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The Utility of 'Lite': Getting Real About Demand Reduction

by DeAnander Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 07:57:41 AM EST

In the last diary I metaphorically cartooned our civilisation as a hot air balloon losing altitude, with the passengers tossing things overboard -- hopefully not each other -- to try to gain altitude or at least to soften the inevitable landing. And I asserted that we were going to have to jettison some foundational beliefs of our culture, which -- as Jared Diamond reminds us at great length and detail in his Collapse tome -- is not easy for a culture to do. Some have literally chosen to commit collective or civilisational suicide rather than toss the baggage.

The previous diary was about Travelling Light -- facing those tough packing decisions when you can't take the kitchen sink on the train and the piano doesn't fit in your backpack.  This one -- another Nomad/DeAnander co-production -- is about Settling In:  what if we apply that kind of decision-making to a more permanent lifestyle, what if we actually decided to settle and live long-term in the undiscovered country of true-cost energy and a finite physical world?

Among the ideological/religious baggage I personally would like to see tossed overboard are a laundry list of 19th century ideas like our faith in the Energy Fairy, i.e. wilful ignorance and denial of the basic mathematics of energy production. Analysis of biofuels, for example, consistently points out the obvious: that the energy distillable from biomass cannot even begin to replace the fossil fuels we are guzzling at record rates -- not without exterminating a large percentage of the human beings on the planet who would prefer to be eating some of that biomass. And yet, despite the relative simplicity of the concepts and the arithmetic involved, large numbers of people persist in wilful denial and wishful thinking that the Biofuel Energy Fairy is going to appear upper-stage-right on a long wire and Save Us.


[Here I should note that I'm similarly skeptical -- in an even-handed way -- about the Nuclear Energy Fairy, the Hydrogen Energy Fairy, the Lunar Helium Energy Fairy (oh dear), and so on. Andrew Lang could compile a whole new series of folktale books for our time, were he still among us.]

From the diaries with an edit - afew


More baggage that we can't afford (imho): blind faith in the Doctrine of Substitutability, which fails with thundering obviousness when it comes to resources like potable water, fish, bees, viable topsoil, and climatic stability. Blind faith in the Doctrine of Infinite Growth, which any microbiologist with access to a Petri dish can disprove in a week or so. And so on. We're going to have to throw some tired old ideas overboard pretty soon now; they are dragging us down.

But then there is the question of our consumption baggage, the real-world manifestation of our ideological baggage (much as a family of 12 children is the real-world manifestation of a patriarchal/natalist ideology). What about the 24 acres that it takes to support the lifestyle of the average American, when there are only about 4 viable acres of arable land, worldwide, per living human being? What about the 25 percent of annual fossil fuel "production" (i.e. liquidation) that N Americans consume while comprising 5 percent or less of the global population. And so on. Migeru and I had a productive conversation recently about what a "terron" is (one person's share of Terra's annual energy/food/water productivity) and rather than do a lengthy quote I've just linked back to it here.

It seems fairly obvious that (a) this level of TAWOLINN consumption cannot be continued without dire consequences in the form of resource exhaustion and environmental collapse; and (b) attempts to prolong it must presuppose the continued immiseration of a majority of the global population, who will never get a fair share of resources and whose (peripheral) countries are being pillaged, polluted, and generally expropriated to keep raw materials flowing into the industrial hoppers of the "First World". On either an ethical or a pragmatic plane, business-as-usual looks unacceptable. As the Yanks have been rediscovering in recent years, the cost of enforcing liquidationist colonial policy by armed might is disproportionately high. While it may enrich a generation of courtiers around the throne of crony capitalism, in the end it does not serve the national interest; it's a negative-sum game. All that results is an accelerated squandering of the very resources being squabbled over.

So, if we accept that we should be packing lighter for a long trip into the future -- not just a brief vacation of camping out, but an extended stay, an undiscovered country that we may have to settle in permanently -- we are faced with choices. What would it take to bring, say, my personal "lifestyle support budget" down to 4 acres? What could I give up without much regret, and what do I really need to feel happy, comfortable, etc.?


We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements in life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.

-- Charles Kingsley

How squalid and depressing would a post-Peak, low-energy-budget lifestyle be? Let's consider a recent essay by an American, called Living Mostly Off the Grid:

In many ways, my life is like that of any typical suburban homeowner of modest means.

Except that I make my own power for 11 months out of the year. It's only 11 months, because after the rains start in November, it still takes a month for the creek to rise high enough to run the small hydropower generator that gets me through the cloudy winter months. So there's a month of running the gas generator, at least part of the time. But from April to October, there's plenty of sunshine to keep my batteries charged. And my system is a relatively small one. I have 700 watts of solar power that cost me about $5,000 to purchase and install.My small power system is enough because I have taken several easy measures to keep my energy use within my means. Number one is to turn things off when they are not in use - this includes light bulbs as well as the plethora of electronics and appliances that sit around sucking up standby power. Seventy-five percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Across the US, this equals the annual output of 12 power plants and costs consumers over $1 billion each year. Buy some power strips so you can take back control over these "vampire loads."

Light bulbs are also crucial. Lighting is about 25 percent of US electricity use. Compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs use about one-third the energy of incandescent bulbs. I hear a lot of griping about compact fluorescents - the color is weird, they're not as bright, etc., and I don't understand it. I've been using them for ten years now and they have gotten so much better! The old ones were an awful blue color and they cost ten or fifteen bucks a piece. Now you can get them in a full spectrum of colors for less than two dollars. I don't miss incandescents a bit. Except for the sauna - don't put a CF bulb where it will get too hot, like a recessed lighting fixture. I'm going to get one of the LED bulbs for my wood-fired sauna.

My small power system won't allow me to run electric heat or air conditioning. I have a wood stove for heat that also supplies hot water in the winter, and I don't need air conditioning here in Oregon. I have a propane refrigerator, bought back before we added the backup gas generator. I may switch to a super-efficient, electric-powered refrigerator at some point. That leaves laundry. Luckily the other member of my household seems to enjoy the trip to the town laundromat. It's a chance to hang out at the bagel shop and socialize.

