October 8, 2013 11:25 am
America is now, or will soon be, the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, says the Wall Street Journal. Saudi Arabia is still the world’s largest source of oil alone. But Russia and the U.S. aren’t far behind at all. Russia puts out 92 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil output. American pumps 88 percent as much. When you take natural gas into account, Russia and the U.S. leap far ahead of the Middle Eastern nation. The shale gas boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and high energy prices, has launched the U.S. towards the top spot, with all sorts of consequences, including upsetting long-established trade and political agreements. If you’re just looking at coal, though, the U.S. loses out to China. China makes nearly half the world’s coal. Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal or oil, and as the U.S. has started using more gas and improving energy efficiency, the country’s carbon emissions have steadily dropped. But, the coal that America replaced hasn’t gone unused—it’s just being shipped to Europe. American fossil fuel production, says the Wall Street Journal, “is about demand and the cost of production. Those are the two drivers.” For the climate’s sake, then, the idea that the global demand for fossil fuels may be waning—spurred by dropping prices for renewable energy and more efficient energy production—is a reassuring one. More from Smithsonian.com: Where in the World Will the Fracking Boom Visit Next? Oil May Finally Be Hitting Its Peak Researchers Find Fracking Might Cause Earthquakes After All Japan Just Opened Up a Whole New Source for Fossil Fuels
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