Arizona ranks second in the United States for having the highest light potential for solar energy, following closely behind Nevada. Still, it is in fifth place when it comes to actual solar-generated electricity output.

In 2021, 43% of Arizona’s energy came from natural gas, only 9% from solar, and another 13% from coal – the latter being the result of co-ownership of plants in Colorado and New Mexico, and Arizona’s last coal mine having closed in 2019.

For a state so sun-baked, it might concern some that more than half of Arizona’s energy still comes from fossil fuels – a notion that commands further exploration.

The Balance of Solar Power

Whilst support for solar energy in Arizona has increased in recent years, the balance of power continues to swing in the opposite direction, with natural gas consumption rising by more than 30% between 2016 and 2020.

One may be inclined to point fingers at the administration that happened to be in the White House during those four years. Still, everyone has their own opinion on the matter, with either side seemingly fighting over who is actually at fault.

Regardless, with average summer temperatures in the state often reaching between 90 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 to 48.9 Celsius), the heat may already make the idea of buying that liquid nitrogen generator not so outlandish after all; the threat of global temperatures raising this even further may strike some as a little worrying (perhaps the nitrogen generator idea is a little over the top for a mere homeowner, but you get the picture).

Why Scientists Are Freaking Out

Admittedly, it is frustrating when someone with a high-flying salary working in a flashy office, a lab in Philadelphia, or somewhere similar tells you you’re a horrible person for filling up your pickup truck to get to work or leaving your air conditioning on all day when it’s over a hundred degrees outside.

Moreover, explaining to Arizonians how to stay cool is a bit like trying to explain to Norwegians how to keep warm – indeed, a little patronizing and insulting. Unfortunately, it’s not just about Arizona. Scientists looking down their noses at ordinary people trying to make an honest living aside, none of this changes the fact that the current rate of CO2 emissions is set to raise global temperatures by two to three degrees or more.

Sure, this temperature increase doesn’t sound like much; however, it is more than enough to completely destabilize most global ecosystems and melt ice caps, raising sea levels enough to literally drown Manhattan.

The more frightening prospect, however, is the release of massive methane deposits trapped under the arctic ice cap, which has the potential to raise global temperatures further into the five or six-degree mark, the like of which has been associated with some of the most devastating mass extinction events in Earth’s history.

It’s Not Arizona’s Fault

At least Arizona is trying, though, as the nearly-a-tenth of its energy output being solar should demonstrate, and it is likely that with oil prices rising, especially following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Europe, there may well be a massive shift towards renewable sources like solar anyway.

The real problem is China, which supports a population of almost one and a half billion people on an energy mix comprising 8% natural gas, 20% petroleum and other liquid fossil fuels, and 58% coal. That’s not a political opinion; that’s just what the numbers say.