Our thirst for energy is one of the most significant factors in anthropogenic GHG emissions, because it releases carbon that’s been sequestered beneath the Earth’s surface for hundreds of millions of years. Taken together, these fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—contain gigatons of carbon, and burning these fuels for heating, electricity, and transportation puts all that carbon back into the carbon cycle.
Climate is something that affects us all, and because of global warming, we are faced with a climate crisis. We are experiencing increasing occurrences of extreme weather, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are increasing at a rate that is likely to cause catastrophic changes in the future. We can mitigate the effects by reducing the use of fossil fuels—by reducing waste, relocalizing production, reducing the number of unnecessary vehicle trips, converting to more-efficient transportation, and converting to organic farming.
Our current energy system wastes about half the energy contained in the fuel, and much of our usage is also wasteful. Conservation and improvements in energy efficiency can greatly reduce total power demand (Rocky Mountain Institute refers to this as ‘negawatts’), but there are other energy sources that do not cause global warming.