Positive Improvements on the Planet
Global Efforts to Go Green
Today, as we look around the world, we do see there are clear signs that the 'green' march is quickening in pace, a development that only befits the arrival of the Golden Age. We see leaderships emerge from the private sectors, government and non-government organizations, as well as individual citizens, implementing initiatives towards achieving environmental sustainability.
Climate scientists have presented compelling evidence that global warming is real. Global warming is responsible for the intense hurricane activity, melting of polar ice and has caused drastic changes to our weather patterns resulting in extreme droughts, floods, and heat waves all over the world. To turn the crisis around, a global concerted effort is necessary in reducing carbon emissions. To this end, increasing energy efficiency is one of the most easily implemented measures to take.
The good news is that there exist many proven and inexpensive ways to save energy. In its January 29, Golden Year 4 (2007) issue, Newsweek magazine outlined seven ways that could have the biggest positive impact on saving the world from global warming through energy efficiency:
Space heating and cooling make up 36% of the world's total energy consumption. As shown by prototype 'zero-energy' homes in Switzerland and Germany, the use of state-of-the-art insulation materials can scale down or even eliminate heating and air-conditioning equipment; the amount of savings can be tremendous.
Lighting uses up to 20% of the world's electricity, 40% of which is used to power incandescent light bulbs, which waste most of the energy it consumes on unwanted heat. Compared to the incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps not only use 75 to 80% less electricity to generate the same amount of light, they also last 10 times longer.
Merely a fraction of the energy pumped into water boilers, space heaters, air conditioners and other existing heating and cooling systems is actually used to change the temperature. A more efficient alternative solution is the use of a heat pump, which can remove and use ambient heat from the air outside or the ground below to heat a building or its water supply. The system can be reversed to cool buildings as well.
Industrial factories around the world use up about a third of the world's energy. The opportunities for energy savings are tremendous. For instance, Japanese steelmakers such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have been pioneers since the 1980s, cutting energy use by more than 70% by using heat from steel furnaces to run turbines that generate electricity.
25% of the world's energy-including two thirds of the annual production of oil-is used for transportation. One can improve fuel efficiency by 6% simply by keeping car tires properly inflated. Gasoline-electric hybrid cars can improve mileage by a further 20% over conventional models. Clean and powerful modern direct-injection diesels technology can also achieve up to 40% better mileage compared to gasoline-powered cars.
More than half of all residential power goes into running household appliances, producing 20% of the world's carbon emissions. Manufacturers have increased the efficiency of refrigerators and other home appliances by as much as 70% since the 1980s, but there is still room for improvement. By adopting energy saving appliances, households can save the most money over the life of the appliances, and cut global residential power consumption by 43%.
Energy services and utility companies can pay for energy-saving retrofitting cost in return for a share of the client's utility-bill savings. In a novel approach, California utilities are giving consumers extra rebates for cutting power use by 10% or more. This way, the utilities benefit by lowering peak electricity demand, avoiding the need to build additional billion-dollar power plants.