This month’s Green Rays of Hope focuses on the fact that CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions during the first quarter of 2012 are at historic 20-year lows.

This was verified by a newly released report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. While they come from different sources, human-related CO2 emissions are considered responsible for most of the increase that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution and may be contributing to global warming.

According to Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and CEO of the Sustainability Dashboard, there are a variety of reasons that CO2 emissions have dropped so significantly in the United States.

“One big factor is that more power-generating plants in the [United States] are transferring from coal to much cleaner natural gas. In fact, the electricity generated from coal-fired power plants is at the lowest level in nearly four decades.”

Ashkin adds that newer natural-gas-powered plants are now coming online that also “operate more efficiently than coal-powered systems. So not only are fewer [CO2] emissions being released, natural resources are being used more effectively, another sign that we are meeting the challenges of the 21st century.”

The Green Rays of Hope initiative is a joint venture of The Ashkin Group, advocates for Greening the professional cleaning industry, and the Sustainability Dashboard, a Web-based system to help organizations better manage and monitor their use of natural resources.

Its purpose is to publicize often-overlooked trends that indicate that some of the world’s most serious environmental challenges are being addressed more effectively than may be realized.