The Carbon Crisis

Ecoleaf Carbon Crisis
Green energy may be the future, but without significant changes in the way we produce energy, our future will instead be one of a worsening carbon crisis. The carbon crisis is a human-made problem resulting from the burning of carbon-based energy (a.k.a., coal, oil, and natural gas). The greater the quantities of these carbon fuels that are burned, the more carbon dioxide and harmful greenhouse gas emissions are introduced into the air. We have reached a point where we are far out-producing what the environment can safely absorb.

Not only is this unbalanced equation causing global weather changes, it’s harming our way of life and the quality of the air we breathe. If the clean green future is ever to arrive, we need to understand and accept that electricity is the largest producer of greenhouse gases—it far exceeds the pollution caused by automotive transportation. The air-conditioners we enjoy, the lights and computers we use, and the TVs and entertainment systems we watch are all fueling the carbon crisis. The more consumers around the world who adopt modern conveniences and the greater number of carbon-polluting plants that are built to power these conveniences, the more the world will continue to make the carbon crisis an increasingly-significant issue year after year and decade after decade.

Important Points:

  1. The U.S. produces 22% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

  2. Electrical energy amounts to 39.4% of U.S. greenhouse gas production.

  3. Coal produces 2.3 times more greenhouse gas emissions than natural-gas-powered electricity does.

  1. Coal used in U.S. energy production is responsible for 29.35% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, this accounts for 6.45% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. Coal used in power plants produces 50% of the electricity in the U.S. All of the U.S. wind farms put together only produce 0.5% of the country’s energy needs.

  1. The natural gas that’s used in U.S. energy production is responsible for 10.05% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, this accounts for 2.21% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. Natural gas used in power plants produces 20% of the electricity in the U.S.; meanwhile, solar energy only produces a measly 0.014% of the country’s energy needs.

Here's another thing to think about: according to President Obama’s goals, we are supposed to derive 10% of our energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025. This goal will be hard to achieve considering that the largest renewable energy source in the U.S. is hydroelectric—this technology source has flat-lined at 6.7%.

To further complicate things, if we’re to reach a goal of 10%, other technologies in the renewable energy arsenal (wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean energy) must double their contributions and go from a current one-percent total energy production in the U.S. to a 2% share. This will require the decommissioning of coal and natural gas plants so that the production of renewable energies can be accommodated—the growth rate of energy demand in the U.S. is much less than the growth-rate goals for renewable energies.

To tackle this problem, we not only need new solutions to enable us to roll out renewable energy on a massive scale, we also need to develop solutions designed to reduce the equipment costs of renewable technologies (the equipment required by technologies is much more expensive to purchase and install than the equipment used in coal and natural gas power plants).

If the U.S. is successful in innovating and driving down equipment costs, other countries around the world will follow. If this does not happen, polluting countries like China and other developing countries will continue to use old-age coal and natural gas power plants, thereby further fueling the carbon crisis.



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