NYT's Eduardo Porter Finds Ideal 'Model' for Reducing Pollution: The Great Recession

New York Times economics reporter turned liberal columnist Eduardo Porter really buried the lead in his latest column, "A Model For Reducing Emissions." And what is that model, exactly? The recession!

Who would have thought the United States would one day be a leader in cutting greenhouse gas emissions?

This is the nation, after all, where a former chairman of the Senate committee on the environment, James Inhofe, wrote a book about global warming called “The Greatest Hoax.” This is where a presidential election took place not six months ago in which climate change barely merited a mention, buried under an avalanche of promises to dig for coal and drill for oil.

Fuel economy performance for cars and trucks is still among the worst in the developed world. And only 7 percent of the nation’s energy comes from renewable sources, less than in most other advanced nations.

Yet when President Obama talked about the nation’s energy revolution during his State of the Union address last month, he could have boasted that American emissions of CO2 had fallen almost 13 percent since 2007. It was perhaps the biggest decline among industrial countries, and substantially steeper than in Europe, which has been much more committed to combating climate change.

Porter's punch line comes in paragraph nine:

But the main reasons are economic. The great recession and the world’s sluggish recovery have depressed energy use. As in the 1970s, high oil prices have encouraged drivers to drive less, and switch to cars and trucks with better fuel economy.

After a surprise half-endorsement of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” of shale rocks to obtain petroleum and natural gas, Porter returned to his standard-issue environmental exaggerations.

Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris, points out that if civilization is to avoid catastrophic climate change, only about one third of the 3,000 gigatons of CO2 contained in the world’s known reserves of oil, gas and coal can be released into the atmosphere.