, "new" carbon dioxide is always being produced, so it would be silly to say that.

                It is equally silly to say that about methane, because continuing production (from many sources, including anthropocentric ones and others) ensures that atmospheric levels are not going to go to zero in 7, 100, or however many years you wish to say.

                In both cases there is a balance that nature has set up, and humankind has fucked it up.  That's what is important, not how long either gas persists in the atmosphere per se (which are remarkably similar when you do the math).

                •  What you are saying is not quite correct (0+ / 0-)

                  In the case of methane, if we stopped all man made sources of methane from being released, in about 12 years, the amount of methane in the atmosphere would fall back to normal. Whereas with CO2, if we stopped emitting any man made CO2 sources today, it would be 50-200 years before we saw CO2 levels coming back to normal.

                  When methane breaks down, it isn't just sequestered by oceans or plants, it completely breaks down into other compounds. Unfortunately one of these compounds is CO2.

                  The error in my original comment was to use the term "half-life" when referring to methane. The more appropriate term would have been "atmospheric life" which is quite a different thing.

                  Stopping our methane emissions is certainly an important thing. Please do not get me wrong. It is the fastest way we could avoid warming in the short term.

                  Also, as I mentioned earlier, the amount of methane in the arctic is massive. The feedback loop of methane that could be released by warming could dwarf all other forms of greenhouse gases combined.

                  That's really the methane I'm the most worried about. We can stop fracking. We can't stop the feedback loop of methane being released from warming for centuries to come.

                  But for the long term, it's CO2 we need to get a handle on since whatever we put in now, will continue to effect the planet for possibly centuries.

                  •  And what do you regard as "normal" methane? (0+ / 0-)

                    Do we have to go back 5,000 years or more before humans started growing rice, and thus upsetting the "natural" balance of methane?

                    Or herding "ruminants" thus compounding the problem?

                    Really, the idea the people are going to stop introducing methane into the atmosphere, and 12 years later everything will be hunky dory, is slightly crazy. Simply because it is so unfathomably impossible.

                    And the recent fracking boom is only compounding the problem.  Perhaps even at a magnitude previously unseen by agriculture.  Who knows - it's too early to say.  Nevertheless I remain quite puzzled by those who dismiss the the burgeoning methane emissions as not a significant problem.

                    And wrt to carbon dioxide, a 2% error either way means that "man-made" emissions could be ameliorated in as few as 25 years, or never if the error is in the opposite direction.  IMHO the modeling is just not good enough to discern this finely.   Therefore common sense seems to suggest that all due caution be taken and emissions be ramped down ASAP

                  •  On a different topic, your diary made a big (0+ / 0-)

                    deal about linking the USA and Europe together wrt carbon emissions.

                    In reality, the fracking boom has opened  a huge gulf between the two continents

                    For example, check out a Google search for cheap energy european jobs coming to the USA

                    It's almost like we've become the new China.

    •  Methane (0+ / 0-)

      The 20 Xs equivalency for CO2 is an old number. The new CO2 equivalency for methane is 33 according to the latest peer-reviewed science.

      BUT The Global Warming Potention (GWP) for methane depends very strongly on WHAT PERIOD OF YEARS ONE WANTS TO MAKE THE COMPARISON WITH CO2. That is a policy judgment call.  The numbers 21, 25, and 33 are for a 100-year time horizon, in other words, taken over a 100 year period, how much more heating will methane cause relative to CO2 over 100 years?

      Considering the GWP for methane on a 20 year timeframe the GWP for methane is 105.

      Methane levels are way too high–3x normal.

      (1) What we know for a fact is that methane concentrations in the atmosphere are skyrocketing.

      The EPA has some graphs that show the dramatic spike.  Go  to this website and then specifically to these figures. At the end of this post are the scientific references the EPA used for this information.

      As the charts show, for about 1 million years, methane levels were always between 400 and 800 ppb. Then, all of sudden at the time of the industrial revolution (1850)  when we started big time use of fossil fuels, levels of methane (and CO2) started to climb like crazy.

      Today concentrations are over 1800 ppb, which means that we have essentially tripled (x3) the average concentration going back a million years.

      Whether the leakage rate is 0.1%, 1%, 3%, 10%, doesn’t matter. As an analogy, think about people that are 400 pounds and really obese and suffering from heart disease. Whether they gain another 0.1, 1, 3, or 10 pounds every month moving forward doesn’t matter. Its the wrong question. They need to lose weight, not keep gaining. Translation: we need to stop poking holes in the earth to let the methane out, stop burning fossil fuels, and let nature over time bring the concentration of methane back to the 400 to 800 ppb range.

      (2) How much EPA (or EDF, or UT, or NOAA, or UColorado, or anyone else) “estimates” is irrelevant given how much is already in the atmosphere–TOO MUCH. We know how much is actually in the air. 1800 ppb. 3 times what it should be.

      (3) There are hundreds of thousands of wells, tanks, pipelines, meters, compressors, pumps, flares, etc, all over Texas, OK, LA, and the gulf that have never been tested for methane leaking. The high majority were installed well before the more modern stuff went in the last 10 years in the shale formations, including in the 1950′s, 60′s, and 70′s. . Methane leakage rates from any piece of equipment vary with time. They will vary with place. They will vary with the operator.

      (4) The EPA still says natural gas operations are the leading source of methane.


  •  We've not really switched from coal (0+ / 0-)

    to natural gas. Power plants switch between coal and natural gas depending on which one is cheaper. When natural gas prices go up they switch back to coal.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site