Myths of Energy – Is the United States Lagging Behind Other Countries in Going Green?

Written by:

David Feldman

You’ll often hear people say the U.S. is doing a terrible job of “going green”.  Critics will cite statistics on how much better everyone else is at going green, and how the U.S. is so far behind.  The problem is… it seems everyone has an agenda and only present a one-sided argument, leaving out everything they don’t want to accept or believe.  Today, the question is this:  Regardless of what political side you fall on, is the U.S. really doing a terrible job at going green?

Let’s investigate and see if we can bust this myth.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Over the last thirty years the U.S. has improved its energy efficiency as much as, if not more than most other developed countries.  The average U.S. (per capita) energy consumption in the U.S. dropped by 2.5% from 1980 through 2006.  When we compare that with other countries in the same timeframe, only Switzerland and Denmark top the United States.  And the U.S. even did that without participating in the Kyoto Protocol or creating an emissions trading system like they’re doing in Europe.  A further look at EIA data also shows the United States has been one of the best countries at reducing carbon dioxide emitted per $1 of GDP and the amount of energy consumed per $1 of GDP.

Conversely, the United States doesn’t even crack the top ten “recycling countries” around the world, and that means we’re filling up our landfills much faster than others.  So, when busting this myth, it looks like it’s a matter of whether you see the glass half-full or half-empty.  Is there need for improvement?  Yes.  But to say America isn’t keeping up is stretching the truth a bit.

As the U.S. moves toward a more service-based economy and manufacturing/heavy industrial areas decrease, we will naturally see a decrease in energy consumption and pollution.  Things like Computer chips in everything from cars to appliances make us more efficient.  Programable thermostats in everyone’s homes are making us use less energy.  Electric automobiles are gaining in popularity.  Everything is contributing to the U.S. and world goal of “going green”, and even though it’s slower than some would like, it’s still happening, and the U.S. is doing its part to help.

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