Predicting Future Energy Consumption

Dr. Judah Cohen, Principal Scientist and Director of Seasonal Forecasting
November 16, 2010

Not only are greenhouse gases a major force that is driving global warming, but their impacts on temperature change is also now known to be greater than initially thought. On top of that, annual global temperatures are continuing to accelerate.  We have determined that, based on the average of a set of complex atmospheric model projections, the temperature will increase in the United States in each of its regions throughout the first half of the twenty-first century in both winter and summer.

This not only has obvious environmental impacts, but also impacts the world’s energy consumption. Energy required to heat living and work spaces in the winter will decrease while energy required for cooling these spaces in the summer will increase. Predictions of the course of global and regional climate change enable us to make further predictions on how these changes will impact future energy consumption.

While climate change is a global issue, these changes do not impact energy use in all areas of the United States equally. The net effect will be energy savings in the North and energy increases in the South and West. Overall, we estimate future heating and cooling energy consumption to increase in the U.S. by up to 10% by the 2040’s.

Though these projected rises in temperatures have particularly strong impacts for energy, land use, ecology and the overall economy, these are not the only elements that we predict to be influenced by climate change. The global climate change is impacting everything from sea level to storm patterns and the water cycle. It is just that climate change’s impact on energy is the most obvious because of its direct connection to our wallets.