When Preliminary Means Preliminary

When the US Government releases a report stating that CO2 emissions reduced by 1.3% in absolute terms despite the economy growing it definitely catches my eye.

But it has lead to some to question the viability of the premise that many conservatives have long held that the only way to shrink carbon emissions is to shrink the economy:

"This should be a wakeup call to conservatives who contend that any whiff of man-made greenhouse gas management will destroy the most powerful economy on earth. It’s also a poke in the eye to all those Goreons out there driving their SUVs to global warming worship services to commiserate on the evils of America and pray they could be more like the EU (whose gas problem was worse in 2006, by the way)."

If the author is suggesting that we can reduce carbon emissions while still growing the economy like most environmentalists suggest, the facts just don't add up that way.

The 1.3 percent drop in CO{-2} emissions marks the first time that U.S. pollution linked to global warming has declined in absolute terms since 2001 and the first time it has gone down since 1990 while the economy was thriving. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in both 2001 and 1991, in large part because of economic slowdowns during those years.

History has shown that during economic slow downs and recessions carbon emissions drop. That has been the only time in recorded history that we have evidence of man made CO2 emissions dropping. That's just the facts.

So this latest report of the US government is either tremendously historic, or their is something everyone is missing.

Unfortunately, on further examination of the report I quickly discovered what was missing.

The first problem is this: the report is an estimate. It lists at least twice this source: "Energy Information Administration, preliminary estimate for 2006." Further the title of the report includes the word "...estimate..."

In the notes it mentions: "All 2006 data are preliminary."

Unfortunately no confidence interval, or examination of the potential sources of errors exist. This means that these results could be amended at some point in the future and the confidence we should take in them is unknown.

But also, there's one point the report makes that no one is paying attention to. The drop may be the cause of weather."Weather conditions were favorable for emission reductions in 2006..." The US had a milder winter and a cooler summer. Wow. Now that sure won't sell a headline.

So before we all start consecrating ourselves to the carbon emissions Gods, I suggest we wait until the report isn't preliminary any more.

At this point all we really can conclude is that it APPEARS as if carbon emissions were lower than expected in the US last year. In fact they might have been better than they were in the True North Strong And Free. So it suggests that perhaps other countries should be looking to the US to see what they are doing to combat CO2 emissions... But that would require people accepting what the US has already accepted: believing that miraculously CO2 emissions will drop by a third in 5 years without destroying the economy is a fantasy.

No comments:

Post a Comment