energy paradox

January 2, 2010

At the moment, we have a global crisis in energy and resources – simply put we are consuming too much energy. In past years I had the privilege of living next to one of the nicest ocean walking tracks in this city. I would watch a constant stream of joggers every day, and try to resist the urge (based on body envy of course) to throw things at them. At the time I had 2 toddlers, which did consume a lot of energy. I would chase, lift carry and clean and I would burn up my own calories doing so, and surely this was a good thing. Eventually I even managed to lose some weight but not without some serious walks and dieting.

So the joggers, the toddlers, and the news about climate change got me thinking. How about we put this into an energy equation, you know like the things we used to calculate in physics class (umm, 20 years ago?) Much of the world’s energy resources are used by technology devices that are designed to make rich people’s lives easier. And by that I include just about everyone who lives in a Western country. We use dishwashers, dryers, cars and the internet in a constant race to save time and energy. Energy of planet consumed to reduce energy expenditure by humans.

Meanwhile people continue to eat. In the West we have diets consisting of increasingly high-energy food that has been made available to us by the use of technology, consuming the world’s resources to dump excess energy into our bodies which is then largely converted to fat. Again the same thing, energy resources of planet consumed, people end up with excess energy stores.

To deal with resulting obesity crisis, we all then jog or attend gyms to get exercise. Which is surely a good thing.

I guess I am seeing a kind of paradox here, and what I am saying is not really new. I could ask my Dad, who is a physicist, he may be able to help out. But the natural solution is not a palatable one for most people. We get rid of any technology that is designed to reduce energy expenditure by humans. We revert to doing all washing by hand, we walk or bicycle everywhere, we eat only food that we could grow, kill and prepare ourselves. I guess most serious greenies are already advocating this kind of stuff. I am simply looking at this in terms of an energy equation.

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