American industries and companies are investigating what they can do to independently reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and instead harness more sustainable energy.
Estimates assign thirty percent of the greenhouse gasses emitted by the United States to electrical energy production. In his book Why We Hate the Oil Companies, John Hofmeister, once the president of Shell Oil, noted a shift in power usage around the 1970s. For a long time, the most egregious power hoarders were large businesses and office parks. However, as more and more families grew their stash of kitchen appliances and chargeable devices, individual homes started to zap a larger percent of the energy produced. Today, it seems like everyone is constantly charging something, and at any given moment, may have up to half of the outlets in their homes pulling energy.
Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering tracks the carbon emitted specifically from the industry of electrical power generators. According to a report they recently released, emissions intensity has dipped by almost one quarter since 2005. Instead, more power generators are choosing efficient and carbon-friendly processes.
A little over half of the reduction in carbon emissions comes directly as a result of an industry shift from coal-powered electricity to natural gas, and the rest of the credit goes to the improved efficiency of production and an increase in renewable sources of energy generation.
Going forward, everyone in the US is going to have to play their part. Individual citizens are going to have to reduce the amount of electricity they use daily to charge their devices and power their appliances. Electricity producers are also going to have to get creative in how they continue to streamline the production of energy and look for cleaner, greener sources of it.
All of this reduction in the emissions of harmful chemicals and gases is good, but it may be too little too late. NATO in conjunction with the Pentagon recently released a special report that names climate change as a “threat multiplier.” That is, in areas where the economy and/or government is already unstable, climate change can considerably worsen the fate of the nations by causing even more disastrous natural disasters including droughts and floods. The Defense Department also notes that climate change has made security and peacekeeping much more difficult. Between displacement due to famines and fragile economies, migrating people seeking a livelihood may cause other nations to heighten their security and exhibit reduced hospitality.
As a nation, we’ll have to continue being creative and resourceful in order to end our addiction to fossil fuels and reduce the carbon emissions thereof. From big electricity producers to average citizens, everyone has to buy into the idea that climate change hurts us all and impacts every part of our lives.