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Why aren't we there yet?

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Bob Lacovara
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re: Why aren't we there yet?
Bob Lacovara   6/9/2010 2:26:44 PM
"Why aren't we there yet?" is a question that poses an inner question: "Where are we going?" I am not being cutsie, I'm going to pose a legitimate engineering question. That is, given estimates of fossil fuel supplies, nuclear fuel supplies, and reasonable conversion efficiencies between sunlight and wind conversion factors, how much energy can be consumed by one person on the planet? That is, what's the budget for energy per person? Of course, the next question is, what is the actual per capita energy expenditure? Like Mr. Micawber, I note that: available energy 1000 joules per day, expenditure 999; result: happiness. Available energy 1000 joules per day, expenditure 1001; result: misery. Where are we? Readers will note that the per capita calculation depends on a denominator: the number of people using energy. This value, reduced, makes things easier. Increased, harder. The truth of the matter is that the value is virtually uncontrolled, so we can just put down "7 billion" and forget it for the moment. It boils down to this: what energy is available, how much of it do we demand to be from sustainable resources, can we get past the Luddite mentality towards nuclear power (the French have no problem with it, and the reactors are US designs) and what do we do if we are using too much? Can you imagine the screaming from Marin County, CA, USA, and Alpine, NJ, USA, if told that their per capita energy consumption must be cut by 35%? Actually, there'd be no screaming, because it would never come to that, politically. Instead, the cost of energy will rise until supply and demand reach an equilibrium. Still, I'd love to know what my share of the energy pool is "mine".

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