I just left this comment on a thread on the PickensPlan. A guy wrote to me about all of the little things we can do to save energy - turning out lights is a start, plus a hundred other things we can/must start doing to individually save energy.
Here is my comment back...
I definitely agree that there are a multitude of "little things" we all need to be doing to reduce our individual energy consumption. But, I would actually like to see someone run the numbers. Turning off lights and tweaking the t-stat a few degrees one way or the other is one thing, but I fear that true, meaningful savings will only be achieved by drastic, monumental, incontrovertible, involuntary, inevitable means.
There are simply not enough resources on this planet/blue marble for everyone to have/use unlimited power. How much silicon and other potentially toxic raw materials does PV manufacturing require? What of our primitive battery technology? Are there toxic waste streams that will be generated from solar PV, battery storage and wind turbine manufacture of the gigantic scale that will be required to fuel the world? T
The wastes/risks of nuclear power are known. Nukes supply 15-20% of our power in the U.S. now. What if we go to 80% like France? What if the entire world goes to 80% nuke sourced? Has anyone run the numbers on how much yellowcake this possibility would require? Has anyone run the numbers on how much radioactive waste this will produce, how many millions of hectares it will require world-wide to store it? If we are using vast amounts of land to store radioactive waste, how does that impact arable land and world food production? How can we be sure water supplies will be safe for 10,000 years, and not tainted by radiation?
Perhaps we are on the crux/flux of a new technological/intellectual/scientific era, but the absence of real education even in the United States will likely preclude that. Even though we humans think we are pretty smart, and can put a man on the moon, we collectively have done some pretty stupid things in the past 100 years, like becoming dependent on the internal combustion engine, polluting our oceans to the point of impacting fisheries and the natural balance of ecosystems in a major way, just to name a few. Not to mention global warming.
Who knows? I suppose we must all start taking baby steps.
I see two really, really big things we need to start the ball rolling on post haste - education and birth control - worldwide.
Without those two, we are doomed.
There are simply too many people. Too many stupid people.