Society faces an endless pattern where electricity use results in the progression of climate change. Breaking the cycle is never easy, especially when the impact of energy usage on climate change is high. The worst-case scenario is a world without power and humans struggling to get through each day.
The Impact of Energy Usage on Climate Change
Climate change is an emergency caused by various factors. Cutting down forests and farming significant numbers of livestock are significant contributors, but there’s also the matter of society’s energy use. While plugging in phones and flicking the lights on may seem inconsequential, it can contribute greatly to overall electricity usage.
High power demand is met with increasing production. Unfortunately, burning fossil fuels and running big power plants has created a high amount of greenhouse gases. These emissions have resulted in the Arctic warming twice as fast as the global average, and the ocean becoming more acidic and dangerous to marine and human life.
Energy emissions don’t show any sign of stopping. Worldwide CO2 emissions are at 34 billion tons per year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration revealed the nation’s electricity sector produced 1,542 million CO2 emissions, accounting for 31% of the U.S. power-related emissions in 2022.
How Climate Change Returns the Favor
Climate change is only set to worsen from here. The aftereffects are already endangering different parts of people’s lives and its projected impact on the world’s energy use will only create even more distress.
1. Smaller Land Use
Climate change is fast-tracking land degradation and garbage is collating in landfills. These areas are worse for humans and nature since they are concentrated areas of waste producing harmful gases. Aside from being an environmental and health hazard, it can also eat up acres of land.
Landfills can vary in shapes and sizes, but the average is around 600 acres. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are more than 2,600 municipal solid waste landfills all over the country. That’s plenty of space that’s rendered unusable.
A lack of land can be quite a problem in the energy production landscape. Traditional sources need the space for mining and power plant operations. Renewable power equipment like solar panels use less land per unit of energy but still need space for material production.
2. Electricity Disruptions
Climate change brings forth a variety of natural disasters, from typhoons to rainstorms and more. These occurrences can damage electricity hubs, which can cause disruptions in production and distribution.
If these disasters occur more frequently and severely, facilities may go days or weeks without power, which can throw life into chaos. Imagine having a medical emergency and being unable to receive care because of a prolonged power outage.
3. Rising Demand
Even without a natural disaster, power failures may still occur as a result of increased demand. Climate change makes the weather more extreme and unpredictable. Amid hotter temperatures, humans turn the air conditioning up and during colder winters, they crank up the heaters.
Unfortunately, high demand can put a great weight on energy systems. When the system is overloaded, blackouts can occur even without a natural disaster even happening. There’s also the matter of increasing the prices of these commodities.
4. Exhausting Supplies
Since climate change is inadvertently driving up energy use, there’s a high chance society will burn through its supplies faster. Traditional energy comes from fossil fuels like coal and oil, which take time to source and are nonrenewable. Unfortunately, it’s responsible for 80% of the world’s energy supply.
While fossil fuels are abundant, they are not forever. The world is expected to run out of oil in around 57 years, while the coal supply can last about 139 years. A higher demand may use up these sources earlier than sooner.
Responsible Power and Energy Management
Climate change is impacting the world’s electricity use and supply bit by bit, which is undoubtedly bad news. However, the good news is there’s still some time to turn things around. Practicing proper power management can help minimize climate change.
1. Save Energy Where Possible
The impact of energy usage on climate change is significant. To break the cycle, seek opportunities to use less, like switching to more energy-efficient alternatives. LED lights utilize 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, so opt for them instead. It’s also key to make a habit of unplugging devices and appliances when they aren’t in use.
Saving power can also go beyond residential use. For example, try to be conscious of private transportation — when heading out to work, see if public transit is viable. Taking these steps can minimize your carbon footprint.
2. Support Clean Energy Solutions
Renewable electricity from solar, wind and geothermal energy are posed as great solutions since they’re essentially limitless with little to no emissions. Join the movement for these clean energy solutions. In a survey, about 66% of US adults believe the federal government should encourage wind and solar power production. Contribute to the demand by inquiring about these renewable sources and installing them.
3. Spread the Word on Proper Power Use
Some people don’t see climate change as an emergency. In the previous survey, some adults believed the government should discourage wind and solar power production, while others were neutral about it. However, it’s imperative to act and persuade now.
Each person should try reaching out to their network to share tips on energy use and management. Raising awareness regarding climate change is also crucial, as a collective effort is necessary to incite transitions.
Reduce the Impact of Energy Usage on Climate Change
Recognizing the cycle the world goes through is the first step — the next is to realize the impact of people’s energy usage on climate change and manage it properly. Avoid contributing to emissions to avoid a world without power.