Does all this amount to a hair shirt? Am I suffering or do I feel deprived? No. When I need light, I have light. I've got a computer, phone and home entertainment whenever I want it. I stay warm and I eat good food. I have friends and neighbors who share my values. We eat home-grown vegetables, play home-grown music and celebrate life. [emphasis mine -- DeA] We eat (gasp!) granola.

That last paragraph I find very suggestive and thought-provoking indeed. When I need light, I have a light. (So much for shivering in the dark) I have a computer, phone, and home entertainment whenever I want it. (luxurious really, but also offers a connectedness that most of us would miss if we had to forgo it involuntarily). I stay warm and I eat good food is more than many/most of the urban poor could boast -- in fact the 'good food' part is more than perhaps a majority of inhabitants of N Am could boast, at this dismal point in food history. And I have friends and neighbours who share my values -- millions of apparently well-off people live in suburban cul-de-sacs where they don't even know the names of their neighbours, let alone what their values are or might be. This person has clearly got "something to be enthusiastic about," as well as the baseline of creature comforts.

When I consider what makes life enjoyable and worth living, or what hardships would make life tedious, enervating, and difficult, I find myself not far from this list; I would like light to read by, books to read, some kind of telecommunications (even if it is only a reliable paper mail service, but preferably phone and internet), perhaps some way of watching a movie or listening to some recorded music now and then. I'd like decent fresh food from a source I can trust. Clean drinking water. A safe place to sleep that is warm and dry in wet weather, and not too stifling in hot weather. A musical instrument or two. Some friends to hang out with. Decent clothing. A bicycle to extend the range of my mobility. Preferably some kind of mass transport network to which I could connect via my bicycle -- long haul rail, canal/river/ocean transport, etc. And of course, no matter how pleasant the neighbours and friends, I'd add to my list of "necessities" for a happy life three essentials: privacy, solitude, and quiet when I want them (though billions of people in this world never get to enjoy any of those three and some are dismayed by them).

If pressed harder I would admit to being a bit spoilt -- I'd like the materials to pursue hobbies and artistic interests -- paint and paper and brushes, ink and pens, some yarn to knit with. I'd like enough technology to keep my (mechanical) sewing machine going. I'd like guitar strings. These I think are luxuries, but modest luxuries compared to what we have become accustomed to. When I think about the consequences of attempting to maintain the resource-liquidating hyperconsumer lifestyle, the kind of world/regime which this implies or suggests strikes me as far less palatable than the modest and convivial affluence described above.

When I (among many others) suggest that downsizing our demands, being contented with less than the American Dream, is a better solution, I'm not asking anyone to freeze or starve -- or indeed to do anything I'm not willing to do (or already doing) myself. I sold my last car over 6 years ago iirc :-) I'm asking myself, every day, what I can put aside (or throw over the side) that I don't really need on this journey.

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Settling In -- Living with Energy Lite
Nomad

DeAnander asked What would it take to bring, say, my personal "lifestyle support budget" down to 4 acres?

As I outlined in the previous dialogue, the African Dream is really not that different than the American Dream. I concluded that the white community are in general blind to the unsustainability of their lifestyle - even when the SA interest in environmentalism is huge - and that black communities, still poverty-stricken, in their justified attempt to get to a higher rung on the economic ladder use the same-old unsustainable methods.

And I just recently learned that Johannesburg has suffered the same fate as Los Angeles, in respect that a perfectly fine tram system was uprooted to make space for bigger roads. But I wanted to stop despairing for a moment because the discussion really turned me to look inward - we can talk a lot about this, but as asiegel constantly reminds us: am I doing my part?

For the past weeks, I have been on the move again (living up to my handle) and was confronted similarly to my experience in Sweden: what are the bare bones in today's society? So I drew up a shopping list. It is not that different than DeAnander's list, and I used my South African experience to re-evaluate and Africanise my nomadic wish-list from Sweden.

(What I realized only later is that this is an exercise in breaking up the consumption components in sub-components - which strikes me for now as the most convenient/applicable approach for direct comparisons.)

Basic Ingredients:

  • Shelter

  • Bed

  • Potable water - for washing and drinking

So far, so good. I will ignore the source of my tap water for now (potable water is a genuine and increasing concern for the monstrous metropolis that is Johannesburg, and a diariable (I think that should be word) subject on its own).

Instead, I'll focus on those needs that will have immediate implications for my use of energy:

Heating:

Hot water - for my shower and my shave

Electricity:

For the living room:

    * for lighting
    * charging my cell phone
    * charging my laptop and powering my small portable set of sound-boxes

And sadly I've recently added:

    * My electric heater


Nomad's only source of heat

Insulation in South Africa is practically unheard of. Single glass pane is everywhere. Doors and windows always suffer draughts. The roof is generally an escape route for heat. A central heating system is a rarity even for the houses that are better off. Heated floors are very tentatively appearing but ever so scantly. So what can one really do as long as one is renting? Johannesburg is situated at 1700 meters above sealevel and it is winter. Temperatures drop off at the lower (Celsius) digits during the night - and that is without a major cold front blowing in from the Antarctic. Suffering stubbornly for 1.5 weeks in my 10 square meters room through the evenings was more than I could bear.

For the kitchen:

    * Electric stove
    * Fridge
    * Oven
    * Toaster
    * Kettle
    * Washing Machine

Again, this is not researched, but I'd risk betting that the above list is the current median household of South Africa. What else could be there:

    * Dishwasher

Apparently, Eskom, the national energy giant, is now broadcasting commercials that dishwashers are more environmentally friendly than washing up by hand. I think there should have been done some math on that which should be made available in public...   [DeA sez:  I kinda doubt that, unless they compare to the US-style dishwashing where the person washing up just turns the hot tap on and lets it run during the entire operation, washing and rinsing each dish under the stream of hot water.  I fill a tub with hot water and soap, wash all the dishes, then rinse them with cold in the other sink.  Total water about 1.5 gal of hot and 1.5 gal of cold, and I could do it with less if I were really tryin'.]

Thrown overboard are televisions, playstations, tumble-dryers, vacuum-cleaners (and in potentia also dish-washers) as long as my household doesn't drastically expand.

Two notes, the first on vacuum-cleaners. Even after over hundred years into their existence, most vacuum-cleaners are disturbingly loud to my taste. A good broom and mop actually clean more effectively because I pay more attention to what I am doing. Note, of course, that my current housing (without kitchen) is about 20 square meters.

