5 environmental wins to celebrate

Where have humans made progress on energy and the environment?

5. Energy efficiency

Will Burgess/Reuters/File
A man poses with an old-style incandescent light bulb (R) and an energy-saving compact florescent bulb (L) at a warehouse in Sydney.

The world is using energy more wisely. Total energy consumption continues to rise, but energy intensity – worldwide total energy consumption divided by gross world product – dropped 20.5 percent between 1981 and 2010, according to Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based environmental research group. Until recently, global efficiency growth has accelerated as cars, appliances, and economies do more with less. In the 1980s, energy intensity dropped at an average annual rate of 0.98 percent, while dropping at 1.4 percent in the 1990s, during the peak of the developed world’s transition to service-based economies.

The decline of energy intensity leveled out in the 2000s and even ticked up 1.35 percent in 2010, according to Worldwatch Institute. That’s largely due to energy demand outpacing economic growth in the wake of the 2008 global recession.   

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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