US energy related carbon emissions are falling like a stone, principally because low-priced gas is displacing coal at the nation's power plants, according to EIA data. After dropping to 1996 levels for all of 2011, carbon emissions dropped sharply again in the first quarter of 2012, when they fell to 1992 levels. Amazing!
First quarter 2012 emissions were 8% lower than in the first quarter of 2011. And this enormous drop in just one year is largely the result of the shale gas revolution. But that is a truth that some deny as surely as others deny the reality of global warming--a cruel, tragic irony, indeed.
The EIA also reports reduced use of coal to generate electricity has decreased carbon emissions from coal to 1983 levels. That is not a misprint.
The shale gas revolution in the USA has led to miraculous declines in carbon emissions and it could be doing so in China, India, Europe, and around the world. It is an absolute tragedy that among the biggest obstacles to beginning shale gas production in some countries and slashing quickly carbon emissions can be environmentalists who seek to ban "fracking."
Of course, gas alone is not enough to stabilize climate. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, and many more initiatives are needed as well. And of course gas production must be strongly regulated to minimize risks and maximize benefits.
But, at this point in the world's history, to ban it or strangle gas production is deeply irresponsible. Right now, gas is poised to deliver cheaply both quick and large reductions in the carbon loading of the atmosphere, as is happening in the USA. What is happening in the USA should not just stay here!