The Other I

July 9, 2009

Climate change #5

Filed under: Environmental Issues — theotheri @ 2:51 pm

In an attempt to estimate the size of the world’s energy needs in fifty years or so, I’ve been trying to find out how the current energy usage in the developed world compares to that of emerging economies.   Here are a few figures – without accompanying adjectives:

  • The developed world has about 20% of the the world’s population;
  • it uses 6 times as much energy as emerging economies;
  • Within the next 20 years, world energy consumption is expected to rise by about 44%.
  • Within 40 years, global population is expected to have increased by 30%.

It looks to me as if the only way to look at these figures and avoid the conclusion that we have a mega-challenge in relation to our energy consumption is to revert to pre-scientific, if not irrational, reasoning.

I’m not without hope.  In a way, I think it’s a terribly exciting time to be alive.  Maybe even to be young.  But solving this problem is going to require something more than turning off lights we’re not using.

I’m not sure a blog is the best way for me to tackle an issue as huge and complex as climate change.  I do think there is an urgent need for the problems and solutions to be presented in a way that makes them comprehensible to people who don’t have time to take an entire course, but whose involvement is going to be critical.

So at some point I may give up the blogging format and write a book like The Big Bang to Now which I wrote to make all of time comprehensible to people like me who don’t routinely deal with numbers much bigger than 10,000.   It’s not that the market necessarily needs yet another book on climate change.  I just may need to write it.



  1. “It’s not that the market necessarily needs yet another book on climate change. I just may need to write it.”

    Climate change is such a hot topic right now, I think the market would eat it up. And the world at large needs your point of view. 🙂


    Comment by jooliedee — July 19, 2009 @ 2:19 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your encouragement. Right now I’m preparing a textbook edition of The Big Bang to Now. When that’s finished, I’m still thinking that climate change is something I need to write about, and knowing that there just might be space in a crowded market will make help my motivation in the yes direction.
      Hope you are doing well these days yourself. THS


      Comment by theotheri — July 19, 2009 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  2. Well, good news/bad news.
    If your starting point is the “big bang” then you will find that our planet has had several major fluctuations in its history.
    Some cold, some hot.
    That’s the good news…that there IS precedent for your book.
    The bad news is, for some reason or other too many people seem to think that dismisses the clamor to consume energy, resources, and creating a sensible system of living…
    It flies not.
    And for that, I’m sorry to admit I am a member of the human race, a group that seems narrow mindedly engaged in bringing our own kind to destruction.

    Well, now, THAT’S not very positive minded of me!
    And I really am trying to be more positive about things.
    Oh well…
    Go get the brass ring! I’ll certainly be someone who will read your book when it has been published.


    Comment by maxwelldog — March 2, 2010 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I’d like to say that I am a member of that small minority who resides above the rest of the human race living in a developing country and that my carbon footprint is smaller than everybody else’s. But I am rather more like the way you describe yourself. Perhaps neither of us actually “narrow mindedly” engaged in the destruction of our species, but I haven’t given up my car, central heating, refrigerator, or eating meat. I am not clothed in robes of virtue.

      I am overwhelmed by what I am learning about climate change, however. Not with the knowledge that climate has changed drastically in the past – sometimes as the result of the very organisms which have inhabited the planet in the past. And major extinctions have occurred often enough to give only the most irrational any belief that it could not happen to homo sapiens. Because, as you suggest, the problem isn’t just global warming. It’s global pollution and increasing deficits of water and food and even oxygen. Not to mention the worrisome acidification of the oceans.

      On the other hand, I am sometimes encouraged by the quite incredible ingenuity of humans with their backs to the wall. There are all sorts of alternative energies out there. I would love to live long enough to at least get a glimmer of a seriously disruptive technology that displaces oil and coal.

      The book is getting out of hand — I’m learning too much and realizing that the black hole of what I don’t know is too big to traverse with my finite abilities. Once I finish the second edition of The Big Bang to Now, I’m going to have to narrow my focus. Thank you for the encouragement, though. It will make it harder to jump ship.


      Comment by theotheri — March 3, 2010 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  3. Two people to put an eye on, funny as this will sound,
    Ed Begley, jr.
    and his neighbor
    Bill Nye (the science guy)

    They compete for the least footprint.


