Every year, Americans are inundated with new fad diets and weight-loss programs that can supposedly help shed 20 pounds or more in just a week. These programs are pushed by fly-by-night gurus and hucksters who understand that people are often motivated by instant results that rarely endure, not by the work it takes to achieve lasting success.
As any credible health professional will tell you, the only way to realize and sustain healthy weight loss over the long-term is with discipline, a balanced diet, and a consistent regiment of exercise.
So what does this have to do with energy and climate? Because the same forces may be underway in the U.S. energy sector.
The graph below represents America’s “carbon weight” — otherwise known as carbon emissions from the energy sector. And it shows an improvement. Q1 Carbon emissions from the energy sector are at the lowest level they’ve ever been for the last 20 years. Seen from a narrow weight loss perspective, that’s a really good thing.
So bravo, America. You’ve made great progress since you last went to the doctor’s office — an 8 percent decrease in carbon poundage! But to holistically assess the nature of your progress, we need to take a little survey.
What have you been consuming since we last saw you?
Hmm. You do realize that’s considered the “crack cocaine” of the utility industry, right? And while natural gas is certainly “cleaner” for your system when burned compared to coal, it’s still a fossil fuel that contributes excess carbon poundage. Scientists and public health officials are also still trying to determine all the other consequences — things like water contamination and methane leakages — that may harm your health in other ways.
At least you’re consuming less coal. In fact, you’ve reduced your consumption of coal by almost 20 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011 — a stunning decrease. Your carbon emissions from coal dropped 18 percent through March. You’ve also dramatically increased your share of healthy efficiency and renewable energy compared to your previous energy diet — but it’s still not nearly enough.
And how have you been feeling?
I see your temperature continues to rise. You had the hottest 12 month period on record, the hottest half year on record in 2012, the hottest July ever, and you’ve already broken or set more than 27,000 high temperature records so far this year — more than all of 2011.