Smoking A Joint Could Ruin Your Carbon Footprint
Marijuana growers are responsible for 1 percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. according to a new report.
Evan Mills, a longtime energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, recently completed a study aimed at quantifying a previously undocumented component of energy demand in the United States: the marijuana industry.
The analysis performed in this study finds that indoor Cannabis production results in energy expenditures of $5 billion each year, with electricity use equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes. This corresponds to 1% of national electricity consumption or 2% of that in households. The yearly greenhouse-gas pollution (carbon dioxide, CO2 ) from the electricity plus associated transportation fuels equals that of 3 million cars. Energy costs constitute a quarter of wholesale value.
These findings become even more remarkable when Mills breaks them down into easy to visualize terms. For instance:
- Smoking a single Cannabis cigarette represents 2 pounds of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours with average U.S. electricity.
- A four-by-four-foot marijuana production module doubles the electricity use of an average U.S. home and triples that of an average California home. The added electricity use is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators. Processed Cannabis results in 3000-times its weight in CO2 emissions.
- For off-grid production (i.e. secret grow houses in the woods), it requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor Cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators.
Yikes! Those kinds of stats can really ruin your buzz.
With medical marijuana slowly finding its way back into mainstream cuture and legalization legislation finding its way on to a growing number of state ballots, it’s important to put the stoner jokes aside and think about ways to reduce this industry’s impact on the environment.
Mills says the energy use for indoor Cannabis production can be reduced dramatically. Cost-effective efficiency improvements of 75% are conceivable, which would yield energy savings of about $25,000/year for a generic 10-module growing room. Shifting cultivation outdoors eliminates most energy uses (aside from transport), although the practice can impose other environmental impacts.
via Fast Company
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