Also some extra words on television: public news can be followed through the internet more and more, movies and television series can be spun as DVDs and the purchase of series episodes over the internet is on the march. Television is dead for all I care. But just for kicks, I want to know:

    * Television

Two more crucial items have been ignored for my current lifestyle: Transportation and Foodware. I may want to spend some time there later, but especially foodware is the trickiest one to properly unravel energy costs for as they are more hidden. A second follow-up, I think, should be on Energy from the Ground Up: how much energy does it take to build a average house nowadays in SA? What is the energy needed to produce bricks, for example? But that's for later.

I have one guilty pleasure to confess: I miss driving - because that's the only way to currently see the country here, and the clarion call of the mountains and countryside beckon me constantly. And the past week I caved and rented a car and had the immense satisfaction to briefly visit the Cradle of Humankind.

While my list narrowed, the question then rose whether even these "bare bones" in South Africa fits into the four acres of ecological footprint. So I first tested it at: www.myfootprint.org. This was not as helpful as I expected it to be, as the questions are not precise enough to carve out my exact lifestyle or put an exact energy figure on it. I also think the quiz is too limited in its scope to gauge the use of foodware. But taking that all into account I end up using 1.5 earths for my current lifestyle - disregarding my airplane use to get here.

So I visited Michael Bluejay (also regularly promoted by asiegel) and was able to fill in the following table:





ElectricityTime [hours]Kwh
Heating Water????
Living Room
Lighting70.42
Heater121.26
Cell Phone1??
Laptop30.45
Sound boxes1.5??
Kitchen
Electric Stove1??
Refrigerator24~2
Oven12
Toaster per time??
Kettle per time per litre2
Washing Machine20.16
Extra
Television2??
DVD player0??
Dishwasher0??
Total8.29

There are still values missing which I could not locate on Bluejay's site, but it already seems the kitchen and the heating are the larger energy vampires. Note, this is for the winter months in SA. I should better run this list for every season. I also should get myself a watt meter.

Question that stands: is there a site with estimates of energy use for your standard household electrical devices? It should not be hard to draw up a spreadsheet for comparative analysis between brands and year of origin for any electrical apparatus, especially now watt meters are around reasonably cheap.

For the most of Africa, I remain convinced the practical problem to address is to attain that median lifestyle with smart sustainable energy. To my mind, this is entirely feasible but the priorities of a country like South Africa are seemingly dedicated to completely other things.

As an addendum, I need to profess what kilos I did not bring to Africa and regretted:  My travel journals. Photo-albums. My mediocre collection/assembly of rocks and fossils. Books. Other CDs. Correspondence with friends, those still present and those long faded into the wilds of this world. Or, in other words: History in the shape of personal effects and heirlooms and my library, small as it is. I have already seen several comments on this forum expressing the same sentiment. What can one say when one is white and nerdy?

In conclusion, the challenges I now see for (South) Africa:

    * Re-fitting houses with floor heating from solar heat.
    * Insulation
    * Switching to more energy friendly apparatus.
    * Mobile and fast internet with satellite and WiFi, leapfrogging landlines.
    * Integrating VoIP and Internet Conferencing into the African business
    * Public transport needs development as well as a focus on high intensity energy cars. Not counting the fascinating taxi-system, public transport is short of miserable in Joburg, but as with anything in SA, in transition. The Gautrain is being dug as I type and as you read. There are plans for a monorail connecting Soweto with the Business District for the Gauteng province - but this was was apparently torpedoed by the minister of transport.
    * The embracement of Going Green in SA.

The question unanswered: is the above table (when complete) less or more than the 4 acres input for energy use? And secondly: what is the time frame needed in this modern world to actually get yourself sustainable?

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Where I am now, where I'd like to be a year from now
DeAnander:

I've been worried about peak oil and industrial pollution for a very long time, it seems -- from way back when it was a cranky outsider obsession, in fact it all really goes back to the 1970s, but that's too long a story... So let's start with where I am now: I live in a 1100 sf home built about 100 years ago -- not very solidly -- of wood. It is two storeys and was insulated in the 70s. The only heat is an old Night&Day wall heater (nat gas). The dryer is nat gas, as are the water heater and stove. The dryer and washing machine are electric (and ancient -- they were 2nd hand when I bought them in 1980 or so).   The fridge is about 8 years old and allegedly "energy efficient" but if I had my druthers (and were staying in this house) it would be a Sunfrost.  I have one small electric ceramic heater which is only used in the coldest winter days to heat up the bathroom. For many years I had a wasteful 50 gal hot water tank heater (most Americans still consider these primitive and profligate gizmos "normal") but when it finally died I shouted Hooray and replaced it with a Swedish-made on-demand nat gas heater, what in the UK we used to call a "geyser" -- unlimited hot water on demand, no tank -- basically a tame blowtorch pretending to be a kitchen appliance.

When I did the global footprint quiz, with my lifestyle at its current notch on the energymeter -- and that is without car ownership, which I should discuss in a separate diary, and flying less than 3 hrs per annum -- I was about at the 1.5 - 2 terron level. Not good enough!

However, my medium term plan (which has for 6 or more years been a long term plan, and is finally coming to fruition) is to quit the day job, move aboard my boat (a traditional junk rig design built in steel), and very sharply curtail my energy consumption and global footprint.  How will this work?

 Here's what life on the boat looks like as compared to life in a suburban home (albeit an old one).

Electricity: 2 200 Ah 12v batteries. 1 75w solar panel for routine charging, plus some miscellaneous other panels I've collected (flexible and waterproof, by UniSolar and other mfrs) totalling about another 100w. 1 KW (overkill!) inverter for running power tools. The batteries are now about 2 years old and should last another 5-6 years if not abused. Then they will need replacement -- perhaps with something a bit less filthy than lead/acid technology? In the meantime they are about as clean as you can get -- sealed AGM (glass mat).  There is AC power at the dock via extension cord but I plan to use it as little as possible even though it is not metered and is included in the slip fees (how much longer can that go on?)...

