|Per-person gasoline consumption in the Northwest US states is at its lowest level since 1967—but British Columbians still use much less.|
The 2007 edition of the Cascadia Scorecard, an annual progress report on the Pacific Northwest published by Sightline Institute, shows that per capita gasoline use in the Cascadia region (including British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state) is at a four-decade low.
Given the increase in population in the area, while per capita consumption has decreased, total consumption has remained roughly flat for the last 8 years or so rather than declining. The report points out that this represents a significant change from the preceding decade and a half, during which gasoline consumption rose roughly in tandem with population.
Per-capita diesel (due primarily to long-distance goods transport) and electricity use is rising. Overall, counting highway fuels and electricity in homes and businesses, Cascadians consume the energy equivalent of 2.1 gallons of gasoline daily—nearly double the rate of more energy-efficient consumers such as in Germany. Germany serves as the baseline model for Sightline’s scorecard indicator.
|Warming trends in the Northwest. Click to enlarge.|
Energy, Sightline notes, is the worst performing indicator on the scorecard, which also includes evaluations of health, economy, population, sprawl, wildlife and pollution.
Cascadians’ energy consumption is stuck in high gear. This is the Scorecard trend most in need of redirection. The long-term threat posed by northwesterners’ energy consumption, and by associated climate-changing emissions, is among the most daunting challenges the region faces. Our over dependence on fossil fuels and electricity poses a severe and broad-ranging danger to the natural inheritance that should be our children’s birthright.