U.S. Energy Use
Using oil is un-American…here’s a plot of our energy sources over the last two centuries, from the Department of Energy.
Many things to see here. First, the dashed line shows domestic petroleum extraction, which peaked in the 1970s. (A quadrillion is 10^15, or a million billion.) Where should we drill, baby? It’s mostly gone into the air.
Second, the dark black line shows oil imports, the leading supplier being Canada. Reliance on oil and gas is reliance on other countries.
Third, and this one scares me, is the tan line showing coal use, our second most important energy source. We have about 300 years worth of coal in the U.S., and reliance on this energy means centuries more of carbon emissions. “Plug-in cars” mean “coal-fired cars”, and I think that’s a bad, bad idea.
Fourth, the bottom three lines (which don’t even rise above the tick mark at 2000) show three renewable energy sources. We have a long way to go to make those important energy contributions, and that’s why Pres. Obama’s on the right track: Invest in the future that we have to make happen.
This next graph shows how our per capita energy consumption increased over the last 1.5 centuries, along with our (U.S.) population.
Over the last century, our population tripled, and so did our per capita energy use. The data come from the Department of Energy and the Census Bureau. We use a lot of energy.
Here’s a more detailed picture of energy sources and consumption (in units of quadrillion BTUs) from the Annual Energy Review 2006 (the most recent can be downloaded www.eia.doe.gov/aer):
My opinion is that petroleum fuels will soon become very expensive, regardless of any cap-and-trade carbon emissions limit that comes along, but we have to be very concerned about a reliance on coal. Our climate can’t handle plug-in, coal-fired cars.