Water: 2 100 gal tanks. One foot pump in the galley. Hot water is made by heating it in a pan (I am considering a passive coil for the woodstove chimney).  I do not have a power watermaker and am not interested in owning such an energy-intensive, high-tech, frail gadget; I do plan to make or buy some kind of distiller for making fresh water from salt water, and possibly a solar still for summer use. When at the dock, I have potable water courtesy of the State (hey, government works).

Sanitary: one composting toilet (I tried this out at home for 2 years in order to familiarise myself with the idea and it was quite a success - if there is any interest I would be happy to write a diary about maintaining a clean and useable loo and a happy garden without a flush toilet).

Laundry: two options. pay per load at the marina laundromat if I am at the dock, or else wash by hand on board -- I own a washboard and have been selecting any new clothes with a view to quick drying :-)  Laundry at the 'mat costs about $3 CAN for wash/dry, one load.  I suspect this is below true energy cost.

Refrigeration: none. I am still dithering about this; in the last 3 years I have learned how to can (water bath and pressure), to pickle (both vinegar and lactofermentation), and various tricks for keeping produce fresh w/o a fridge. I may compromise by having an insulated cooler and buying ice in the summer; in the winter, with frost on the docks, all I need for a cooler is some space on deck :-)  [Note to self:  energy slaves substitute for knowledge and skill as well as time:  you have to have more skills to live with less energy consumption.]

Cooking: presently a propane tank and an old RV stove (most of the interior of this boat is recycled, which is one of the things I love about her). I am seriously considering converting to pressurised alcohol... cooking times are nearly as quick and it's a much less scary fuel, if more costly. A few years from now the price difference may not be so great. I have a Primus-type kerosene burner w/gimbal mount for backup and for cooking at sea, and one other option (to be mentioned in a moment). I have a hankering to own a solar oven, but the really efficient kinds are rather bulky (a big insulated box) and the folding ones are not very efficient, so there's an inherent conflict between the maritime requirement of minimal stowage space and the design params of a solar oven.

Heating (important at lat 48!): one diesel "drip pot" stove, one of the simplest combustion chambers known to industrial humanity; one tiny woodstove; one Petromax style kero lantern/stove. I plan to add an additional wood-burning stove in the forward cabin and am tempted to invest in a Tiny Tot coal-burner, but they are heavy and who really wants to carry anthracite on board?  The vessel is 40 ft LOA and 11 ft max beam with 2 to 3 inches of insulation throughout, so only a very modest heat source is needed to keep the main cabin very toasty indeed. One substantial chunk of driftwood, say about 15 inches long by 4 inches diam, when properly smouldering in the stove, will keep me nice and warm all night even on a cold and stormy evening. The main woodstove also doubles as a slow cooker in winter, being quite hot enough when stoked up a bit to cook soup, warm up leftovers, make toast, etc. I have a vague notion of installing a soapstone slab on the top to make it a functioning grille as well :-)

Lighting: Taz (the boat) came with incandescent (car-type) bayonet mount bulbs throughout, but I have replaced them with LED bulbs one by one. These have been a mixed bag -- some are simply not bright enough and I will replace them again with multi-LED flat panels with Luxeon emitters. They should have a good long lifetime and are far brighter than the first generation. My goal is to have no incandescents on the boat anywhere, including nav lights, by year's end.

Entertainment: you can't fit much onto a boat of this size, but I plan to have a laptop with a dvd drive (so I can rent or borrow and watch movies, or enjoy some from my own collection), and a tiny mp3 player, and battery-powered speakers of reasonable fidelity. Whether my full size guitar will survive in a maritime environment I don't know; I plan to keep a travel guitar on board for a year or so and see if it self-destructs before risking a good one. An internet connection is absolutely necessary (says this spoilt child of the computer cusp generation) and there is an informal WiFi network at the marina that should meet my needs; there are also internet cafes and WiFi for free at the local library.  [I paid a fair amt of money recently to have my entire audio cd collection reduced to mp3s, to fit on one small disc drive.  Wish I could afford to have my entire library converted to ebooks!]

Connectivity: cell phone and internet.

I plan to run all my electronics either directly off the house batteries, or off standard cells [as noted in some previous thread I never buy electronic gizmos that use custom proprietary battery packs, except the damn laptops where there is no choice]; I have a universal battery charger that charges and conditions every type of cell and runs off 12v, either from the house pack or a 15v solar panel (tested in mid summer I could recharge 20 NIMH AAs in the course of one long hot day, which is a lot of runtime for my camera, mp3 player, handheld VHF, etc.).  I have a large collection of standard cells (NIMH).

Boats this size mostly have motors (though some notable exceptions can be found in the literature) and despite Taz' massive sailplan and pretty good hull form I am not brave enough to go out on the rolling main w/o some kind of motive force in the absence of wind. Presently she has a wonderful museum piece, a Hercules D1X twin, date of mfr about 1944, with a Kermath crashbox that has already given me considerable grief. As diesels go it is a great engine, nearly bombproof and fairly conservative of fuel for its torque; but parts are made of unobtainium at this point and I don't really wish to be the curator of a floating museum. It is presently sulking, having eaten an injector which I can't replace despite much effort and research, so I face the problem of repowering in the greenest way I can.

I think this greenest-way will be a diesel-electric drive system using one of the newfangled waterproof sealed pancake motors from Sweden (the Thoosa system it is called when packaged as a turnkey kit). A little 3KW diesel DC genny from Ample Power, a 48v batt bank, and a Thoosa type system should be quite adequate for putting in and out of the harbour under battery alone, or for much longer distances running the genny. All the components are commodity, all are light enough for 2 people to lift, or for me to manage alone with a hoist, and my initial research suggests that torque for torque and HP for HP, I can expect to get 30 percent better fuel economy with the diesel/electric setup than with the old "beast in the bilge". The capital outlay is not small -- painful in fact -- but amortised over a cruising period of 10 years it is not outrageous; and short of a miracle technology coming over the horizon in the next six months, I think minimising diesel consumption may be the least of an array of evil choices.

Fuel (diesel for heating and engine): 110 gallons in 2 55 gallon tanks.

