Showing posts from August 16, 2009
Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (1 of 5) Man built most nobly when confronted with the greatest limitations. Frank Lloyd Wright Nothing grates quite so much as that stock phrase, "This country didn't conserve its way to greatness." In fact, homo sapiens in general and Americans in particular did conserve to greatness! Better designs, using less material to get more results, is only one engineering option, the opposite of burning more fuel. If fuel is cheap and fresh air unlimited, burning more is wisest. If fuel is costly and air polluted, time and materials must be devoted to increasing cleverness. Fortunately, this can often be done. Clever engineering can often follow Buckminster Fuller's dictum of "doing more with less." For example, Benjamin Franklin was asked to help ease a problem of a wood f

The Silver Bullet Blues—Stumbling Towards Energy Fixes

The Silver Bullet Blues—Stumbling Towards Energy Fixes You see, during the full moon, I become a terrible raging thing, a werewolf. That’s why you must take this gun and be prepared to use it. It has a silver bullet. That’s the only thing that can stop me. Lon Chaney as Frank Talbott into many werewolf movies A silver bullet … or a crucifix … or a contrived delivery of sunlight is a dependable component of thrillers. At the last moment, the one crucial item defeats evil, and goodness prevails. The silver-bullet metaphor has even escaped the fictional realm. One often hears, “We need to find the silver bullet for …,” X, whatever X is. Unfortunately, reality has few simple issues and fewer silver bullets. Instead, shortages of desired things and unwanted byproducts of producing those things can only be solved (or mitigated) by investing work and money and time. Magical thinking allows societies to stumble after silver bullets rather than making the practical investments to solve problems

Every Little Energy Bit Helps

Every Little Energy Bit Helps…And Every Eccentric Bit…and Every Bottom-Line Bit Every little bit helps! Every little bit helps! That was a line from a new group in the 1970s—the environmentalists. They had big ideas about cleaning all the smoke stacks of America. They also had little ideas. One of the little ideas was a brick in the toilette tank. One brick saved about one quart per flush with the resulting savings in water and water purification chemicals. AND if all the toilettes in America had a brick…. Let’s start with a serious concern about energy. Petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert said that petroleum production is like a bell-shaped curve. Production of oil for our cars goes steeply up to a peak.…. Then, it goes steeply down. In 1956, Hubbert said that oil production in the lower forty-eight states would peak about 1970. People laughed…until 1970 when it happened. Now, other geologists are saying there is a similar curve for world oil production. And that peak might be roughly

An Open Letter to T. Boone Pickens, Richard Rainwater, Antonio Villariogosa

Gentlemen, I am writing this letter because you are iconic figures representing three vital points of a political triangle needed to make a major energy revolution. T. Boone Pickens, you are a business deal-maker controlling billions of dollars who has recently cultivated a following among democrats and environmentalists to develop greater use of natural gas and wind energy. Richard Rainwater, you are an investments advisor and broker, also controlling billions of dollars. Moreover, you have strong contacts with a number of people in the Republican party, including the Bush family. Antonio Villaraigosa, you are the Hispanic mayor of a major Southwest United States city, short on electrical power but rich in sunlight and heat. Together you three have the wild hairs to dream, the money to build dreams into innovation, the political clout to burst through walls of inertia, and the managerial drive & finesse to maintain the drive for transforming innovations