Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rainy Sunday Reading

I wanted to highlight some great reads on the internet recently:

Brave New Leaf
has the text of a letter from Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer regarding peak oil. It's a very interesting, not to mention surprising letter from Shell. Here's a key nugget:

Regardless of which route we choose, the world's current predicament limits our maneuvering room. We are experiencing a step-change in the growth rate of energy demand due to population growth and economic development, and Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.

Elsewhere, Chile tipped her readers off to a fascinating National Geographic article regarding the drying of the Southwest (including Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, and our very own Hell-A.) It's so worthwile, that I wanted to call attention to the article as well. As bad as the news is (and it's bad)I found some reason for optimism here as well:

Every utility in the Southwest now preaches conservation and sustainability, sometimes very forcefully. Las Vegas has prohibited new front lawns, limited the size of back ones, and offers people two dollars a square foot to tear existing ones up and replace them with desert plants. Between 2002 and 2006, the Vegas metro area actually managed to reduce its total consumption of water by around 20 percent, even though its population had increased substantially.

Lastly, an absolute must read from Scientific American: a plan to produce 69% of the U.S.'s electricity and 35% of its total energy needs by 2050 through solar energy. Here's a taste:

Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

There's a lot of depressing information and statistics out there, and peak oil and climate change are reasons for grave concern. But in a world of limited resources, I believe very firmly in one virtually limitless resource: human ingenuity and adaptability. Every time I get depressed about the world around me, I remind myself of this. We can effect change. We just have to want change.

1 comment:

Beany said...

Thanks god about Las Vegas' prohibition! I personally, don't think anyone should even be living there...but whatever.