This is a really exciting time to be alive.
In the two years since 2007, for the first time in over a century, carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. dropped, a startling 9 percent. As a nation we're replacing coal with natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar while cutting down on wasted energy.
The use of oil dropped 5 percent in 2008 and is estimated to fall another 5 percent in 2009.
2009 has not been a great year for coal — the U.S. Department of Energy has projected that its use will fall 10 percent this year. That's a huge drop for an industry used to steady, fantastically profitable growth.
2010 should be also be a brutal year for fossil fuels as more homes, businesses, municipalities and governments tighten up their efficiency, picking the low-hanging fruit like installing more efficient lighting. Los Angeles will save $10 million per year by replacing 140,000 street lights with LED bulbs. In these days of massive budget crunches, savings like that become more and more attractive to both city councils and corporate boards.
There aren't many places these days that you can put your money into and make it all back in three to seven years like you can with certain energy-efficiency upgrades. Efficiency upgrades makes economic sense, this will speed up the rate that greener choices are adopted by the business world. When corporations like Walmart save millions of dollars through environmental and efficiency initiatives, you can bet the rest of the business world will follow their lead.
Lester Brown has an article over at Grist
that lays out all the numbers and details, but the overall takeaway is that things are looking halfway decent. Sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed by the number of problems hammering away at our environment. News like this makes me feel like it's worth keeping up the good fight. We're winning.