Energy-Related CO2 Levels in U.S. Down 3.8 Percent Last Year

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Finally, some good news for the environment. It doesn’t come that often, but when it does we should pay attention and grab hold for some optimism.

In what is the biggest drop since 1990, this week the Department of Energy reported that carbon dioxide levels were down 3.8 percent in 2012, to 5.83 billion tons. 2011 saw the release of 6.06 billion pounds, so at least we’re headed in the right direction. And while it’s being reported that the lower emissions amount is due to warmer weather, higher MPG cars, and a reduction of coal-fired power plants, some are saying that the drop may be short-lived as it be partly because of the bad economy. In 2009, levels fell by 7.1 percent, which was linked to the economic slowdown.

“This latest drop in energy-related carbon emissions is reason for cautious optimism that we’re already starting to move in the right direction,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann. “But this alone will not lead us toward the dramatic carbon reductions necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.”

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However, a serious reduction in the number of coal-fired power plants, now only providing 37 percent of our nation’s power needs (natural gas is expanding rapidly), is a welcome addition to the fight against climate change. Regardless of whether or not that’s the cause of the 3.8 percent drop, the less burning of coal, the better. We still have a long way to go, as America still continues to spew a whopping 368,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per second. But the good news is that our energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have declined in 5 out of the last 7 years.

Around the globe, carbon emissions continue to climb, with China “leading” the way on pollution production. In 2008, the top CO2 emitter was China followed by the United States, and that one-two punch continues today. But some progress is good, don’t you think?

[via ABC News & U.S. Energy Information Administration]

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