    Comment by maxwelldog — March 3, 2010 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

    • Oh do tell me more! what are you doing to compete? I’ve been to your blog, but the parts of it I’ve read aren’t providing any hints. Terry HS


      Comment by theotheri — March 3, 2010 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

  4. Holy cats. The political blog…
    It started as a joke on blogger. First Farm and Weather Report was me joking another artist about not wanting to battle a tornado to go to an art show.
    Somehow it grew.
    When President Obama first got into office? I wrote my congratulations to him…and then about a dozen concerns I had, a fair amount which covered energy and energy saving over a long period of time.
    Has he ever read my e-mail? His statement is that he reads ten a day, top to bottom, and replies as necessary.
    And what would any of those suggestions be?
    You’re about to enter the mind of a primitive kind’a guy, so, here we go.
    I find it funny the billions spent on interstates don’t include some common sense items.
    Putting the restrooms in the center median provides a rest stop, a place to turn around (without the illegal u-turn) and at half the cost of maintaining two rest areas every where.
    A bike path. Just a simple strip of asphalt, concrete, whatever, so that a bicyclist could use the interstate.
    A horse path.
    Now we’re talking “dirt cheap” because that’s basically all it would have to be. And it would also serve well for when there are accidents that are major foul-ups on interstates.
    That turbine and solar panels aren’t used much in this country isn’t so odd sounding.
    We, as a nation, consume 25% more energy for nothing other than “wheeee, ain’t this fun?” stuff. ATV are legal?!
    Every bit as legal as Brent’s wife (who lives down the road from us) hopping in her Dodge Ram tough, two story truck, driving 14 miles to the nearest town for beer and cigarettes and lotto tickets (probably while texting and putting on make-up at the same time)(I’m not using a ‘broadbrush’ here…that’s what she does. Seen it way too often)
    and then race back home to watch LOST on TV.

    Me? heck, I do have a truck, to haul wood with, but it’s a ford ranger. Small. Not too mush better than 32 MPG, but, close. But, as one can discern, there’s no furnace here. Wood stove (sits out into the room) and dang do we get popular when the electricity goes down during big storms.
    Most everyone else has generators.
    We have candles and a stove.
    Cook, heat, and such.
    Read instead of tv (a great way for the brain to relax is a good book. TV is too confusing with their constant barrage of commercials…
    My own personal mission is becoming the same as Will Roger’s.
    “We only have a short time here. Get all the good laughs you can.”
    And, it sounds good. Although right now I’m aware that there is a limit as to how much I can say…
    this is exactly what it sounds like…silly stuff I find on the internet
    and then there’s
    I would love an APTERA, a hybrid selling in California and Texas right now, gets 300 MPG.


    Comment by maxwelldog — March 3, 2010 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

    • Hey, these are some good ideas! especially the rest areas in the middle. We have one or two over here in the UK, but I never thought of them as energy savers.

      When I need to turn my bad days into good ones I shall return to gatorfeedingtips. Laughing is the only thing as good as a good book.

      Okay, we have solar lights, a woodburning stove that sticks out into the room, double-glazing, thermal blinds plus thermal-lined curtains, and a voltage meter reader that makes me feel guilty every time I warm up the bathroom with an electric heater. Who makes the APTERA? I seriously think my engineer brothers are going to want one. Though one of them used to work for GM…


      Comment by theotheri — March 4, 2010 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  5. (also known for his diarrhea of ideas coming forth in great gushes…)
    This year I plan on spending my art show money on a turbine magneto set.
    It will be small, but should provide enough electricity for at least three room of light at any given time.


    Comment by maxwelldog — March 3, 2010 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

    • You sound like my brother who lives in Michigan. He’s willing to spend ten times the money it saves to find another ingenious way of reducing his energy bill. Spray insulation in his loft (well, it’s an attic in Michigan), induction cooker, DIY solar heating. He even works at saving on water which he says is completely unnecessary in his part of Michigan. He visited us here in Cambridge, England and gave me advice on insulation. His standards were so high that I couldn’t hire anyone to do it, so I had to do it myself. We are now insulated at about twice the required standard for new builds.

      What is a “turbine magneto set”? If I can’t use it over here, at the very least I must get my revenge and tell my Michigan brother about it.


      Comment by theotheri — March 4, 2010 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  6. turbine magneto systems are pretty much the only way to do it in this part of the country.
    Same with anywhere that have wind gusts of over 30 MPH.
    Being in Indiana, when I first saw a propeller, I thought it was cool. I knew there was electricity being made, but, I was curious about the maintenance.
    Sure enough, one day I went by and the prop was wrecked. Self destructed.
    Propellers have to be mounted high off the ground, and the connection is such that a slight variance in mechanics will create a large “wobble”, usually fatal.
    There’s pictures of the incident on youtubes and the like.
    Footage of the prop tagging itself then beating itself down to nil.
    A turbine, for all intent and purposes, looks like a turban (hat) but, because it is a blade receptacle instead of propellers, it’s stability is more assured.
    They DO need adjusting by a professional, too, but, way less often.
    In Indiana, the optimum would be turbines on the roof (probably three along the peek, and solar panels that are timed to tracking the Sun, probably eight to ten full sized panels 9they make them really cheap out West right now…another failing of our present President, but then, it’s obvious that the problem at hand has his full attention.
    (Anyway..sorry. Politics not withstanding, the concept of conservation pretty much has to come from us. That might just make a good post…)
    meanwhile, geo/thermal is also an unbelievable winner, especially with the house on using minimal energy, also a piece of the puzzle.
    I have an ex-sister in law, God love her. She was on the front lines of keeping nuclear out of Indiana. Good move, Betz!
    But then again, lifted ceilings, a stereo set-up that would rock the barn out back, way excess electrical use out back for the horses and way too much set up for decorations for parties.
    An electric pencil sharpener.
    Thing is, I heard the other day that both the sites had been bought and sold twice, each time more expensive.
    Have to ge=uess that if alternative doesn’t get in fast enough, we’ll fall to the nuclear crap producers, too.
    oops…hit a nerve, did we?
    I know only some minor basics about nuclear. Nothing good.
    We pull more out than we use because the grade is important. Low grade gets set aside.
    #1 Individual prospectors still mine the stuff out, usually at their own detriment
    #2 The by product is stored in dumpster type containers stacked two high in the desert.
    That which is good grade is sent to places with no windows and only one door. (just an analogy…probably has two doors and a garage entrance for large trucks)
    Refinement and use are out of my league. I’m a ground floor kind of guy, have seen how men work to an end goal.
    But that’s where this story goes…waste material.
    This stuff is nasty grade. The kind of stuff that Chernoble and Three Mile Island folk know about.
    Bad, fast burns, lesions with contact.
    Breatj it, lungs.
    The nature of radiation is its best and worse part all at once. It is radio-active, which means it is contributing hundreds, thousands of nuclear “bits” around..randomly flying through everything but lead or fifteen feet of concrete.
    People are way susceptible to the radiation.
    And it lasts for tens of thousands of years.
    That last being the most horrific news of it.
    Tens of thousands of years.
    Dang. That’s longer than any building presently on Earth has existed. And the halfway that amount are looking pretty shaky.
    Dang it.
    I do tend to “go off” on some things. Sorry.
    Uh, insulating is never enough of a deal, either.
    You did good no matter what you think.
    Sounds like attic work, and by hand?
    That must have been brutal.
    I was in that very business for a quarter century.
    Longer, I guess. Started in 1976. Probably should go back to just that, as my paintings don’t fetch much for a living.
    Anyway, good ceiling insulation is good.
    If you find a need to “get into your wall” say for running new wires? (presumably for the new thermostat for your solar heater unit) then inside or outside wall, moxnix. Insulate it. Friction fit if you can for the inside. 3 1/2 inch is fine.
    Outside walls consider running a two by two along every other stud and put in 6″ insulation (kraft with the paper inside is fine) but if that is too far out, then 3 5/8 inch, or R-13. kraft saves you from having to visqueen, plus, you retain some breathing for the walls, which is better than a total seal.
    Did i mention I also suffer from TMI-itis?
    What’s a turbine?
    sorry…bit off topic, eh?


    Comment by maxwelldog — March 4, 2010 @ 6:54 pm | Reply

  7. I agree with you about the perils of nuclear. The potential for catastrophic accidents not to mention deliberate sabotage are terrifying. But some really really smart people thing it’s our only mid-term solution. I do wish Congress would pass a carbon-trade bill.

    Well, I’m a cognitive psychologist who is trying to inform myself about our environmental alternatives. You are miles ahead of me. I’ve never heard of “friction fit” and being spared having to “visqueen” is an even more impenetrable mystery. We have cavity insulation in some of our exterior walls, but I think an additional wing was added after the initial insulation was put in. I don’t really know how to find out short of drilling a hole and then when I confirm my suspicions, the only thing I know to do is to call in a professional. Cavity insulation is really the only aesthetic alternative. I’m eager to learn – even if the only benefit is that I’m better able to tell whether the “professional” knows what he’s talking about.

    Be interested in hearing your assessment of my blog post today – March 5. Especially about Bloom Energy.

    Hope you’re having a good day over there.


    Comment by theotheri — March 5, 2010 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

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