Fossil fuel burning to set new record highs, asking for climate disaster

The world is on fire, as global warming or the rising average temperature on Earth, is the herald of widespread disaster.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects global consumption of liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, to set new record highs in 2024.

Petroleum fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, contain hydrocarbons, a complex mixture of molecules of hydrogen and carbon. When burned to produce energy, these fossil fuel hydrocarbons also deposit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the principal cause of global warming.

According to EIA’s January Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), global liquid fuel consumption will exceed 100 million barrels per day, on average, in 2023 for the first time since 2019, then average more than 102 million barrels per day in 2024.

EIA expects crude oil prices to decrease through 2023 and 2024, even as petroleum consumption increases, largely because growth in crude oil production in the United States and abroad will continue to increase over the next two years.

EIA forecasts that the European benchmark Brent crude oil price will average less than $80 per barrel in 2024, more than 20% lower than in 2022.

The ever-increasing use of fossil fuels in industry, transportation, and construction has added large amounts of CO2 to Earth’s atmosphere.

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations fluctuated between 275 and 290 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of dry air between 1000 BC and the late 18th century but had increased to 316 ppmv by 1959 and rose to 412 ppmv in 2018.

CO2 behaves as a greenhouse gas—that is, it absorbs infrared radiation (net heat energy) emitted from Earth’s surface and reradiates it back to the surface.

Thus, the substantial CO2 increase in the atmosphere is a major contributing factor to human-induced global warming.

“President Biden said in his State of the Union speech that the climate crisis ‘is an existential threat’ and that ‘we have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to confront it’ but the Energy Department predicted that fossil fuel output will set a new high record next year,” said Lisa McCormick. “The truth is, world leaders have not been responsible. They have failed to address this crisis with the appropriate urgency.”

Progressive New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick
Progressive New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick

McCormick, who earned four out of ten votes in the 2018 New Jersey Democratic primary for the US Senate, is calling for the nationalization of oil companies and more aggressive action to stop rising fossil fuel output.

“Oil companies are the most flagrant polluters, they lied about climate science and paid off politicians to allow them to keep destroying the atmosphere, and I suspect that they buried technology that could have reduced our addiction to fossil fuels,” said McCormick. “These actions constitute filicide, making these firms the worst criminal enterprises in history.”

McCormick alleged that the industry severely aggravated the environmental crisis with its decades-long campaign of lies and deceit to suppress warnings about the impact of fossil fuels on the climate, even when those alarms came from their own scientists.

“After a century of wielding extraordinary economic and political power, petroleum giants face a reckoning for causing the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes but that may no be enough,” said McCormick. “An unprecedented wave of lawsuits, filed by cities and states across the US, seek to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels – and covering up what they knew along the way.”

Environmentalist Bill McKibben characterized the fossil fuel industry’s behavior as “the most consequential cover-up in US history” as new revelations show a 1979 Exxon study said that burning fossil fuels “will cause dramatic environmental effects” in the coming decades.

This dire news has not yet cost the oil giants any significant amount of money.

ExxonMobil’s profit last year was $55.7 billion, the most money ever earned by a Western oil company.

Chevron announced recently that it brought in a record-shattering $35.5 billion in profits in 2022, a sum that campaigners said highlights just how much the company benefited from global energy market chaos spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Our forecast for global consumption of petroleum depends on uncertain economic conditions—especially in China,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis. “How China’s economy changes following its reopening from pandemic lockdowns could have a significant impact on global consumption of petroleum products.”

Other key takeaways from the January 2023 STEO forecast include:

  • U.S. gasoline prices are largely tied to crude oil, and EIA expects significant price decreases at the pump compared with 2022. EIA forecasts U.S. gasoline prices to average around $3.30 per gallon in 2023 and $3.10 per gallon in 2024. “Lower crude oil prices are one reason we expect lower gasoline prices, but we also expect that reduced refinery margins will contribute to gasoline prices coming down from 2022 highs,” DeCarolis said.
  • EIA expects U.S. natural gas prices to decrease, on average, through 2023 and 2024 as domestic production continues to grow. EIA also expects additional growth in U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as global demand remains strong and more U.S. LNG export facilities come online. “The natural gas market is particularly uncertain, but we expect that U.S. natural gas production will establish new record highs in both 2023 and 2024, leading to lower domestic prices,” DeCarolis said.
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. electricity generated from coal to decrease from 20% in 2022 to 18% in 2023 and then to 17% in 2024. The share of renewable energy as a source for electricity generation in the United States continues to increase, reaching 26% of total generation in 2024. About two-thirds of the forecast increase in renewables generation comes from new utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity, and most of the rest is from new wind projects.

The full January 2023 STEO is available on the EIA website and includes EIA’s first forecasts for 2024.

A group of 34 Republican senators said on Thursday they would seek to overturn U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that aim to drastically cut smog- and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty trucks.

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