Carpe Diem

Technologies opposed by environmentalists – fracking and genetic modification – have cut CO2 emissions to 20-yr. low

From Matt Ridley’s Saturday WSJ article, also available on his blog:

“The use of less fuel in farming genetically modified (GM) crops results in less carbon-dioxide emission. In addition, herbicide-tolerant GM crops can often be grown with little or no plowing in stubble fields that are sprayed with herbicides. The result is to allow more carbon to remain in the soil, since plowing releases carbon as microbial exhalation. Taken together, Messrs. Brookes and Barfoot estimate [in their 2012 comprehensive study on GM crops], this means that the GM crops grown in 2010 had an effect on carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 8.6 million cars off the road.”

“There is a rich irony here. The rapidly growing use of shale gas in the U.S. has also driven down carbon-dioxide emissions by replacing coal in the generation of electricity. U.S. carbon emissions are falling so fast they are now back to levels last seen in the 1990s (see chart above). So the two technologies most reliably and stridently opposed by the environmental movement-genetic modification and fracking-have been the two technologies that most reliably cut carbon emissions.”

HT: Warren Smith

Update: The chart below shows annual CO2 emissions from 1973 to 2012 in the U.S. on a per capita basis to adjust for increases in population. Over just the last seven years, CO2 emissions per capita have fallen by almost 19% from 20.25 tons per capita in 2005 to 16.44 tons per capita in 2012 (based on data through the first half of the year).

19 thoughts on “Technologies opposed by environmentalists – fracking and genetic modification – have cut CO2 emissions to 20-yr. low

  1. You don’t think the actual objective of environmentalists has much to do with carbon-dioxide do you? They’re about as interested in achieving carbon-dioxide reduction as Al Sharpton is in racial harmony.

    • It seems that much of the opposition comes from “organic” farmers who fear cross pollination of their “pure” crops. Besides that, there are plenty of ill-informed people who fear anything they don’t understand, even though most crops raised these days have been “genetically modified” beyond recognition through selection.

  2. Warmists themselves set up CO2 levels as the rabbit to chase when measuring the onslaught of a warming earth – but no empirical evidence exists to prove their theory that is and has been hard-coded into their climate models.

    On the other hand, skeptics have argued that Sol is the mover and shaker of our climate fluctuations. This theory is supported by historic graphs. Now comes the latest and greatest CERN research that ties cosmic ray activity originating in the sun as directly affecting cloud formations on earth – so CO2 is and always has been a red herring. Without CO2, life as we know it, goes away.

    So how is it, short of emphasizing an irony, a worthwhile comparison to link CO2 emission reductions to fracking? I am unsure just how these emissions are even measured but I am betting that there must be some Kentucky windage employed in the calculation.

  3. Heh!

    Good one seattle sam

    One thing for sure is that the John Deere tractors that were used in the fifties and sixties such as the model 40 T and 40 U series expelled a lot more soot than today’s model 5 and 6 series of John Deere…

  4. Also, a deep four-year economic depression, after a 25-year economic boom, likely improved the environment substantially, along with each $1 in government spending for much less than $1 of “clean energy.”

    • A good environment requires a healthy economy. Look at the environment in any poor country to see what recession or depression does to the environment.

  5. Jon, there is a hostility to GM plants, on the part of Environmentalists, which defies logic. I have asked for, and not received, proof of any harm. But, spurious legations abound.

    Along with the fear, comes a hysteria against Monsanto. The assumption is that some fantastical conspiracy is at work. I’ve never been able to make sense of the polemics.

    PS. I’ve often asked Environmentalists what was the most beneficial time on Earth. I tell them it is the Holocene Optimum, 7 to 8 thousand years ago. The rain forests in the Congo and the Amazon was half again larger. he Sahara was grass lands. Yes, the oceans were four to six feet higher, but the amount of cultivatable lands was much larger because the higher latitudes got rain, not snow. The tree line in Scandinavia was up at 8 thousand feet. The Co2 level was higher than today, but that was because the Earth was two and a half degrees Celsius warmer. Warm weather releases Co2 from the Oceans, like a warm soda will rapidly loose its fizz, but a cold one won’t.

  6. If CO2 is not a pollutant and not contributing to global warming, who cares if the amount per person is reduced?

    If Global warming is eventually beneficial, why even bring this up?

    Even If global warming is eventually beneficial, how does that speak to the expense related to adjusting to the changes?

    What is the relationship between tons per capita and population? Is the total amount increasing or decreasing?

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