Global warming is happening now and its effects are being felt in the United States and around the world. Among the expected consequences of global warming is an increase in the heaviest rain and snow storms, fueled by increased evaporation and the ability of a warmer atmosphere to hold more moisture.
America’s reliance on gasoline-powered vehicles has long contributed to air pollution, including global warming emissions, and our nation’s dependence on oil. In the past decade, however, the automobile market has begun to change, integrating new technologies that are dramatically less dependent on gasoline. Now, fully electric vehicles, with zero direct emissions, are emerging as a market-viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
As summer approaches, the dangers of our continued dependence on oil are apparent everywhere we look. Our oil dependence risks our environment to disasters like oil spills, endangers our climate with the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution from oil consumption each year, and threatens our families’ health. If our cars and trucks today met the proposed 54.5 mpg standard, Pennsylvanians would cut gasoline consumption by 603 million gallons over the course of this summer, slashing global warming pollution by more than 5.3 million metric tons and saving consumers over $2.3 billion at the gas pump.
We can save money and help solve global warming by reducing the amount of energy we use, including in the buildings where we live and work every day. More than 40 percent of our energy — and 10 percent of all the energy used in the world — goes toward powering America’s buildings. But today’s high-efficiency homes and buildings prove that we have the technology and skills to drastically improve the efficiency of our buildings while simultaneously improving their comfort and affordability.
With over 38 million people driving to visit family and friends on trips of at least 50 miles, Americans are expected to spend $552 million at the gas pump this Thanksgiving holiday. However, if the average passenger vehicle met a 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) standard instead of the current 26.4 mpg standard, Americans would save $260 million at the gas pump on Thanksgiving travel this year and cut gasoline consumption by 75 million gallons.
By taking strong action to cut down on energy waste and shift to cleaner sources of energy, America could reduce its consumption of oil for energy by 1.9 billion barrels of oil per year by 2030—31 percent of today’s oil use— while achieving President Obama’s goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting the nation on track to ending its dependence on oil.
Solar water heating has the potential to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and curb pollution that causes global warming and respiratory problems. By taking advantage of America’s full potential to produce hot water for homes and businesses from solar energy, the nation could reduce natural gas consumption by 2.5 percent and electricity use by nearly one percent, while avoiding 52 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution per year – equivalent to emissions from 13 coal-fired power plants or 9.9 million cars.