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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When Human Consumption Slows, Planet Earth Can Heal

New research debunks myth of climate-friendly fracking revolution

"The study analyzed six possible sources for the change in fossil fuel emissions: population growth, consumption volume, the types of goods consumed, the labor and materials used to produce goods and services, the type of fuel used, and how much energy is used. What the researchers found was that 71 percent of the rise in carbon emissions from 1997 to 2007 was due to "economic growth." Alternately, "83 percent of the decrease during 2007-2009 was due to decreased consumption and changes in the production structure of the U.S. economy," with just 17 percent related to changes in the type of fuels used. Further, during the period of economic recovery from 2009 to 2013, there was a much smaller decrease in emissions of only about one percent. "We conclude that substitution of gas for coal has had a relatively minor role in the... reduction of U.S. CO2 emissions since 2007," the researchers state.

"Commentators in the scientific community and media have linked the two trends, celebrating the climate benefits of the gas boom," the paper notes, which in turn has driven recent changes in U.S. energy policy and investment. However, in reality, the change was due to economic decline, study co-author Klaus Hubacek of University of Maryland told AFP.  "We show clearly that changes in consumption levels, and thus the recession, are mainly responsible," he said."

"Climate change pits what the planet needs to maintain stability against what our economic model needs to sustains itself."    --Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything