Though accounting for only 5 percent of the world's population,
Americans consume 26 percent of the world's energy. (American
In 1997, U.S. residents consumed an average of 12,133
kilowatt-hours of electricity each, almost nine times greater than
the average for the rest of the world. (Grist Magazine)
Worldwide, some 2 billion people are currently without
electricity. (U.S. Department of Energy)
Total U.S. residential energy consumption is projected to
increase 17 percent from 1995 - 2015. (U.S. Energy Information
World energy consumption is expected to increase 40% to 50% by
the year 2010, and the global mix of fuels--renewables (18%),
nuclear (4%), and fossil (78%)--is projected to remain
substantially the same as today; thus global carbon dioxide
emissions would also increase 50% to 60%.
Among industrialized and developing countries, Canada consumes
per capita the most energy in the world, the United Sates ranks
second, and Italy consumes the least among industrialized
Developing countries use 30% of global energy. Rapid population
growth, combined with economic growth, will rapidly increase that
percentage in the next 10 years.
The World Bank estimates that investments of $1 trillion will
be needed in this decade and upwards of $4 trillion during the
next 30 years to meet developing countries' electricity needs
America uses about 15 times more energy per person than does
the typical developing country.
Residential appliances, including heating and cooling equipment
and water heaters, consume 90% of all energy used in the U.S.
The United States spends about $440 billion annually for
energy. Energy costs U.S. consumers $200 billion and U.S.
manufacturers $100 billion annually.
Worldwide, 1995 was the warmest year since global temperatures
were first kept in 1856. This supports the near consensus among
climatologists that emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases
are causing global warming. (Chivilan and Epstein, Boston
On average, 16 million tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into
the atmosphere every 24 hours by human use worldwide. (U.S.
Department of Energy)
Carbon emissions in North America reached 1,760 million metric
tons in 1998, a 38 percent increase since 1970. They are expected
to grow another 31 percent, to 2,314 million metric tons, by the
year 2020. (U.S. Department of Energy)
The United States is the world's largest single emitter of
carbon dioxide, accounting for 23 percent of energy-related carbon
emissions worldwide. (U.S. Department of Energy)
An average of 23,000 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted
annually in each American home. (U.S. Environmental Protection
The transportation sector consumed 35% of the nation's energy
in 1990; this sector is 97% dependent on petroleum.
Fossil fuels are depleted at a rate that is 100,000 times
faster than they are formed.
Approximately 30,000 lives are cut short in the U.S. each year
due to pollution from electricity production. (ABT Associates
About 81 tons of mercury are emitted into the atmosphere each
year as a result of electric power generation. Mercury is the most
toxic heavy metal in existence. (U.S. Environmental Protection
Burning fossil fuels to produce energy releases carbon dioxide
and other global-warming-causing gases into the atmosphere. Global
warming will increase the incidence of infectious diseases
(including equine encephalitis and Lyme disease), death from heat
waves, blizzards, and floods, and species loss. (Chivilan and
Epstein, Boston Globe, April 10, 1997)
The United States consumes about 17 million barrels of oil per
day, of which nearly two-thirds is used for transportation.
The United States imports more than seven million barrels of
oil per day.
While the world's population doubled between 1950 and 1996, the
number of cars increased tenfold. Automobile congestion in the
United States alone accounts for $100 billion in wasted fuel, lost
productivity, and rising health costs. Still, analysts project
that the world's fleet of cars will double in a mere 25 years.
Americans use a billion gallons of motor oil a year, 350
million gallons of which end up polluting the environment.
(Department of Energy and Maryland Energy
A car that gets 20 miles per gallon (mpg) emits approximately
50 tons of global-warming-inducing carbon dioxide over its
lifetime, while a 40-mpg car emits only 25 tons. Over the average
lifetime of an American car (100,000 miles), a 40-mpg car will
also save approximately $3,000 in fuel costs compared to a 20-mpg
car. (Natural Resources Defense Council)
The cars and trucks reaching the junkyards this year have
higher gasoline mileage, on average, than the new ones rolling off
dealers' lots, for the first time on record. (Matt Wald,
The New York Times, August 11, 1997)
Only 7.5 percent of total U.S. energy consumption came from
renewable sources in 1998. Of that total, 94 percent was from
hydropower and biomass (trash and wood incinerators). (U.S.
