Saturday, February 21, 2009

American Environmentalism

It has been pretty clear to me for some time that America is not as far behind Europe in environmental issues as most people seem to think. For example: we produce more electricity from Geothermal, Wind, and Nuclear power than any other country; our experiences with the dust bowl have resulted in us taking soil conservation far more seriously than much of the world; we have developed some of the most effective pollution control systems such as the sulfur trading credits. A newsweek article I just ran into makes this point pretty effectively:

California, with its 37 million people, emits 20 percent less CO2 per dollar of GDP than Germany. It generates 24 percent of its electrical power from renewable fuels like wind and solar, compared with only 15 percent in Germany and 11 percent in Japan. It also has the world's largest solar-power plant (550 megawatts in the Mojave Desert), the largest wind farm (7,000 turbines at Altamont Pass) and the most powerful geothermal installation (750 megawatts at The Geysers north of San Francisco). Although California isn't immune to the economic crisis—its finances are on the brink of collapse, which could translate into growing support for those who argue that green measures cost jobs—its green accomplishments put it at the head of the pack. If California were a country, its economy would rank as the world's 10th largest and could lay claim to be one of the world's greenest.

It seems to me that our main issue is we just use too much oil and coal. We certainly do more of that than Europe does. Once we get that under control we aren't doing so bad though.

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