When I feed my proposed lifestyle V2.0 into the footprint calculators, I get an encouraging result: down to 1 terron at last!!  and without giving up anything that really matters very much to me. I enjoy living aboard, and it's not that hard to adapt to a lower energy consumption level (I already hang my clothes out to dry during all but the wettest part of the year, I wash dishes by hand and conserve water, etc). I am optimistic that the step from a 2 terron lifestyle to a 1 terron lifestyle will not be all that painful.  

What will I miss most?  Ummm, a large kitchen table (a large dry workspace, that is), and most of all... the luxury of a long hot bath.  But I have a Hostel International membership and if I really, desperately want a long hot bath I can bike over to the local hostel, rent the cheapest possible room, and take a bath :-)  [Note:  there's a reason why public bath-houses were an institution in all pre-fossil-fuel advanced (urban) civilisations:  the energy costs of long hot baths are too high to be borne by any but the most spectactularly wealthy individuals.]

However there are many unresolved energy conundrums (conundra??) : for how long will the high-tech components of boat maintenance remain affordable, such as oil-based sailcloth and cordage, oil-based bottom and topside paints, oil-based lubricants, diesel fuel, batteries, etc? What about the energy cost of aluminium, which I wish to use to replace old spars including the (rather large) masts? What if I need to run a small welder on board for minor repairs to the steel? Is my solar panel really adequate to the electric usage I plan? Should I buy a wind generator? If so, how do I size the wind generator, and how do I obtain one quiet enough not to drive my neighbours at the dock (and myself!) mad on windy nights? If I change the battery pack to 48v, what kind of stepdown and stepup transformers will I need to supply the house load and to charge from 12v sources, and how lossy are those transformers (how much energy will be wasted?) How much heat does it take to distill a gallon of potable water from seawater? To heat enough water for laundry? What if I want some kind of hot shower facility on my boat, what are my options and how energy-expensive would that be? Could I paint the bottom less often and hence conserve resources (yard time, crane time, toxic paints, power tools, hard labour) by diving frequently, and what is the energy cost of a small tethered dive setup like a Sea Breathe? And so on. At present I am too busy with the day job and preparations for the Big Move that I can't pursue the research and math to answer these questions, but I look forward to solving them one by one (and reporting on the results).

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Nomad responds:

The above questions verge into breaking up the subcomponents of consumptions components and are another matter of scale. It perhaps ties into the question I set out above - Energy from the Ground Up - how much energy is needed to actually built a house/flat nowadays? What is the energy cost of one brick? Paint? Solar panels? This is a territory I have long wanted to exploit, but find it impossible to jump at those energy levels at such precise scale.

Babysteps are currently the only possible outcome that I can see, while nurturing a cultural change without being tainted as tree-hugging, bark eating environmental fundamentalists. As Jerome and others have consistently repeated - we are not approaching the end of oil, we are approaching the end of cheap oil. Oil-based sailcloth, lubricants, paints and aluminium will be around for a long while - but at higher prices and costs.

Babysteps seem the only manageable methods to kick the habit in a world that has dug itself into such a deep rut of oil usage. I'd propose a systematic and piecemeal analysis of those applications before we break down the subcomponents themselves.

Poll
My lifestyle seems to be adding up to about....
. less than 1 terron 0%
. 1 terron 0%
. 1.5 0%
. 2 33%
. 2.5 16%
. 3 0%
. 3.5 16%
. 4 16%
. 4.5 0%
. 5 0%
. > 5 16%

Votes: 6
Results | Other Polls
Display:
My current pre-PV-system lifestyle according to MyFootprint.com adds up to 2.5 terrons, but I'm not sure how they got at the number.

First, repeating the test with energy self-supply choice doesn't change the result.

The number for mobility is the super-low one I expected, what really stands out (almost half of my footprint) is goods/services. But there weren't many questions (to be exact, there was one: on rubbish) that ask about my use of those. I think detailed questions on my purchase would definitely put me lower.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 07:03:38 AM EST
according to MyFootprint.com adds up to 2.5 terrons, but I'm not sure how they got at the number.

That's exactly the problem I currently have with the webpage - too opaque in the calculation and not specified enough for my taste.

I think ET can do better.

by Nomad on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 02:47:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's myfootprint.org

I use 3.3

Not the best quiz ever, no.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 11:14:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the topic of heating:
I find that I don't mind much if the place I live in is cold. An extra sweater and a blanket can do much to keep me warm enough in the winter. I like sleeping in cold rooms a lot and find little reason to heat my bedroom, except for the very coldest days. What I do want to get is an infrared directional heater to turn on when I get out of bed. I find the time between getting out from under my blankets to having my clothes on quite unpleasant in a cold room, and I can spend quite some time dreading to get up and having to confront the cold, which slows me down on cold winter mornings. Electric IR heaters are very nice if one only wants warmth for a short time in one spot. They irradiate you, rather than insisting on heating the entire room. Once I get one of these and set it to turn on 5mn before my alarm clock, I think my quality of getting out of bed in the winter will improve significantly.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 08:50:23 AM EST
The hard nut to crack is the one of getting people to "sacrifice" now so that people in the future will be better off.

There is no current mechanism that rewards those conserving in the present. Depending on altruism is a weak straw to grasp, there are many who think altruism doesn't even exist. (That is what appears to be altruism also provides a reward to the person making the sacrifice - even if it is only psychological.)

I think this realization is why most politicians who favor conservation promote the anticipated rewards of more profitability and business opportunities for green firms. This is still an appeal to growth not to consumption restraint.

People in the past have been asked by their leaders to make enormous sacrifices (think Londoners during the blitz, or the Great Leap Forward) because they were told that the sacrifices were necessary and noble. We have no such leadership currently.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 09:24:51 AM EST
is right on this page, so we have no excuse.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 11:09:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...to being a bit of a wastrel. I have electric heaters at home, though I like it about 17-18 C inside when it is -20 C outside. The heat goes off in May and comes on again in September. I have an electric sauna which I use for a couple of hours once a week, except for the summer when it might be twice a week - but that usually cleans more bodies than one.

I shower in the morning and it is fast. Our water is heated by a fairly efficient electric boiler in the cellar set at about 60 C. In my opinion it could be set lower - but there is a young kid upstairs. Laundry goes into a modern small washing machine set on the shortest setting at 40 C. Bed linen goes to a service. I have a half-size dish washer. I have no microwave and no oven. But I love cooking and make food from scratch every day.

