Many people favor Big Government solutions to the problem of carbon emissions. For example, the Green New Deal proposed by the Democrats would abolish all gas, oil and coal energy. That plan would raise taxes and require massive restrictions on free markets and individual consumers. But there is a better way, and it was just published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science.
Economist Robert P. Murphy wrote a very interesting article about the new study for the Mises Institute.
A recent article in the Guardian trumpeted the findings of a new study published in Science that found massive tree planting would be — by far — the cheapest and most effective approach to mitigating climate change. Ironically, the new thinking shows the pitfalls of political approaches to combating so-called “negative externalities.” The good news about tree planting disrupts the familiar narrative about carbon taxes that even professional economists have been feeding the public for years.
He quotes the Guardian article so:
Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.
As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.
[…]“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zurich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”
OK, so this plan will work, but will it cost less than the $52.6 to $93 trillion dollars over 10 years needed for the Green New Deal?
Citing a figure that planting a new tree costs roughly 30 cents, Prof. Crowther remarked that we could plant the target of 1 trillion trees by spending about $300 billion.
Just FYI, the cost per household for the Green New Deal is between $361,010 and $653,010, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
As a conservative, I recognize that sometimes I have to be willing to spend taxpayer money on a small government solution in order to avoid other big government solutions to a problem. The same thing is true for individual health savings accounts funded by a government voucher. I don’t like spending taxpayer money, but sometimes spending a little is better than creating a huge bureaucracy that will require spending a lot more.
The study comes out of Yale University, and was published in PNAS. Pretty good school, pretty good peer-reviewed journal.
Here’s the introduction:
Organic compounds found in drinking water aquifers above the Marcellus Shale and other shale plays could reflect natural geologic transport processes or contamination from anthropogenic activities, including enhanced natural gas production. Using analyses of organic compounds coupled with inorganic geochemical fingerprinting, estimates of groundwater residence time, and geospatial analyses of shale gas wells and disclosed safety violations, we determined that the dominant source of organic compounds to shallow aquifers was consistent with surface spills of disclosed chemical additives. There was no evidence of association with deeper brines or long-range migration of these compounds to the shallow aquifers. Encouragingly, drinking water sources affected by disclosed surface spills could be targeted for treatment and monitoring to protect public health.
So, the fracking – which happens deep below the earth – didn’t introduce any new chemical additives into the water. Basically, fracking involves fracturing rocks using high pressure water, sand and chemicals. The question is whether chemicals and/or the fracking fluid contaminate the water supply used by humans. The answer, according to this study, is no. The distance between the water supply and the shale is simple far, far, far too great for the cracks to traverse. The minor contamination from surface spills is easy to detect and cleanup. This is not what you see on far left web sites and Hollywood movies, but it is what you see in studies down by Yale University scientists published in prestigious peer-reviewed science journals.
Anyway, this study is consistent with a report from the far-left radically environmentalist Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it finds no evidence that hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — has led to widespread pollution of drinking water. The oil industry and its backers welcome the long-awaited study while environmental groups criticize it.
“We found the hydraulic fracturing activities in the United States are carried out in a way that has not led to widespread systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” says Tom Burke, Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “In fact, the number of documented impacts to drinking water resources is relatively low when compared to the number of fractured wells,” he adds.
The EPA’s draft assessment was conducted at the request of Congress. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date,” says Burke, “including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”
Fracking has allowed drillers to tap oil and natural gas reserves once thought off-limits deep underground. That has led to drilling booms across the country and boosted the country’s oil and natural gas production significantly. But environmental groups have long argued fracking comes with a cost to the environment, especially to water. Those groups have called for stronger regulations and even bans on fracking altogether.
[…]The American Petroleum Institute says the conclusions echo what the oil industry has argued all along. “Hydraulic fracturing is being done safely under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices,” says Erik Milito, API upstream group director.
Acknowledging the potential vulnerabilities outlined in the EPA report, Milito says, “Continuous safety improvements have been an ongoing part of hydraulic fracturing for 65 years.”
Indeed. This is not the first time that the radically leftist EPA has cleared the fracking industry, either. I blogged about the last one for Dimock, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has completed its sampling of private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pa. Data previously supplied to the agency by residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Exploration had indicated the potential for elevated levels of water contaminants in wells, and following requests by residents EPA took steps to sample water in the area to ensure there were not elevated levels of contaminants. Based on the outcome of that sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency.
[…]Overall during the sampling in Dimock, EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. In all cases the residents have now or will have their own treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap. EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.
So, if you want to worry about fracking, it will have to be because of something other than facts. We have facts piled on facts piled on facts, and they all say that fracking is a great way for us to get cheap, clean energy that doesn’t pollute the environment or contaminate our water supply. You have to be anti-science to doubt this data. Democrats do oppose fracking. They don’t know about the science, they just oppose it because that’s what’s in the popular culture, in Hollywood movies, etc. We have to fight them with the science. Democrats are the anti-science party, so don’t expect this to alter their rhetoric.
Imagine if a business dumped a million gallons of mine waste into Animas River in Colorado, turning it into what looked like Tang, forcing the sheriff’s office to close the river to recreational users, and prompting the EPA to warn farmers to shut off water intakes along the river.
Oh, and imagine that the business also failed to warn officials in downstream New Mexico about the spill.
Such a calamity would probably lead the nightly news, with calls from environmentalists and the EPA for investigations, fines, lawsuits, and tougher pollution controls.
Except in this case it’s the EPA itself that is to blame.
Newsbusters notes that the mainstream media is mum – because they are all for big government, and big government never makes mistakes:
Yet here we are four days later, and the story has gotten very little visibility outside of center-right blogs and outlets. That’s largely explained by how the wire services have handled the story. After the jump, readers will see headlines and descriptions of the stories which have appeared thus far at the web site of the New York Times:
No headline acknowledges the EPA’s admitted responsibility for the spill. Only one headline mentions the EPA at all.
[…]Although the first AP report parroted the EPA’s claim that “that there was no threat to drinking water from the spill,”a story at the Denver Post yesterday indicated that “Tests show (Animas River) water (is) acidic as coffee,” and that“EPA officials on Saturday morning also said they are bracing for another surge of acid discharge from mines above Silverton.” In other words, the ordeal is far from being over.