The latest research is that CO2 emissions from the energy sector are about three times as high as they were before the economic crisis and they’re getting worse.
In fact, the United States could emit roughly 8 billion metric tons of CO2 a year by 2050 if it kept up its current pace of fossil fuel extraction and consumption.
“You can do the math on that,” said Richard Shuster, the director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
“We’re burning more coal than we used to, we’re burning fewer oil, we’ve got less natural gas and we’re also getting less sunlight, so there’s more CO2 out there.”
And this is just the beginning.
As the world gets wealthier, the CO2 we’re producing is increasing exponentially.
In 2020, a whopping 18.5 percent of our total carbon footprint came from energy.
That figure will likely continue to increase as more people and companies invest in the clean-energy revolution.
According to Shuster and his colleagues at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the carbon intensity of the world’s energy sector could reach an astounding 6 trillion metric tons by 2065.
To put that in perspective, the average human life expectancy is just over 50 years.
And that doesn’t even include the effects of climate change, which will likely reduce the lives of people for the next 30 years.
“I think we’ve gotten so far on the carbon front that it’s now time to say, ‘OK, what’s next?'”
“It’s time to talk about energy efficiency, it’s time for us to start looking at energy conservation.”
This isn’t the first time the idea of energy efficiency has come up in the scientific community.
In 2006, the New York Times published an article titled “A Carbon-Efficient Future Is Now Possible,” by a trio of professors from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
They argued that if we could reduce the amount of energy we consume from all sources, the world would have a carbon-efficient future.
The authors of that piece argued that “if you were going to take all the energy that is currently being consumed, it would be a good thing to do.”
The idea that we could achieve energy efficiency by decreasing our consumption of fossil fuels was based on a simple concept called the energy return on investment.
According the authors, the more energy we use, the better off we are.
But how accurate are those numbers?
How much energy do we actually need to produce?
And how much energy does it cost to get the same amount of output?
And why are we actually paying more than we’re getting?
“I want to make it very clear,” said Shuster.
“The idea of efficiency is to produce energy for the environment.
I’m not interested in efficiency.”
What is efficiency?
Efficiency refers to the amount or efficiency of energy that can be used in a given amount of time.
When you think of energy consumption in terms of energy return, efficiency refers to how efficiently it returns energy to the environment, or how much of that energy can be recovered from the environment at a later time.
This efficiency of use can be measured by looking at how much power plants use energy to heat water.
The Energy Return on Energy is the ratio of the energy used to the energy needed to heat the water.
In general, higher energy returns are associated with higher efficiency of the process.
In order to calculate energy return efficiency, researchers use the amount that the energy system produces versus the amount required to heat it.
The energy system then divides the energy produced by the amount needed to boil the water, and the result is the energy returned.
The more efficient a system is, the less energy it consumes.
So, if we’re looking at efficiency, we should be looking at a system that is using less energy to produce the same output.
“So you need to be thinking about a system where the energy you’re putting into the system doesn’t consume as much of the resources you need,” Shuster explained.
“And if the system has that kind of efficiency, you’ll have an overall reduction in the amount you have to use, and you’ll also be saving on environmental impact.”
Shuster added that the number one energy-saving technology for the modern world is electric cars.
“That’s the best-known energy-efficient car,” he said.
And it’s not just electric cars that will save the planet.
“There’s so much more you can do to get energy efficiency to the next level,” he explained.
One of the best ways to do this is by reducing your use of heating and cooling systems.
In other words, you’re not just using the power grid, you also need to make use of your own home.
Shuster’s research team found that a lot of people are spending a lot more energy than they need in their homes.