business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Associated Press reports that there's actually some good news on the environmental front - "Earth’s protective ozone layer is slowly but noticeably healing at a pace that would fully mend the hole over Antarctica in about 43 years."

The conclusions are contained in a new United Nations report.

According to the story, "A once-every-four-years scientific assessment found recovery in progress, more than 35 years after every nation in the world agreed to stop producing chemicals that chomp on the layer of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere that shields the planet from harmful radiation linked to skin cancer, cataracts and crop damage … Scientists and environmental advocates across the world have long hailed the efforts to heal the ozone hole — springing out of a 1987 agreement called the Montreal Protocol that banned a class of chemicals often used in refrigerants and aerosols — as one of the biggest ecological victories for humanity."

Decades ago, the AP points out, "people could go into a store and buy a can of refrigerants that eat away at the ozone, punch a hole in it and pollute the atmosphere … Now, not only are the substances banned but they are no longer much in people’s homes or cars, replaced by cleaner chemicals."

In other words, sometimes regulation works.  Which all by itself ought to be an Eye-Opener.

However, the New York Times points out that we probably should avoid patting ourselves on the back too much:

"America’s greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry rose last year, moving the nation in the opposite direction from its climate goals, according to preliminary estimates published Tuesday by the Rhodium Group, a nonpartisan research firm.

Emissions ticked up 1.3 percent even as renewable energy surpassed coal power nationwide for the first time in over six decades, with wind, solar and hydropower generating 22 percent of the country’s electricity compared with 20 percent from coal."

The Times goes on:

"The emissions estimate reflects a continued rebound from 2020 pandemic lows. The initial outbreak of the coronavirus triggered widespread lockdowns and slashed U.S. energy use to its lowest level in decades, with emissions plummeting more than 10 percent. They rebounded 6.2 percent in 2021 as the economy began to bounce back, but ongoing supply chain disruptions and new coronavirus variants dampened the recovery. The smaller rise in 2022 emissions came amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, the resulting global energy crisis, and high inflation."

So, the UN report on the ozone layer makes it clear that we can make progress.  But  the Rhodium Group study suggests that we aren't doing nearly enough.

Dominus dat et dominus aufert.