James Fallows, a columnist at The Atlantic has this excellent analysis of a recent report by
American Physical Society. It’s a rare bit of good news on the environment, and it says a number of things of note:
First, that lower energy use can happen; California’s energy consumption has stayed about flat for the past thirty years through “an ambitious program of appliance standards and other innovations in building design….” (Fallows).
Second, people are changing their habits, albeit slowly. One of the studies looked at the number of miles people drive every year. The figure rose steadily from 1998-2007, while 2008 was the first year they started to fall. In percentage terms, it’s wasn’t grand – 2.8 percent – but that’s 2.8 percent of 3 trillion miles, so 84 million miles.
Third, cars have gotten far more efficient in the past twenty years. The reason they haven’t gotten better mileage is that they’ve also gotten heavier too.
I could go on, but it’s worth checking it out for yourself. If you don’t have time to look through the whole thing, pages 19-21 are the most interesting.