Published on [Permalink]

“Everyone is now chasing power. They are willing to look everywhere for it.”

Call me an old-fashioned luddite (I will smile, nod, and agree), but even a little talk of the practical need — let alone the moral obligation — to consume less, to use less energy, seems conspicuously missing from many of these conversations.

I’d love to see an updated calculation like the one Geoffrey West gave in 2010:

A human being at rest runs on 90 watts. That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food. So how much energy does our lifestyle [in America] require? Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts. Now you can ask yourself: What kind of animal requires 11,000 watts to live? And what you find is that we have created a lifestyle where we need more watts than a blue whale. We require more energy than the biggest animal that has ever existed. That is why our lifestyle is unsustainable. We can’t have seven billion blue whales on this planet. It’s not even clear that we can afford to have 300 million blue whales.