What Americans Actually Think About Energy and the Climate
There is a wealth of information to be explored in the modern era, and there’s no shortage of new ideas or contrary viewpoints to be discovered. With all of this information right at our fingertips, it is assumed that many people are becoming more open-minded to new perspectives.
However, in actuality, the converse is true: modern media creates an echo chamber.
Facebook and Google both create information vaccuums: by taking your past activities in account, they will display “news” that is geared to provide confirmation bias. In other words, you will see posts in your newsfeed and search results that tend to confirm your pre-existing beliefs, rather than challenge them.
One way to challenge this?
Instead of just assuming what other people believe, it’s worth it to actively search for data that provides a broad and unbiased perspective. Then, interpret and internalize the data, and you’ll have a much more representative idea of what people think.
What Americans Actually Think About Energy
In today’s infographic, which uses data from a survey by the AP-NORC and the Energy Policy Institute, we get a summary of opinions on energy and climate change from a nationally representative sample of 1,096 Americans.
An analysis of the survey data helps us understand what Americans actually think, rather than what we assume they may think.
Here are some of the most interesting tidbits:
- 65% of Americans think that climate change is a problem that the U.S. government should address, and 10% of Americans believe climate change is not happening.
- 42% of Americans aren’t willing to pay even just $1 per month to combat climate change.
- Americans largely underestimate fracking’s role in providing for the energy mix. Only 1 in 5 Americans correctly say that it produces two-thirds of U.S. natural gas.
- Most Americans don’t hold strong opinions on fracking – but for those that do, people that oppose fracking outnumber those in favor of fracking by a 2:1 ratio.
- Only a quarter of Americans think the U.S. government will fulfill its obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- 54% of Americans favor federal regulation to decrease coal consumption, but that number drops to 45% if jobs will be lost.
It’s always interesting to get an in-depth and representative perspective of what people believe, rather than making false assumptions based on what can be seen on social feeds, news sites, or search results.
Did any of the numbers from the survey surprise you?
Visualizing the Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production
How much oil, coal, and natural gas do we extract each year? See the scale of annual fossil fuel production in perspective.
The Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production
Fossil fuels have been our predominant source of energy for over a century, and the world still extracts and consumes a colossal amount of coal, oil, and gas every year.
This infographic visualizes the volume of global fossil fuel production in 2021 using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.
The Facts on Fossil Fuels
In 2021, the world produced around 8 billion tonnes of coal, 4 billion tonnes of oil, and over 4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.
Most of the coal is used to generate electricity for our homes and offices and has a key role in steel production. Similarly, natural gas is a large source of electricity and heat for industries and buildings. Oil is primarily used by the transportation sector, in addition to petrochemical manufacturing, heating, and other end uses.
Here’s a full breakdown of coal, oil, and gas production by country in 2021.
If all the coal produced in 2021 were arranged in a cube, it would measure 2,141 meters (2.1km) on each side—more than 2.5 times the height of the world’s tallest building.
China produced 50% or more than four billion tonnes of the world’s coal in 2021. It’s also the largest consumer of coal, accounting for 54% of coal consumption in 2021.
|Rank||Country||2021 Coal Production|
|% of Total|
|#7||🇿🇦 South Africa||234.5||3%|
India is both the second largest producer and consumer of coal. Meanwhile, Indonesia is the world’s largest coal exporter, followed by Australia.
In the West, U.S. coal production was down 47% as compared to 2011 levels, and the descent is likely to continue with the clean energy transition.
In 2021, the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were the three largest crude oil producers, respectively.
|Rank||Country||2021 Oil Production |
|% of Total|
|#3||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||515.0||12%|
OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, made up the largest share of production at 35% or 1.5 billion tonnes of oil.
U.S. oil production has seen significant growth since 2010. In 2021, the U.S. extracted 711 million tonnes of oil, more than double the 333 million tonnes produced in 2010.
Natural Gas Production
The world produced 4,036 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2021. The above graphic converts that into an equivalent of seven billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to visualize it on the same scale as oil and gas.
Here are the top 10 producers of natural gas in 2021:
|Rank||Country||2021 Natural Gas Production |
|% of Total|
|#8||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||117.3||3%|
The U.S. was the largest producer, with Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for 47% of its gas production. The U.S. electric power and industrial sectors account for around one-third of domestic natural gas consumption.
Russia, the next-largest producer, was the biggest exporter of gas in 2021. It exported an estimated 210 billion cubic meters of natural gas via pipelines to Europe and China. Around 80% of Russian natural gas comes from operations in the Arctic region.
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