Post hoc, ergo propter hoc
I took Latin in high school, and I loved unraveling classic phrases like After this, therefore because of this ― a common logical fallacy that attributes event B to event A because A preceded B.
Okay, so that’s not quite what Politico and the New York Times did this week when they linked the sharp drop in power plant emissions in the Northeast U.S. from 2005 to 2012 (“B”) with the regional CO2 trading system known as RGGI (“A”). But they came pretty close:
Politico: Nine Northeastern states already take part in a regional trading network that puts an economic price on their power plants’ carbon output . . . The Northeastern states saw their power plants’ carbon emissions drop more than 40 percent from 2005 to 2012, the trading network told EPA in December — without any of cap-and-trade critics’ apocalyptic expectations for such a system.
The Times: The regional program [RGGI] has proved fairly effective: Between 2005-12, according to program officials, power-plant pollution in the northeastern states it covered dropped 40 percent. [Read more...]