MINOT, N.D. — Last week the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists organized a “climate strike” in Grand Forks and Fargo.
The rallies were inspired by angry Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future events, described as a "global climate strike movement."
The events featured the same dozens of activists who seemingly take to the streets every few weeks to wave their signs indignantly about something. These events were dutifully reported on as things that happened, but let's be honest, socialist cranks saying hyperbolic things about some political topic is a dog-bites-man story.
As I read about the protests, though, I couldn't help thinking about environmental progress, and who is actually responsible for it.
Believe it or not, it's not been Thunberg or the belligerent socialists who are always eager to latch onto a crisis to justify their preferred expansion of government control to every aspect of our lives. The most remarkable progress toward reducing emissions made in our lifetimes has come from the oil, gas, and coal industries.
Over the last decade, the United States has risen to the top of the list in terms of global oil and gas production. That's always a moving target. The oil and gas markets are nothing if not volatile. Also, you may have heard, there's been a global pandemic doing weird things to all markets, including energy.
Still, there's no question, thanks to a boom in both oil and gas production set off by the marvelous (but much-maligned by the Thunberg crowd) industrial innovation called fracking, that production levels have been at or near historic highs for years now.
But here's where things get good.
That production spike has happened alongside a dramatic decline in CO2 emissions. "The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis — a fall of 140 Mt [million tons], or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt [gigatons]," according to the International Energy Agency.
In 2020, "global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.4%, or 2.3 billion tonnes," according to Nature, and although the pandemic had something to do with that, it was America leading the way once again: "The United States contributed the most to the global dip, with a nearly 13% decrease in its emissions."
This isn't just a pandemic-era trend. According to the EPA, "emissions from large facilities decreased by more than 14% from 2011 to 2019" and with "respect to power plant emissions specifically, GHG emissions from this sector decreased by 25% between 2011 and 2019."
This happened because of fracking. It's unlocked an ocean of clean-burning natural gas reserves and allowed America to curb emissions dramatically.
The environmentalists deride fracking. They've been sharpening their knives for carbon capture, too, which has the potential to revolutionize cheap baseload energy like coal.
Maybe it's time we stopped listening to them?
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.