A World Gone Green
Taking the first step is easy, start simple with recycling. Photo Credit: gavinandrewstewart
To say that the world has “gone” green may be a bit hyperbolic, but we’re certainly well on our way. When politics, lobbyists and fossil-fueled capitalism jump in the way of environmental reform, miring efforts such as climate change legislation in thousands of pages of dubious language, it’s easy for green enthusiasts to get disheartened. Anger may well up, with the feeling of moving backwards at a personal high.
Just remember that the future is heading down a green-bricked road, and there are statistics to prove it.
- According to the EPA, container and packaging recycling increased 40 percent by 2005, compared to 2003.
- 62 percent of yard waste was composted.
- 50 percent (42 million tons) of all paper products were recycled.
- From 1990 to 2005, the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) heading to landfills decreased by 9 million tons and continues to fall every year.
Now on to energy production…
- In 1998, the number of solar panels made in or shipped to the U.S.A. was roughly 15,000. By 2008, that number had increased to 280 million.
- Worldwide solar electric installations more than doubled in just one year (2007-2008).
- Ignoring President Obama’s more lofty goals, the Energy Information Administration predicts that renewable electricity will account for nearly 16 percent of total U.S. demand by 2030.
- Global wind power capacity reached over 47 Gigawatts by 2004, and enjoys a growth rate exceeding 30 percent annually.
- The use of geothermal heat pumps more than doubled in less than ten years.
And in Green Building...
- LEED-certified buildings now account for six percent of new commercial construction.
- Additionally, nearly 40 percent of new construction projects in 2008 applied for LEED certification.
- LEED buildings have nullified almost 400 million vehicle miles traveled and saved enough water in 2008 alone to fill enough 32-ounce bottles to circle the Earth 300 times.
Simply witnessing the power and advancement of green practices in just one year is enough to awe anyone. And any skeptic says that such numbers represent only a passing fad should take note that renewable energy and green building techniques are merely readopting and upgrading practices that have been used by humans for millennia. Solar water heaters, thermal mass, wind power, passive solar design - these forces were harnessed long before machines and the invention of the photovoltaic panel in the 1950s.
This is no fad. It is a movement. And yes, these statistics will level off… as soon as we have our lean, clean, green energy economy.
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