All this is fairly reasonable, though the sauna is an expensive luxury. Then it gets more damning....

I have a small leased car, and, living in the countryside, would find it hard to survive without it, in my business. I live about 35 kms from Helsinki and often take the bus or train (leaving the car in the carpark) - but only if I have just one or two places to visit and no equipment to cargo. I go into town to work maybe once or twice a week, and very very rarely for recreation.

But then we have the equipment - and the only thing I can say in my defence, is that I work mostly at home and I would find it hard to continue to do what I do without the technology. There's some powerful computers, about a m2 of LCD screens, 2 DVDs, a VHS, a rather heavy sound system (c'mon - I was a record producer once), printers, and a UPS. Most of it is on all day, because I work all day and often through the evening. But, I admit, there is room for savings.

We do have a large compost which is used religiously April - October and I recycle everything (easy to do in Finland). We grow herbs only in the garden, but I wouldn't mind extending that to some non-staples. During the summer I buy quite a lot of local produce.

I do not have a newspaper, nor do I buy any magazines. But I do buy books. I am possibly the worst consumer in our village - the only toy I have is a PS2, now in a cupboard, from when the girls were younger. I rarely buy clothes - but when I do, I go for quality = durability. I do enjoy good wine and other natural substance abuse - the latter from local growers.

The last few years I have severely cut back on flying (mainly due to a change in the business i do), and make maybe one or two personal flights a year, and perhaps only 5 business flights. The rest is by ship to Sweden, or by train, bus or car within Finland.

Compared with most Finns, I have a small footprint (I believe). But that doesn't excuse anything. I sure use a lot of electricity. I've done the obvious things of switching to CF lighting, and  must start killing power whenever possible - so what is the next step?

I think the next step is to use what I know - my trade - to try to persuade others that there are simple 'baby steps' by which we, as a society, could save 10 - 20% of our energy consumption by thoughtfulness. At least it would be a start, and I wouldn't have to grow vegetables or become one. To this end, TGB and I continue to work on a TV format that might make some small contribution.

We will report on progress in due course - probably sometime in August.

Well that was good to get off my chest ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 01:06:38 PM EST
Our living situation is in flux so computing the current terron would be of limited value, and embarassing too boot.  

so I won't do it.  ;-p

The new-to-us house¹ is a two story adobe built in the 1910s so it's a real adobe with 20 inch (50.8 centimeters) thick walls.  That thermal mass is a real boon and keeps the interior temperature such that only minor energy input is needed to cool  (ceiling fans) and heat (wood stoves)the place.  Most so-called adobes being built now only use a half-brick as a facade.

A serious problem I faced when I started the re-model was the building codes.  The location is ideal for wind power and we really wanted to get 'off-grid.'  Alas, I would have needed (1) to get a variance which meant going before the county board (a bigger collection of buffoons t'would be hard to beat) and (2) spend $25,000 to establish the system.  

No go.

So I built the electrical system such that we can easily retro-fit to wind when we can slip it past the board and we have the capital.  

We will use propane for cooking and water heating.  I really wanted to put in a solar hot water heater but it would have taken a complete rebuild of the roof and a total retro-fit of the plumbing to do.  

We do have a well tapping the local water table.  Solar powered pumps are readily available so we intend to replace the current grid-based system and install solar to irrigate our gardens and orchard.  Along one south-facing wall I plan to establish pear, fig, pomegranate, peach, and cherry trees.  Pistachio trees will be planted.  I'm going to try to grow oranges, limes, and lemons.  They are marginal but hope is eternal.

We will put 4 raised gardens on the east side of the property.  A movable hoop greenhouse will be used for food production during the short winters.  I haven't decided where to put the herb garden but on the east boundary I plan to establish a rosemary hedge for privacy and as a source.  If our distillation equipment has survived the various moves - I haven't dared to look - we will be able to supply organic tinctures to the local herbalists as barter goods.

Less than an a half a mile (1 kilometer) away are two apple orchards.  They irrigate so I'm hoping to be able to talk them into letting us raise some baa-lambs on their grass.  We don't eat much meat so 4 lambs would more than cover that requirement.

Several people already raise chickens so we hope to be able to tie into that network.  I'd like to find someone who raises ducks, geese, and other 'exotic' poultry.  

No diary that we can find, dammitall.  Unless we can find someone, or talk someone into it, we're going to have to buy our milk and milk products: butter, cheese, yoghurt, kefir, & etc.  mumble-grumble  We prefer sheep's milk, that's past hoping for.  Goat's milk is seasonal and only at obscene prices.  Jersey moo-juice is third and in many years haven't found a supply of that either. We can't even purchase a cow and have it miked for us.  I guess the state of New Mexico is afraid we'll turn into IslamoCommieTerrorist cheesemakers.  "Submit to our demands!  We have mozzarella balls² and we're not afraid to use them!"  So it looks like we're going to be stuck buying that damnable, watery, tasteless, Holstein garbage.  

The point here -- what is the point? -- oh yeah ...

Our Terron rating will be bad from an energy demand/use standard but we should more than make that up on the food supply side.

¹  The place is huge.  The house is over 4,000 square feet on six large lots.  The purchase price was well below $30k.  It needed much work but we were able to buy it so cheaply only because my fellow Americans are insane.  Also we got lucky - we found out it was for sale before anyone else and made our offer quick, quick, quick.

