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Showing posts from August 23, 2009

ECOLOGY--THE CLOSING CIRCLE Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (5 of 5)

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (5 of 5) ECOLOGY--THE CLOSING CIRCLE Ecology and efficiency are merely two sides of the same coin. Efficient energy systems require less fuel and emit fewer combustion products. Substituting data flow for that of people and their vehicles reduces fuel and material use. Recycling materials reduces mining requirements and fuel needs while decreasing waste streams. Better materials reduce energy use, mining needs, and dangerous waste products. Better food production systems could feed many times more people at less energy cost and less pain to the environment. Still, the greatest danger to humanity is probably fouling the nest with wasted resources before realizing their value. Poor farming practices and overgrazing devastated much of the land where classical civilizations thrived (Lowdermilk). Ruined highlands silted and ruined lowlands. One initiative of China's so-called Great Leap Forward in the early years of the

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (4 of 5) FOOD

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (4 of 5) FOOD Shortly after the Second World War, thousands of Japanese prisoners were hungry nearly to starvation. It was not that their American captors had deliberately deprived them, only that they had received wheat instead of rice. This illustrates an important facet of human behavior. Unless constrained in a prison camp, people resist new eating habits. Thus, it is seems difficult to use the many efficient options available. Yet, progress eventually comes. In Europe, potatoes were only fed to livestock for some decades before an eccentric booster (who had been fed potatoes as a prisoner of war) gave the French queen a bouquet of potato flowers. In America, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous until in the early 1800s a maniacal gardener posted notices and then astonished a crowd by publicly eating a tomato. Conversely, people eat too much of some things. A

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (3 of 5)

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (3 of 5) ENERGY AGAIN--AVOIDING TRAVEL Another transportation approach may be the best, avoid it altogether! James Martin wrote about "the wired society" in the 1970s. Martin described possibilities of replacing much commuting with communicating, and Martin's wired society is developing now. Many jobs can are done at home. Employees simply call in to send and receive data. Communication has already decreased the energy costs of a small number of telecommuters. If applied widely, it can save energy for roads and vehicles and materials for the work places that are no longer needed. Most important, telecommuting to work is distance insensitive. Once society adjusts to telecommuting, telecommuters can be across town or across the continent...or on another continent...or across space. One effect of this is that peasants can get good jobs without leaving their land. Nature lovers can homestead in the wilds whil

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (2 of 5)

Conserve To Greatness---Energy Resource Efficiency and The Future (2 of 5) ENERGY Energy is the most notable set of mineral resources because any shortages of energy affect production of other minerals and food. Conversely, excess energy allows production from the most dilute ores and the most marginal farm lands. World energy prices reached low points in the 1960s and 1980s (adjusted for inflation). In the 1960s, Increased production in the giant oil fields of North Africa and the Persian Gulf drove down the prices of oil and all competing energy sources. Low prices allowed sloppy burning methods and encouraged rapid growth in energy use. Energy use increased geometrically, as in the Club of Rome computer simulations. Then in the 1970s, many of the major petroleum exporters managed to raise world prices by cartel controls on production, and most energy prices rose along with those of oil. Consequently, efficiency of energy use also began incr