Same Old New Year on Climate

“It’s 11 KBBL degrees below zero! I hope you’re someplace warm!” — Bill
 “You bet your sweet . . . ass!” — Homer Simpson

It got down to literally 0F on the last night of 2017. It’s up to 6F right now, and expected to top out at a balmy 11F. One side effect of this kind of cold is that you can physically see all the energy that makes it tolerable. In warmer weather, tailpipes just seem to sit there, maybe vibrate a little if you get close or there’s a bracket loose. At 6F, tailpipes are like dragon nostrils, exhaling huge and purposeful clouds. Chimneys and roof vents that stand unmoving most of the time seem to come alive as a steady geyser of carbon rockets skyward.

I’m going to spend a great deal of today watching football. Prior to kickoff, I’m going to use natural gas to cook breakfast. An 1100W microwave will probably also be pressed into duty. The eggs and bacon I cook have been hauled to me at enormous energy cost from god knows how far away, and let’s not even talk about the orange juice. The store I visit will have artificially frozen cases inside an artificially heated building, and before any of that I’m going to hop in a car and deposit fifteen or so pounds of carbon into the atmosphere just to get there. At least some of that carbon is going to be in the air for thousands of years, but it will be a good breakfast.

As fun as all this is going to be, the problem with New Year’s 2018 is the same as the problem with New Year’s 2017, and 2016, and 2015, and so on. The systems that allow ordinary Americans to live relatively comfortable lives remain grossly inefficient and completely unreformed. I turned up the heat last night because the thermostat is in the middle of the apartment, far from the cold bedrooms and the windows that leak heat like sieves in this kind of weather. The apartment company has no reason to replace them, since they don’t pay for the heat.

Sadly, I suspect this casually abhorrent energy waste will continue all year and that New Year’s 2019 will see no meaningful progress. I’d be happy to be wrong about that, but it’s hard to see how 2018 isn’t already a lost year when it comes to American energy usage.

Anyway, Happy New Year! [noisemaker emoji]