²  Sounds like a "social disease" don't it? "Not right now, dear.  I have mozzarella balls." ;-)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 02:31:05 PM EST
wonderful diary, folks...

the long tail addressed here...jerome's doing the heavy lifting at the short head...

i hope to have lots to share over the next few months, with the installation of minimum 2.5 kw of pv panels, and possibly a add-on greenhouse to help heat in winter.

i also need to install/build water containers to store rainwater and solar-pumped water from the well, to water plants and trees. using water that's too cold fresh from the well is not good for them, plus it just feels right to catch more rain.

just got a a++ rated new fridge/freezer, and have ordered a woodstove which will heat the water in winter, the whole house, and provide an oven for casseroles and bread.

am getting permit to build outside pizza oven.

there ai so much free wood to burn, it makes sense to use it, plus the old method of piling brush and burning it seems wasteful, and in summer is illegal, obviously.

i bought an electric shredder, but have used it only a little, as it pulls 2 kw, and i want to get that juice coming from the sun before i get it going bigtime.

having tried it out, i'm really happy with its ability to create instant mulch from branches up to 4cm wide, excellent for aerating compost piles too. this will be a huge benefit in my soil building, and will make short work of sunflower stalks too.

sunnies grow really well...as in: toss seeds out onto untilled ground and have them come up, but in tilled soil and with watering they thrive like crazy.

apart from usefulness in appetite-suppressing healthy nibbling, a hydraulic press could provide me with good oil, for eating, massaging and even for running a tractor.

i don't hardly use the tractor a few days a year anyway...

monday an bio-engineer is coming to spec out the property for all the potential, and he confirmed that there are some very favorable new laws in the pipeline, to encourage solar energy farming and for add-on greenhouses.

i was just about to plonk down 30% of the solar panel money, had a flash to call a friend, who turned me on to this engineer.

...who told me the panels i was about to buy (chinese) lasted half as long as the ones he sold (german), which also produced up to 5 times the power!

cost a bit more, and he wouldn't be pinned over the phone to the percentage diff.

besides he was raving how i wouldn't have to put out any capital, and good get paid to produce with others' investment, with immediate unlimited free electricity from now on..

will sift through all this new info added to the soup tomorrow and report.

i have a small 5m day-sailboat moored on the lake half an hour's drive away i can sleep out on in the summer, it's fun to go out to the nature preserve bird sanctuary on isola polvese and camp out, as no-one lives there, and all you hear is the beat of big wings, the lapping of the water and the wind in the trees...

so i may be able to generate some extra income renting out the house summertime, and stay down on the water, which makes the ever-warming summers a lot easier to handle.

some great info, thanks, people

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 09:06:56 PM EST
Wondering which language to write "Wow" ... honestly, too tired to do justice in reading this but will return to this (hopefully time and again).

Thank you.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 11:34:25 PM EST
I'm sure this idea has been brought up on Eurotrib at some point in the past, though I mention it here because it's a new thought to ME, anyway, so:

One way of getting people to reduce their water/gas/electricity use would be to determine a "mean" usage for a household based on the number of occupants, period (NOT square footage or anything else.)  Then if a household used less than the mean, they would pay a smaller rate for that useage (gallons, KwH, etc) but if they used more than that average, they would pay a higher rate, and if they used a LOT more than the average, they would pay a much higher rate for it.

Same thing should apply to car size.  I know in some places people have to pay a tax on their vehicles based on the weight of them, and this should be universal as well, I think.

(We've gotten our electrical consumption down to about 700 KwH per month.  I don't even know if that's very good.)

Nothing new, I suppose, but please don't troll rate me.

Karen in Austin

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 11:33:19 AM EST
(We've gotten our electrical consumption down to about 700 KwH per month.  I don't even know if that's very good.)

700 kWh a month? Well, it's high. In Europe, 3500 kWh a year (slightly below 300 kWh a month) is considered a rule-of-the-thumb household consumption, though I know that the US average is something likje the double. But maybe you aren't average -- how many persons, how many and how big televisions, do you have AC or electric heating?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 01:17:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have electric air conditioning (a term which really means "cooling" here, as there's not a lot of need for heating) and we keep the thermostat at 79 degrees F when at home.  We have one 32" screen tv.  We added insulation to the "attic" (not much attic in our house, just a bare crawlspace).  There's a ceiling fan in every room. Almost every light bulb in the house is a compact fluorescent, and we turn the lights out when not in use.  

Our house is 1600 square feet, but the guest bedroom is closed off from the cooling when not in use.  We have a large freezer that helps preserve all the things we grow in our garden, and things we get at a good price at farmers' markets.  It supposedly uses 670 KwH per year, according to the label.  There are just two of us living here, though we get lots of visitors and the grandchildren are here a lot.

The usage is lower in "winter" when the cooling is not  as necessary as during the rest of the year, and we heat and cook with natural gas, though we probably don't turn the heat on more than 10 days during the whole winter.

Though not a mechanic by trade, my husband loves to work on autos and motorcycles and to build things and is the guy everyone turns to when they have car/mc trouble, and many of his tools are powered... maybe that accounts for some of the consumption?  And the windows on our little 1950's house are not double-glazed, but we can't afford to replace them just now, so that might be where we lose cooling.  

I'll be keeping an eye on suggestions in all the diaries, though, and other sites, for ways to bring the usage down.  Thanks for the flow of information!

Karen in Austin

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 09:06:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
has been suggested in the Netherlands - and immediately scoffed at - but there are now agencies who offer the service to determine a house's energy usage and report back with recommendations.

Your thought seems to determine what is nowadays a good standard for energy usage - which opens a whole extra can of worms. It may have been suggested before, but surely sensible. I will be busy developing the spreadsheet further, looking for other material and querying other people to do likewise. If there isn't a standard yet, let's develop one.

by Nomad on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 02:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hi nomad, thanks for this great diary.

are the pix fixed? still not coming through, is it a dialup thang?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 05:35:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
are coming through here, I only added two pictures: one of my heater and the one on the very end. I think some admin mojo was already released to fix the problems during the weekend - my thanks to those Powers That Be (whomever they are).
by Nomad on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 06:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am so happy, proud, amazed and excited by these examples, I don´t know what to say!  Inspired and envious too, that your plans are so much farther along than mine.

My footprint right now may be 2, but I resist calculating it and I try to live by guidelines I make up as I go along.  No dishwasher, no dryer, no vacuum (no carpet), no car, no ironing!, almost no chemicals, heat only the living room (and morning shower) in the winter, bring no "stuff" into the house, but food and drink...

I have a long ways to go to a sustainable, rural community life.
 

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 11:44:49 AM EST
bring no "stuff" into the house, but food and drink...