Energy Information Administration)
For the 2 billion people without access to electricity, it
would be cheaper to install solar panels than to extend the
electrical grid. (The Fund for Renewable Energy
Within 15 years, renewable energy could be generating enough
electricity to power 40 million homes and offset 70 days of oil
Providing power for villages in developing countries is a
fast-growing market for photovoltaics. The United Nations
estimates that more than 2 million villages worldwide are without
electric power for water supply, refrigeration, lighting, and
other basic needs, and the cost of extending the utility grids is
prohibitive, $23,000 to $46,000 per kilometer in 1988.
A one kilowatt PV system* each month:
prevents 150 lbs. of coal from being mined
prevents 300 lbs. of CO2 from entering the
keeps 105 gallons of water from being consumed
keeps NO and SO2 from being released into the
* in Colorado, or an equivalent system that
produces 150 kWh per month
Wind power is the fastest-growing energy source in the world.
The wind in North Dakota alone could produce a third of
America's electricity. (The Official Earth Day Guide to Planet
Wind power has the potential to supply a large
fraction--probably at least 20%--of U.S. electricity demand at an
In 1990, California's wind power plants offset the emission of
more than 2.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, and 15 million
pounds of other pollutants that would have otherwise been
Using 100 kWh of wind power each month is equivalent to:
planting ½ acre of trees
not driving 2,400 miles
Research shows that an average household with an electric water
heater spends about 25% of its home energy costs on heating
Solar water heaters offered the largest potential savings, with
solar water-heater owners saving as much as 50% to 85% annually on
their utility bills over the cost of electric water heating.
You can expect a simple payback of 4 to 8 years on a
well-designed and properly installed solar water heater. (Simple
payback is the length of time required to recover your investment
through reduced or avoided energy costs.)
Solar water heaters do not pollute. By investing in one, you
will be avoiding carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide,
and the other air pollution and wastes created when your utility
generates power or you burn fuel to heat your household water.
When a solar water heater replaces an electric water heater, the
electricity displaced over 20 years represents more than 50 tons
of avoided carbon dioxide emissions alone.
Using biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine substantially
reduces emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide,
sulfates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrated polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons, and particulate matter.
can be used at 100% levels or mixed in any proportion with
No. 2 diesel or No. 1 diesel.
Contains no nitrogen or aromatics
Typically contains less than 15 ppm sulfur - Does not
contribute to sulfur dioxide emissions
Has characteristically low carbon monoxide, particulate, soot
and hydrocarbon emissions
Contains 11% oxygen by weight
Has the highest energy content (BTUs) of any alternative fuel
and is comparable to No. 1 diesel.
Over 4,000 electric vehicles are operating throughout the
United States (with the largest number in California and the
western United States).
More than 20,000 flexible-fuel vehicles are in operation.
Over 75,000 natural gas vehicles in U.S. and nearly 1 million
By taking appropriate energy-saving measures, by 2010 the
United States can have an energy system that reduces costs by $530
per household per year and reduces global warming pollutant
emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels. (Energy Innovations
Just by using the "off the shelf" energy-efficient technologies
available today, we could cut the cost of heating, cooling, and
lighting our homes and workplaces by up to 80%. (U.S.
Department of Energy and Maryland Energy Administration)
Replacing one incandescent lightbulb with an energy-saving
compact fluorescent bulb means 1,000 pounds less carbon dioxide is
emitted to the atmosphere and $67 dollars is saved on energy costs
over the bulb's lifetime. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
and Alliance to Save Energy)
A decrease of only 1% in industrial energy use would save the
equivalent of about 55 million barrels of oil per year, worth
about $1 billion.
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