Those of us living in the United States can easily get wrapped up in the domestic energy picture, but it is important to stop and take a look at how renewables are doing in other countries too.
If you peruse a list of countries by 2008 emissions, the top emitter of carbon dioxide is currently China, followed closely by the U.S. China accounts for 23.5% of world emissions, and the U.S. is responsible for 18.27%. However, the good news is that China’s renewable-energy industry is currently on the upswing due to supportive government policies and generous subsidies; so much so that they’ve achieved the height of the world’s wind and solar industries. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Everything is made in China.” The U.S. does import many goods from China, but a report released this week titled, “Advantage America” analyzed trade between the two countries in solar, wind and smart-grid technology and services in 2011.
The analysis, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Pew Charitable Trusts, showed $6.5 billion in renewable energy technology and services traded between the U.S. and China. But the U.S. sold $1.63 billion more to China than it imported.
It’s good to see both countries making such strides in renewable energy. Oftentimes, the countries are perceived as being in competition with one another, but a more accurate picture would be that they are interdependent. The bottom line is that both countries should be doing as much as possible to focus on renewables, especially considering they’re the top two carbon dioxide emitters on the planet. And the global interest and investments in renewables doesn’t stop there.
Saudi Arabia, a country with the world's second largest oil reserves, is beginning a green revolution. This week, Saudi King Abdullah revealed ambitious plans to develop renewable energy programs that will produce 54,000 megawatts of electricity by 2032 as part of a strategy to save 1.2 million barrels of their oil per day for export.
King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care) is a strategy paper set up by King Abdullah in 2010 to develop alternative energy sources so the country won't have to burn millions of barrels of oil a year on power generation. KA-Care outlines the preliminary phases of the kingdom's agenda for its energy future and focuses on thermal solar, photo-voltaic solar, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy. Much of the desert landscape in the Persian Gulf is well suited to solar energy production; a fact that has not escaped the Saudi’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UAE, with 8% of the world's proven oil reserves, has also embarked on a major renewables program, which focuses on nuclear and solar energy production. By taking a look at the global energy picture, we see that even those countries with vast fossil fuel resources recognize the finite limitations of their reserves and the importance of investing in sustainable energy projects, which is great news in the fight against climate change. Every country on the planet contributes to global warming, and every country will have to do their part in order to pave the way to a sustainable energy future.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 that estimates 150,000 additional American deaths in the country’s top 40 cities by 2100 due to the excessive heat caused by climate change.
The top three deadliest cities outlined in the analysis of peer-reviewed data include Louisville, Detroit, and Cleveland. Some other cities projected to have thousands of heat related deaths by the end of the century are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
Why cities? Because that is where two-thirds of the U.S. population lives, and many municipal services there are not prepared to help people effectively beat the heat. Urban areas have high concentrations of poor with little to no access to air conditioning. Although everyone is at risk, children, the elderly, the obese, and those on medication are the most vulnerable.
We’re already seeing how global warming can kill with hundreds of heat related deaths annually. Extreme heat causes heat exhaustion and heat stroke and worsens illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. In 2006, a two-week long heat wave in California caused 655 deaths, 1,620 excess hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 additional emergency room visits, resulting in nearly $5.4 billion in costs. However, Chicago had an even deadlier record-setting heat wave in 1995 when more than 700 people died due to the excessive heat.
Some cities are learning from their experiences or heeding the warnings, and strengthening their municipal services. Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle have already put measures in place to lessen the risk from excessive heat days. Measures include improving the city’s heat warning system, emergency services, and establishing cooling centers.
There is hope; we can save lives by reducing emissions and improving emergency services. Some examples of climate change mitigation are supporting reforestation projects and using more renewable energy such as wind energy.
Read the report and get more information at http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/killer-heat/.
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