Can Growth in Sustainable Energy Reduce Natural Resources Overspend?

Can Growth in Sustainable Energy Reduce Natural Resources Overspend?

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Globally, we’re consuming assets quicker than the Earth can replenish them. If we consider these assets — similar to timber, water, and clear air — like an allowance, then we spent our allotment for 2021 on July 30, and we’re anticipated to overshoot this yr (2022) on July 28. We are over-fishing, extracting, mining, polluting, depleting, and harvesting assets throughout the globe.

We attain Earth Overshoot Day — the day when humanity’s consumption of the Earth’s assets exceeds what the planet can regenerate in that yr — earlier and earlier annually. This implies that we’re consuming extra assets than ever earlier than — and at an increasing rate. For instance, in 1980, Earth Overshoot Day occurred in November however by 2000, we had already overshot our assets by September.

“It’s a pyramid scheme,” mentioned Mathis Wackernagel, CEO and founding father of Global Footprint Network. “It will depend on utilizing increasingly more from the long run to pay for the current.”

Another daunting thought is that a lot of the world’s inhabitants consumes far fewer assets than folks in developed nations. For instance, one particular person within the United States will consume as many resources as 35 folks in India. We would want 5 Earths to maintain us if the entire world lived like Americans. For comparability, we would want 3 Earths if all of us lived like Germans, or 2.2 Earths if all of us lived like Chinese. If the entire world lived like Indians, we would want 0.7 Earths to maintain us — in different phrases, we wouldn’t devour assets quicker than our planet can replenish them.

Per capita carbon emissions within the U.S. are practically double that of different rich nations, and roughly twice as many Americans are obese as our European counterparts. In different phrases, most Americans might reside a really comfy life however devour far fewer assets.

What could be accomplished to reverse this development? It will take a political and cultural shift. Thankfully, there are various actions that we will all take to maneuver in the correct path.

Calculate Your Ecological Footprint

A good way to get began is to calculate your personal ecological footprint. This might help pinpoint areas for enchancment. Some of the best methods to cut back your affect are to make use of renewable energy, scale back general energy consumption, eat fewer animal products, purchase less new stuff, reside in a smaller home, drive less, and waste less food.

Celebrate Clean Energy Production Gains

U.S. power generation from renewables (that’s, biomass, wind, geothermal, photo voltaic, and hydropower) surpassed coal in April 2019, based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Wind and hydropower comprise the lion’s share of renewable vitality manufacturing, however photo voltaic vitality manufacturing is growing. Renewables now comprise 23% of U.S. energy technology in comparison with 20% from coal. This development is useful for lowering carbon emissions and useful resource consumption.

Power manufacturing from coal has decreased from its peak a decade in the past, and one other 4.1 gigawatts of capability is anticipated to be retired this yr. Meanwhile, a lot of the expansion in renewable vitality is attributed to progress in wind and photo voltaic vitality capability. In 2018, 15 gigawatts of capability got here on-line. To put this large quantity in context, 1 gigawatt of power is the same as the vitality manufacturing from 3.125 million photovoltaic (PV) panels or 412 utility-scale wind generators. It is sufficient vitality to energy 110 million LED lights.

This occurred for a wide range of causes. The value of renewable vitality is reducing and folks and firms have been demanding cleaner energy.

Determine Your Electricity Mix

There are many easy actions we will take to chop our private ecological footprints that may make a giant distinction collectively.

An amazing place to start out is by inspecting the place your energy comes from and discovering greener sources of vitality. The energy combine varies largely by subregions of the nation. Some areas use extra wind and hydropower, whereas some areas nonetheless use plenty of coal — and this has a huge impact on our ecological footprint. The Environmental Protection Agency provides this information by subregions.

If your space makes use of extra fossil fuels for energy technology, then you’ll generate extra emissions when consuming electrical energy. Look into the right way to offset your dirty-energy emissions.

Switch to Clean Power

Many utility firms provide non-compulsory applications to supply extra renewable vitality. This is a good way to assist clear vitality with out putting in photo voltaic panels. CleanChoice Energy has a web site to seek out out extra about applications provided in your space.

Consider Going Solar

Installing photo voltaic panels in your roof is a good way to go inexperienced. In many states, householders can save money by going solar relatively than buying energy from the native utility firm. As utility charges enhance, going photo voltaic turns into extra profitable. Installing a photo voltaic system can even increase your property value.

Visit the EnergySage website totally free photo voltaic quotes from native photo voltaic vitality contractors.

Join a Community Solar Project

Unfortunately, many properties aren’t perfect for photo voltaic panels. Renters, apartment dwellers, low-income households, and folks with shaded roofs may not be good candidates for photo voltaic. In some circumstances, community solar farms or solar gardens are a terrific possibility.

Solar gardens are photo voltaic vitality vegetation which can be owned by a neighborhood of individuals or a 3rd occasion. These tasks enable a gaggle of individuals to make use of the solar energy that’s generated close by with out having photo voltaic panels on their property. In many circumstances, the vitality from neighborhood photo voltaic farms prices lower than what folks in any other case pay the native utility firm. It usually works like a subscription the place you pay extra to the photo voltaic farm however have a decrease electrical invoice.

The prevalence of neighborhood photo voltaic farms varies loads by state as a result of some states have insurance policies that make it troublesome to develop such tasks.

Launch a Clean Energy Campaign

If your utility firm generates plenty of energy from fossil fuels, think about launching a marketing campaign to get your utility to make use of extra clear energy. is a superb platform to make the most of to achieve momentum behind this venture. You can even urge your state politicians to create stringent renewable portfolio standards. These state-wide rules fluctuate tremendously by state and require utilities to extend their use of renewable energy sources. If you reside in an space with a weak commonplace, think about launching a marketing campaign for stronger requirements.

When will Earth Overshoot Day happen subsequent yr? Ultimately, it will depend on our collective actions. Let’s get began to cut back our affect in 2023.

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Originally printed on September 30, 2019, this text was up to date in July 2022.