This past week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report linking climate change to some of the extreme weather events of 2011, like the devastating drought in Texas and record high temperatures in Britain.
None of this bodes well for the future, but there is a glimmer of hope. It turns out that U.S. carbon emissions are down nearly 8 percent since 2006.
Much of that has to do with the weak economy — people are consuming less electricity. But another part could be related to the decline of coal and the rise of cleaner-burning natural gas. This boom in natural gas has been killing the Appalachian coal industry, but it also has environmental impacts both good and bad.