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No Silver Bullet

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy, CO2 emissions in the United States have dropped to the lowest levels since 1992.

The focus of the analysis done by scientists and journalists has been attempting to discern the reasons for the drop. However, this type of analysis is missing a larger point: efforts to combat the rise in CO2 emissions in the U.S. have worked.

Granted, identifying which efforts worked and didn’t work is important for repeating the success, but it cannot be ignored that on a macro-scale, it worked.

A combined rise in natural gas usage, CO2 emission reduction strategies, an unusually warm winter, and a weak economy that prompted less demand for gasoline contributed to the decrease in emissions. The warm winter and the economy were somewhat uncontrollable, yet if taken into account they can still be effective parts of a greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy.

A multi-faceted approach epitomizes the necessity for successful environmental strategies to be diversified while many, especially those in Congress, are perpetually searching for the “silver bullet” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A system as complex as the environment cannot be fixed by a single simple solution, but instead needs a solution capable of being tailored to individual problems, while still maintaining overall success. For example, if a patient walks into an emergency room with a broken arm, sinus pressure, and an irregular heartbeat, a simple ibuprofen will not be effective. However, a cast on the arm, sinus medication, surgical procedures and a lifestyle change will likely prove very effective.

A multi-faceted strategy has been proven effective in reducing CO2 emissions, and though initially difficult for the country to transition, it paid off. “Silver bullet” solutions would be great and simplify everything, but unfortunately, they usually don’t exist.

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