Energy

ANALYSIS: US Christmas Lights Use More Energy Than Entire Countries Do In A Year, And That Tells Us Something Important

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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It’s Christmas Eve, and already millions of American families have decorated their homes with dazzling light arrays to celebrate the holidays. But did you know all those Christmas lights use more energy than some countries do in an entire year?

Americans put up enough Christmas lights every year to use 6.63 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, Phys.org reported. That’s a lot of lights and holiday cheer. So many lights, in fact, that the amount of electricity needed to power all this is more than some poor countries use in an entire year.

Researchers with the Center for Global Development, using Department of Energy and World Bank data, found that Christmas lights use as much energy as “the national electricity consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, or Cambodia.”

Here’s a nifty chart CGD put together to show the immense amount of power needed to power all those Christmas lights.

Christmas-light-energy-chart

Source: Center For Global Development

The stat is less about guilt, more about celebrating and being thankful for great prosperity, right along with Christmas.

Developed nations like the U.S. have been blessed with an abundance of coal, natural gas, oil and water — all of which they harness to keep the lights on, the cars running, and the homes warm. Businessmen have found ways to take these natural resources and turn them into forces that have lifted billions of people around the world out of poverty.

Coal, for example, drove the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the U.S., which lifted people out of poverty with affordable, reliable electricity. And today, coal is doing the same thing for billions more in the developing world, like India and China, by bringing cities and rural communities literally out of cold darkness.

Environmentalists have vilified coal and other fossil fuel energy sources, saying they are polluting the world and causing global warming. But tell that to people in India, Africa and other parts of the world where they don’t have the electricity to power the modern conveniences developed nations have all taken for granted for decades.

Energy poverty is rampant in vast swaths of the globe. Hundreds of millions of people lack access to electricity. Alleviating energy injustice is exactly why China, India and other countries are boosting coal production and building coal plants to bring cheap power to people.

India plans on doubling its coal production by 2020 and has opened a new coal mine every month to meet that goal.

This year, China approved the construction of a new coal plant every two days, and the country has no plans to cut coal-generated electricity. Coal has been the main driver of China’s poverty reduction this millennium.

“If coal-fueled China were taken out of the equation, the number of the world’s poor has actually risen since the 1980s,” said Milton Catelin, chief executive of the World Coal Association.

“Virtually all of the world’s poverty reduction between 1981 and 2008 took place in China,” Catelin said. “No other poverty alleviation strategy in modern history has been more effective than the one implemented by China and driven by an economy fueled at over 70 percent by coal.”

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