Telling Stories

Activists gathered in New York City this past weekend for the "People's Climate March" that brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Manhattan in order to tell "the story of today's climate movement." 
 
These activists were encouraged by leading scientific thinkers and climate experts, such as Mark Ruffalo (the Incredible Hulk), Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting (the singer not the professional wrestler) and other celebrities who jetted to New York in order to urge on the marchers.
 
While the organizers of the event should be commended for their large and enthusiastic turnout, it seems that many of the attendees have some critical misunderstandings about the landscape of American energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a Reuters report, American “greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10 percent from 2005 to 2012” and “dropped 3.4 percent from 2012 to 2011” due in large part to “fuel switching from coal to natural gas.”
 
Despite the fact that increased shale gas production has slashed American carbon emissions more than any complicated government regulatory scheme, many marchers sought to turn the climate rally into an anti-shale energy rally.
 
This caught the attention of Jared Anderson of the Breaking Energy blog, who observed “one would assume that at a march devoted to addressing climate change, anti-coal sentiment would be louder than calls for reduced natural gas production given coal’s much more extreme greenhouse gas emissions profile.”
 
Regardless of your feelings about climate change policy, low carbon shale gas presents a realistic opportunity for achieving substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while also preserving a vibrant and growing American economy. Those who are marching for updated climate change policies would be wise to understand and seize the environmental benefits that shale gas offers if they want to tell the full story on climate change issues in 2014. 

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