While many areas of the world are making efforts to step away from its use, the State of Utah currently relies heavily on coal for Energy Production. Although efforts to implement alternative energy resources have been introduced in the recent past, production reports continue to identify a disproportionate use of coal when compared against other energy alternatives.
Coal is particularly damaging to air quality, releasing particles that can have permanent effects on developing infants, and put all in danger of severe respiratory health conditions. Inversions throughout the state visibly demonstrate the intensity of the pollutants that current emissions are putting into the air we breath.
Beyond these immediate health concerns, excessive Carbon Dioxide releases (associated with the use of coal and other, non-renewable resources) are additionally affecting global climates: introducing long-term consequences, health and otherwise.
The graphic above clearly depicts Carbon Dioxide emissions increasing in the State of Utah over time. As the State's population increases, and unless action is taken, these emissions are projected to grow at accelerated, unstable rates. We are all are part of this conversation, and change will only be realized through collaborative efforts to achieve common goals.
What are our expectations of the future?
These energy production methods are already affecting our lifestyles. Is this something that we are concerned about? What effects do we, as a culture, believe that the continuation of our current behavior will have on future generations? Will they enjoy the same opportunities we do? Will they be healthy?
In response to these types of inquiries, several major Utah institutions have modified their energy consumption habits (oftentimes researching and implementing new techniques to do so). Most who have taken action report immediate, increased economic self-reliance and sustainability. Even through efforts to simply increase the efficiency of previously existing resources and technologies, institutions are managing to save thousands of dollars while still reducing undesirable emissions.
Buildings, particularly, in the Salt Lake area are also making efforts to better utilize sustainable, accessible resources. Facility management professionals, and other private institutions, are recognizing a need for change and implementing new technologies. Public awareness is increasing, and non-profit organizations are taking collaborative action. The State of Utah has even set goals to have twenty-five percent of its energy produced by renewable energy sources by 2025. Although many are unaware, additional legislation to improve the current situation is also underway. Positive results are being realized at greater capacities everyday. A movement is starting.
How can you participate? What can you do?
Stay informed. Many are unaware of the action that local leadership is taking against climate-related issues. By recognizing the realities and becoming further informed, citizens are able to address and improve upon the current situation. Although there is already momentum moving towards a more sustainable future, we are the only ones that can really make it happen. We can all work to make more environmentally-aware decisions in our communities: especially as consumers.
The long-term health, economic, and practical benefits of doing so are real, and achievable.
U.S. Energy Information Administration
Governor's Office of Energy Development
Utah Department of Health
Utah Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
"County Snapshots." Utah.gov, 29 Mar. 2017, http://jobs.utah.gov/wi/regions/county/index.html.
Health Indicator Report of Climate Change: Greenhouse Gases. Utah Department of Health, 2014, https://ibis.health.utah.gov/indicator/view/CliChaGreGas.All.html. Accessed 18 April 2017.
Utah: Energy Overview. Governor’s Office of Energy Development, 2015, http://energy.utah.gov/resource-areas/energy-information/. Accessed 13 April 2017.
Utah: Regional Impacts – State Fact Sheets. Climate Nexus, 2015, http://climatenexus.org/learn/state-fact-sheets/utah. Accessed 13 April 2017.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration Family of Sites. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2014, https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=UT. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.
The Utah Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. "Air Pollution And Public Health in Utah." State of Utah: Utah Department of Heatlh, http://health.utah.gov/enviroepi/healthyhomes/epht/AirPollution_PublicHealth.pdf. Accessed 13 April 2017.
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication Family of Websites. Global Warming’s Six Americas, 2008, http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/about/projects/global-warmings-six-americas/. Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.