Exxon,by virtue of its operational sector, is usually a lightning rod for controversy. Whether it is due to the fact that its products contribute to global warming, or because everyone who works for the company is perceived to be like the individual in the cartoon below.


Only $4.09 a gallon?

The result is that the company seemingly is always under attack. Perennially however, Exxon seems to do one thing right: forecasting energy trends. And by all accounts, the company sees North America as becoming a net energy exporter by 2025.

Exxon’s glowing predictions for the continent stem from North America becoming less reliant on coal-based power plants, and instead, depending more on energy efficient natural-gas-fired plants. Overall, the oil giant sees coal use dropping 33% from 2010 to 2025, a substantially larger increase than its previous 23% estimate.

In addition, because North America, and particularly the United States, contains an abundance of natural gas reserves, and is working to perfect the hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques needed to unlock them, the continent has become energy rich in the clean burning fuel of the future. As a result, North America will become the go-to source to feed the growing energy demands of industrialized nations. In fact, Exxon’s report states that, “Global energy demand will increase 35% from 2010 to 2040, with most of the increased demand coming from developing nations like India and China.” By setting the initiative of becoming a global superpower in clean energy technologies, North America has positioned itself well to become less reliant on foreign oil, while at the same positioning itself as a provider of clean energy for other nations.

Remarkably enough, “By 2040 developed nations like the US and Canada are expected to generate 80% more economic output than in 2010 but use the same amount of energy.” This speaks to North America’s attempt to be on the cutting edge of this breakthrough technology and to the unmistakable way in which innovation can change a nation from a net importer to net exporter. (I’m looking at you United States) As clean energy becomes more and more of a priority with each passing day, it is refreshing to see how the green movement has changed political decision making. Let’s continue to make sustainability a priority both at home and abroad so that we can all live green, and be green.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324339204578171583862191830.html?KEYWORDS=energy+exports

The recent ad launched by opponents of the fossil fuel industry declaring “Exxon Hates Your Children” is disturbing, provocative and unsettling.  Two advocacy groups, Oil Change International and The Other 98%, launched the controversial ad on its website on Wednesday in an effort to cajole Congress to “eliminate fossil fuel subsidies amid fiscal cliff negotiations”.   The ad portrays an actor posing as a representative of Exxon, stating, “We all know the climate crisis will rip [your children’s] world apart, but we don’t care because it will make us rich”.  The targeted markets for this advertising campaign includes the very same areas where the American Petroleum Institute is running ads arguing that “[m]ore energy development produces more jobs, revenue and energy.  More taxes produce less of all three”.

This ad war comes on the heels of the budget crisis and looming fiscal cliff.  Proponents of climate change face the possible elimination of wind energy tax credits amid the arguments of conservatives voicing objection to the 2% subsidy by the federal government.  If not extended the PTC credit will expire.  Conversely, opponents of the fossil fuel industry voice objections to not only the huge subsidies received by oil companies, but also to their business model, which requires continuous drilling for oil, which is proven to be responsible for climate disruption.  They cry foul also because in the last year alone, renewable energy, though recognized as important for a healthy environment, received six times less support worldwide than fuel subsidies.

While the declaration that “Exxon Hates Your Children” grabs the attention, it is propaganda.  We all know or should know that Exxon and all major corporations exist at the will of the people.  As long as Exxon (the current poster child for the fossil fuel industry)  has a viable market, it will be around, doing what it does–  drilling and manufacturing oil for oil-hungry consumers.  Exxon does not hate children.  Rather, it loves money, and in its quest to make the money it loves so much, it harms the environment.  Perhaps the best analogy for this scenario can be found in the circumstances surrounding Timothy McVeigh‘s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  It was not McVeigh’s intent to kill the children in the nursery in the federal building.  Rather, they were “collateral damage” in his quest.

Currently, the earth and its inhabitants all are the “collateral damage” of the fossil fuel industry.  However, we do have a choice.  Let’s strive to reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.  We can start at home by conserving energy, reducing our use of water and electricity, recycling and using energy-efficient products.  Moreover, we can make sure we are heard by our representatives, who serve at our will.  Demand that they vote green or be voted out of office.  Let’s fight to live green, be green!

