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Stuff that matters

Sorry, future!

The Energy Department expects no decline in America’s carbon emissions by 2050.

In fact, according to the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projections, our carbon footprint will only get bigger.

The lines estimating our future emissions look placidly flat, which might appear reassuring — until you remember that to stave off the risk of climate change’s catastrophic effects, we need those lines to plummet. Starting yesterday.

This is fine! U.S. Energy Information Administration

By these estimations, America is pretty much on track to use the entire planet’s carbon budget by 2050.

The EIA report suggests that we’ll see solar power spread, but fewer new wind turbines as subsidies expire. It also predicts that we’ll build a lot more natural gas generators, which play well with surging renewables because they can turn on and off quickly. The problem: Natural gas contributes to climate change.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Fortunately, we can take these worrying projections with a grain of salt. The EIA is notorious for underestimating the rise of renewables and exaggerating the staying power of fossil fuels. Plus, the projections don’t account for future policies or inventions that might clean up tailpipes and smokestacks.

In other words, Americans can still do something to sway this outcome — which is good, because we kind of have to.