We talked earlier about the potential of solar–with 70 million single family homes in this country, that’s a lot of roof space. Of course, there are a lot of homes in regions that are not best fits for solar, but the idea of 70 million rooftops is enough to spark our interest.
Remember that our interest is sparked by potential ways of reducing emissions without much in the way of government investment. This is based on the idea that the current administration is not committed to a Green New Deal, and it’s not guaranteed that the next one will be either.
We have written posts that were shorter than the title of this one. Sorry.
We talked about America’s energy consumption in this earlier post. The U.S. currently consumes about 100 quadrillion British Thermal Units a year. This is not expected to change much over the next few decades. Which is easy for calculations, being one hundred. Of that 100 ‘quads,’ at the moment about 11% is renewable (but this includes hydro-electric power) and a further 9% is nuclear. The rest of our fuel portfolio consists of oil (37% of the total), natural gas (29%) and coal (14%).
It’s a lot of energy–about 15% of all the world’s energy consumption happens here.
Of our current renewable energy, a quarter of it is provided by hydroelectric facilities (25%), 21% by wind, 6% by solar and a whopping 45% by the various types of biomass–waste, biofuels and burning wood.
It’s a tall order–hence the use of the word ‘gulp’ in the title of this post.
20% of all US energy consumption happens at home. While we will need laws and politics (and lots of both) to deal with the other 80%, we as individual can make a real difference. And really, nobody is going to take care of that 20% for us. If it’s going to get done, we’re going to have to do it.
The idyllic solution of course would be solar panels on every roof with a tracking mount to follow the sun, feeding not only the immediate electricity needs of the house below it, but charging the standalone battery that will be used to recharge the electric car when it gets home. And there are a lot of homes that could do this. But not enough, sadly.
One of the goals of the Green New Deal is to provide clean air to all Americans.
Here is a picture of what air quality in America looks like on April 27, 2019:
Green is good, yellow bad, red worse and purple just horrible. The picture changes from day to day, of course, but it’s clear that most Americans do enjoy clean air on most days of the year. But as with water pollution (and almost everything else that is bad in our land), air pollution is tougher on the poor and minorities. Not only are they exposed to more of it, they have fewer resources to deal with it.
Let’s talk about time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote a special report on what will happen if global average temperature rises above 1.5C. They say that if we don’t get to zero emissions by 2050… well let’s let them say it and let’s start with the good-ish news:
In a nod to the environmental movement of the 70s, the Green New Deal has as a goal the delivery of clean water and air, healthy and affordable food and what I presume to mean access to nature.
Again, due to the length of the posts, we will have to deal with these one at a time. Today we’ll talk about clean water.
The Environmental Protection Agency is budgeted at about $8.9 billion a year at present. About 52% of that goes to improving water quality. About half that amount (45%) is in the form of grants to cities and states for specific projects. It could be more.