Sources for article:

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/05/exxon-hates-your-children_n_2246481.html
  2. http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/reflections-on-mcveigh.html

Exxon (Photo credit: Tom Haymes)

Despite the criticism of skeptics and conservative politicians, the green job movement is moving forward and progressing.  In fact, a report issued last week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) states that the growth and benefits of green jobs are even stronger than previously expected.  After its analysis of employment data from the Brookings Institution and the Pew Center on the States, who undertook the task of categorizing green jobs on a detailed industry and occupational level, the EPI concludes the following:

  • Green industries are growing faster than the overall economy, at a rate of 2,5 times as fast as other jobs.
  • States with green jobs withstood the recession and fared better than those without green jobs.
  • Approximately 20% of all green jobs are in the manufacturing sector, which is great for the economy because roughly 5.5 million jobs in this area have been lost since 2000.
  • Green jobs offer pathways into the middle class.  These jobs tend to require less education but pay better wages.  This is good for people who cannot afford to go to college but still need good jobs that pay well, enabling them to support their families in a wholesome and healthy manner.

Now we need to adopt the appropriate governmental policies on all levels–local, state and federal–to support the positive movement in the green economy.  This includes investing in storm water infrastructure and supporting energy efficiency programs in cities and states.  We need long-term commitment to businesses involved in solar and wind energy.  Most importantly, we need a change in mindset.  Only through education and technology with demonstrated successes in improvement of air and water quality and reduction in adverse health conditions attributed to pollution will we reverse our dependence on coal and fossil fuels, which are so detrimental to our environment.

A green economy is a win-win situation for everyone.  We can keep moving forward by practicing healthy living, educating our families and communities on green initiatives and demanding that our elected officials support the green movement through public policy.  We know that these strategies are important ingredients in the recipe to live green, be green.

Green economy pays off

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced an award of $40 million to the state of Maryland to upgrade its public transportation system. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) will use this money, along with $13 million in state funds to replace the bus yard and buildings at the Kirk Avenue facility. This bus yard is a major hub for the transit administration. It has 351 employees and provides a storage and maintenance site for 175 buses that serves 16 routes, transporting more than a million passengers per week.

This upgrade is long overdue. In 2004, The Johns Hopkins Center for Urban Environmental Health conducted a study in the area, and the results of readings indicated that noise levels in that vicinity exceeded the limit set by Baltimore’s health ordinances. Additionally, air samples indicated that the “two-week average exposure to diesel exhaust and other combustion was slightly above the federal safety threshold for a full year’s exposure”.

This new facility will provide the technology necessary to maintain energy-efficient buses. The building will be more environmentally friendly, cutting operating costs. The project will provide off-street parking, which will enhance the surrounding neighborhoods in terms of reduced traffic congestion and aesthetics. This upgrade stimulates the economy by providing for construction jobs and for positions to help maintain the “green” buses.

This project is part of a $787 million package to repair and modernize the transit infrastructure nationwide. It definitely is a positive step in the direction to live green, be green.

Establishing a green home does not happen overnight but requires planning, commitment and practice.  Summertime is a great time to start this endeavor.  School is out, and the household is functioning at a slower pace than normal.  This also is a teachable moment for both the adults and children in the family.  The family can start with an outing to the local landfill.  Just seeing the huge mounds of discarded plastics, electronics and other trash is an eye-opening experience.  It effectively and dramaticallyquantifies the overall effect of one household’s trash at the curb combined with the whole area’s trash at a single location.  Just think– this is only one of the landfills in this county alone!

Each family’s efforts towards living green represents a positive step in the right direction.  It is best to start with a master plan.  It can be as simple as first committing to reuse.  Using washable cleaning towels as opposed to paper towels goes a long way as does the incorporation of reusable items such as mugs, plates, cups and water bottles.  Consider the purchase of products such as liquid soap in bulk and refillable decorative bottles.  Donating clothing, toys, household items and electronics to charities serves the dual process of helping others who are less fortunate, as well as keeping these items out of the landfill.  These practices alone will substantially reduce the number of articles going in the trash and on to the landfill.

Summer vacation also is an excellent time to examine your energy and water usage and to make cost-cutting changes.  This is a great time to take a trip to the hardware store to learn about and to invest in energy-efficient lighting and appliances.  If a new appliance is on the shopping list, make sure it it an energy star product.  These products are very energy efficient and will save money in the long run.  This also is a good time to invest in energy-efficient light bulbs for your home.  Thirdly, take a look at water filters.  An investment in a tap filter negates the need to purchase bottled water, thereby lowering grocery costs and most importantly, reducing the number of plastic bottles taken to the landfill.

Going green in the summer presents several opportunities for families to learn healthier and environmentally friendly ways of living, establish green plans, save money and improve the environment.  So this summer try to live green be green.