Thursday, September 11, 2008

Green Revolution

Energy= the capacity to do work

Power= Rate of energy generation over time.

The past 150 years have been the age of petroleum oil, before that, it was oil harvested from whale blubber. Beginning with the industrial revolution, our country and the world as a whole has been hypnotized by petroeum's high energy output and it's versatility. Virtually everything you touch has oil in it.

I caught a great interview on Tuesday night on the Charlie Rose Show. It was with Thomas Friedman, author of the best selling books: The World is Flat and The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

Charlie was interviewing Friedman about his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

With energy taking center stage on the minds, wallets, and media across the globe, it's great to see a writer digging deep into one of the most important issues of our time: ENERGY.

This guy is a fireball. He is a passionate, intelligent communicator who knows what the hell he's talking about. He takes aim at taboo topics like how are national infrastructure is crumbling, while every town and village in America has their own SWAT team. I was watching the news this morning and reminded of three different bridges (around Boston) that are in such bad shape that the state has reduce speed limits and limit the weight on the bridges.

Friedman makes the point that since 911, America has lost it's edge and become a country in slow decline, "the worst kind of decline". He sights the green revolution as being a bastion of hope for the lethargic American economy.

It's like this:
Energy=Power and he who has the energy has the power. Although we're not going to run out of oil tomorrow, it's not going to last forever. Take a look at the CIA's estimates of oil consumption for one day.

CIA Factbook:
Oil - consumption
Date of Information
World 80,290,000 2005 est.
United States 20,800,000 2005 est.
European Union 14,550,000 2004
China 6,930,000 2007 est.
Japan 5,353,000 2005
Russia 2,916,000 2006
Germany 2,618,000 2005 est.
India 2,438,000 2005 est.
Canada 2,290,000 2005
Korea, South 2,130,000 2006
Brazil 2,100,000 2006 est.
Mexico 2,078,000 2005 est.
Saudi Arabia 2,000,000 2005
France 1,999,000 2005 est.
United Kingdom 1,820,000 2005 est.
Italy 1,732,000 2005 est.
Iran 1,630,000 2006 est.
Spain 1,600,000 2005 est.
Indonesia 1,100,000 2006 est.
Netherlands 1,011,000 2006
1 bbl= 1 barrel= 42 US gallons

These numbers are 2005 and 2006 estimates, so chances are we're using more oil today than two years ago. Friedman said that in Beijing, there are 1000 new cars on the street, every day. Human's are beginning to figure out that if we don't look for new alternatives to oil, we're going to be in a world of hurt.

Although the green movement is on every body's tongues, talk is cheap. The problem is, there aren't proper incentives for development of renewable and sustainable technologies (in the USA), and investors aren't ready to invest in markets controlled by fossil fuels, which have a competitive advantage at this point in time $. It makes complete sense, why would anyone invest money in something that's not going to return the investment? Friedman argues that with the right incentives, our country will be an incubus for energy technology and will lead the world in a change.

One of the reasons why I'm moving to Boston, is to be part of the ensuing green revolution that I feel, like Mr. Friedman, is going to reshape and re-energize our country and our economy.
Everybody's familiar with the rebirth of wind and the advancements in solar and geothermal energy, but there are new and yet to be discovered technologies that are waiting to be hatched.

I think the power is there, it's the storage that we need to work on. I mean, even John McCain realizes that we need to figure out how to store power. In just the past few decades, battery technology has gone from alkaline, to NiCd: nickel-cadmium, to lithium ion batteries that power our cell phones and laptops and nickel-metal hydride batteries storing power in hybrid electric cars like the Toyota Prius pictured above.

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