Dirty Lies

“Severe restrictions on the amount of energy we use”? Not even. What the polluters aren’t telling you is that America could easily cut its energy use right now without consumers even feeling a pinch, because so much energy is wasted by dirty and antiquated power plant technologies. At the White House Conference on Climate Change last month at Georgetown University, Tom Casten, the president and CEO of Trigen Energy Corporation, pointed out that an incredible two-thirds of the energy used in power plants in the United States is wasted, never converted to electricity, and that simply by using conservation technologies to recover lost heat, the U.S. could reduce its CO2 emissions by 22%. (Trigen specializes in turning “waste” energy into commercial power.) It’s the power companies who’d feel the pinch, because they’d be forced to clean up their act in order to compete.

What’s more, economists and energy scientists agree that energy conservation — and the development of cost-effective renewable energy sources like photovoltaic, wind, biomass, and ocean thermal — could actually end up saving the consumer money, because these options cost less than the polluting fuels they would replace.

For a good starting point on alternative energy and conservation projects, including those you can start right in your own household, try the Rocky Mountain Institute.