Oil, Energy and Consumption

After finally getting it through my thick skull that my husband would keep the job he liked in the oil industry, and maybe that would even be okay, I started paying more attention to it. I have learned facts that surprise me about energy, including information about how we collect it, create it, produce it, use it and waste it.

Information like this might not surprise others, but to be totally honest, I have just never thought much about energy until my personal life became linked more closely to it in the last few years. Exhibit A was the look of surprise and disgust my husband gave me when, in a fit of frustration over a nest of tangled cords, I lamented the fact that electricity couldn't be wireless. Anyway, here are some basics:

  • The ratio of fossil fuel inputs per unit of food energy produced averages 3:1 for all U.S. agricultural products combined, but runs as high as 35:1 for beef produced in feedlots (including processing and distribution). [Putting Meat on the Table, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Pew Charitable Trusts, 2008]

  • Global greenhouse gas emissions from all livestock operations account for 18% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions, a percentage which is higher than what is produced by the transportation sector. Agriculture accounts for 7.4% of greenhouse gases released in the United States. [Putting Meat on the Table, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Pew Charitable Trusts, 2008]

  • Coal-fired power plants account for a third of all electricity worldwide. Coal is cheap, and plentiful. But filthy. [Green, Hoffman and Hoffman, 2008]

  • While the United States has the highest consumption of barrels of oil as a country, they do not have the highest consumption per capita. [NationMaster.com]

  • More than 5% of the U.S. domestic crude oil output in 2010,113 million barrels, was produced in North Dakota [The New Yorker, April 25, 2011]

  • The top ten net exporters of oil for 2008 were: Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran, Uniter Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Angola, Norway, Kuwait, Iraq, Venezuela (International Energy Agency, most recent stats available)

  • Canada is a producer and a net exporter of electricity. The United States is a producer and a net importer of electricity. (International Energy Agency)

  • China's share of global CO2 emissions has quadrupled since 1973 (from over 5% to over 20%), while the North American share of CO2 emissions has dropped by a third, from over 65% to 43%). During that same period of time, global CO2 emissions nearly doubled.

Who has more? Email sloane@mrsroseglasses.com, with facts and the cited sources.