People who live in Bangladesh use the least energy, per capita, in the world–only 380 watts per day. People of the U.S. (whom I call U.S.ers) use 12,000 watts per day. That’s quite a difference, yet the US is only the ninth biggest energy hog in the world, which should make us feel a little better, maybe.
If you look at how much the whole world uses, it’s enough to supply every single person everyday with 2,000 watts of energy. Some really idealistic people in Switzerland take that fact as a goal. They believe it’s not just possible but desirable that everyone on earth use only 2,000 watts per day. They call their ideal the 2,000 Watt Society.
There is a certain appeal to that. In general, I like the idea that energy hogs would use less while energy-starved people get to use more. And it certainly is possible for U.S.ers and other energy hogs to use a lot less energy and yet preserve a high standard of living. Look at Europe–they average about 6,000 watts.
However, there is one thing I don’t understand about the 2,000 Watt Society. Why is it focused on energy use instead of greenhouse gas emissions? They’re not always the same thing. For instance, the world’s #1 per capita energy user is Iceland. But Iceland produces a huge amount of clean renewable energy in the form of hydro and geo-thermal energy. They produce, at most, .01% of earth’s emissions.
I could understand that U.S. using less energy could theoretically allow another country to use more because we’d be emitting less greenhouse gasses. So another country could conceivably emit more without changing overall global emissions. But Iceland is a different story. Iceland using less energy would not affect global emissions.
Perhaps the strict quota is to prevent high energy users from simply adding clean energy to their overall energy supply, thus increasing their energy use without decreasing what they’re already emitting. But if conventional energy hogs could bring down their energy use while simultaneously converting more to clean, renewable energy, global emissions would plummet.
Meanwhile, I am wishing for lots of clean energy for the people of Bangladesh.