This past weekend Go Green Derry hosted a movie screening of 350.org’s “Do the Math”. 350.org makes the following argument…
Since the beginning of human civilization, our atmosphere contained about 275 ppm of carbon dioxide. That is the planet “on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal, gas, and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating our homes rely on energy sources that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, once stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere.
Right now we’re at 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Unless we are able to rapidly turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that could send climate change spinning truly beyond our control. Read the full article.
350.org is an advocacy group that promotes divestment from large oil companies and grass roots protests of oil projects like the Keystone Pipeline. We feel that 350.org is doing important work but wanted to take a broader look at energy consumption and infrastructure in the United States as a way to inform how Renewable Energy could grow in capacity.
Looking at the Bigger Picture
After seeing the documentary we discussed energy use in the United States and Judy Follo, Assoc. Professor of Environmental Sciences at Johnson County Community College; shared the following chart. Download the PDF
As you can see Petroleum is the largest source by percentage of energy consumption and it is primarily used in the Transportation sector, where as Nuclear Power (especially in NH), followed by Coal primarily serves Electricity needs. To get a better idea as to how we might move more toward increasing Renewable Energy, NPR has a great online tool; Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid. The US Energy Information Administration is also a great resource if you are looking for data on this subject.
There are big ways and small ways that we can all work toward slowing climate change and the better informed you are the better you will be at making good decisions for yourselves and for our world. If you are interested in seeing the documentary “Do the Math” you can find it at the Derry Public Library.