I am still having a hard time with that one, myself... always sorely tempted by yarn shops, thrift shops, sales on art materials (online or in shops), tools, books, movies I like on DVD... we all have our vices and I have often succumbed to the one called "buying yourself toys and goodies to make up for spending 40-60 hrs a week working for someone else."  but after retirement I'll have to watch my expenditures closely and that will cure that particular pathology, real fast :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 05:40:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seems like it's taken forever to get this far, and the further i get, the more i realise there is that one can do.

so excited to meet this eco-engineer tomorrow!

it sounds like you're pretty conscious about lightening your load on the planet to me.

the best thing is, it's fun!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 8th, 2007 at 08:14:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still cannot see those tinypic urls...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 07:10:04 PM EST
me neevah...oh well, seen one heater, seen 'em all.

signore bio-edilizia came today, and stayed for lunch.

he explained that italy is so behind on its commitments to renewables, that it's up for a hefty fine in 2010 unless things shift rapidos.

he was the wired type, zinging on several espressos, i'd guess, which always has a reverse effect on me...first i try to get a word or two in edgeways, it's supposed to be a dialogue, i thought, then i gave up and let him gush, while i tried to figure him out.

basically he's the 'fixer', it appears, taking cuts for putting the links together, and engineering the overview.

as usual, in italia, things look very positive, at first, but time has a way of revealing flaws in the reasoning, skipped over in the high adrenalin.

'now', he said, 'is the time in italy to get rich on solar.'

'incentivi' up the yin-yang, 'finanziamenti' a gogo, please tell as many people as possible...

so i told the guy in the tile shop i bumped into later on, who's building a warehouse and was just about to order a roof, slipped him the cell number, and felt like this is the new tupperware...

i don't know whether to laugh or cry.

basically over 20 years, with some land turned over to install 20 kw -using the bank's money- i will be paid €500,000.

all this with no electric bills whatsoever...

i said 'what's to stop people going crazy using electricity to heat every room, their water, leave the lights on all night etc?'

he gave me a twinkly look, and said: 'that's the idea!'

yup, same reaction here...it's gotta be a crock, right?

tune in to the next thrilling episode, sometime soon at a blog near you.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 07:44:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to hear the disappointment, but checking all options and pitfalls you will hopefully save on costs and then, if you don´t write a guidebook you can be a local expert!  

It´s frustrating that good plans take so long and discourage people.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 at 03:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i have long given up on people being calm, sane, rational and service-orientated here...

however... i love this country, and share deeply in its aspirations.

i actually wasn't disappointed, except by the one-way nature of the conversation, if what he says is true, and i am coming round to believing it may just be crazy enough to be so, given the italian realities.

here i am trying to keep the woods from invading the rest of the land, and he was telling me to stop heating with wood, it's dirty, noisy work harvesting and splitting it, and i could do as well with a heat pump and everything running off the sun.

part of me agrees with him, as chainsawing is my least favourite activity after dentists...

but i love heating my house and water with wood, that grows right here especially.

tight cycles...

it feels mostly odd, because i've been training myself to use as little electricity as possible, and here's this knowledgeable guy, telling me the opposite.

still waiting for the silent, vibration-free laser chainsaw to be invented!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 at 09:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No here are some people getting real...
The UK could cut carbon emissions to zero in 20 years, but only if people accept a virtual end to air travel and stop using fuel-driven cars, a report claimed yesterday.

    Meat would also need to disappear off many menus and an "armada" of wind turbines would be required to be built around the coast to achieve the goal, according to the new research.

    Money would meanwhile be overtaken in importance by carbon credits traded by everyone using special smart cards.

    The radical vision was put forward by researchers and scientists from the Centre for Alternative Technology (Cat) and was announced as details were revealed of the UK's longest protest march to call for action on climate change.

    The 1000-mile trek around the UK will take in 70 towns and cities and involve an estimated 50,000 people.

    The scientists from Cat set themselves the task of seeing if the UK could cut fossil fuel emissions to zero by 2027.

    They claim achieving such a drastic cut in emissions is possible and may be the only way to tackle climate change.

    Paul Allen, the development director of Cat, said: "What we are saying is that we need a huge programme, a bit like the US space project in the 1960s.

    "When that was launched it was known to be a huge target, but the driving force to make it work was there. We think that zerocarbonbritain can do that again; it can give us a positive future."

    In its report, CAT suggests people would be given their own carbon credits called Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) and carry them on the environmental equivalent of the London transport Oyster card. Each year the free allocation would decrease as the country moves towards zero carbon, with the effect that the value of the quotas will go up.

    But every time consumers use fossil fuels, say by filling their cars up with petrol, they would lose valuable credits, forcing them to choose low carbon alternatives.

    The resulting market would drive environmental change, providing the economic incentive to produce green products. One major effect, according to the authors, would be that electric, battery-operated cars would quickly overtake use of the internal combustion engine.

    Households would be forced to invest in ways to make their homes energy efficient, and switch from gas to biofuels or renewable electricity.

    But there would also be "negative" effects in terms of the lifestyle that people currently enjoy.

    Air travel would become far too expensive unless the industry "pulls something out of the hat" and finds a green fuel.

    And the diet of the country would have to change to include far more organically-grown, locally-produced vegetables, and less meat.

    Tens of thousands of wind turbines would be built, mainly around the UK's shores, to provide 50% of the country's new energy needs.

    The rest would come from a combination of biofuel "combined heat and power" stations, wave power, hydroelectricity and tidal schemes.

    Meanwhile, walkers from around the world are preparing to embark on what organisers believe will be the UK's longest protest march to call for action on climate change.

    Campaigners will set out from Northern Ireland next Saturday on a 1000-mile trek around the UK taking in 70 towns and cities, finishing at the London Stock Exchange 11 weeks later.

    An estimated 50,000 people are expected to join the walkers at different points, gathering signatures for a petition calling on Gordon Brown to bring in a new law forcing companies to reveal their carbon dioxide emissions.

and the usual suspects proposing too-little-too-late self-serving bandaids.


    In another move to tackle climate change, Boeing has unveiled its new "green" 787 Dreamliner aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce engines. The 250-seat plane will fly for the first time this autumn and will go into passenger service in May 2008.

    With Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the Dreamliner is 25% British-made.

    Boeing boasts that the plane will use 20% less fuel per passenger than similarly sized aircraft, will produce fewer carbon emissions and will have quieter take-offs and landings.

wow, a 20 percent reduction, I'm so [not] impresssed.

game over -- reset... one way or another.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 07:26:22 PM EST
first word shoulda been Now, not No

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 07:27:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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