Shale gas makes it easy to be green.
In terms of the political calculus, GHG regulation faces an uncertain future, at least into 2013. And as a flood of cheap gas erodes the perception of an impending environmental crisis, politicians will have less incentive to impose carbon constraints. Does shale gas signal the end of the road for greenhouse gas regulation?
Three years ago, Fortnightly published an excerpt from a speech delivered by economist and bestselling author Steven D. Levitt. In “Horse Manure Crisis,” (December 2007), we recounted an anecdote about the mounting problem of horse manure in New York City in the 1890s. As Levitt explained, manure in the streets was causing health problems that officials feared would impose a practical limit to a city’s growth. Then, of course, Henry Ford industrialized the process of building automobiles, and horse manure became a non-issue.
Levitt told this story to illustrate his point about climate change—namely that all the hand-wringing would prove to be unnecessary. “Almost every problem we’ve faced in society over the last 200 years has been solved almost effortlessly by technology,” he said.