The Carbon Military Industrial Complex
I recently seen a interview with Elon Musk (of Tesla car fame) which I found quite interesting. Essentially Elon was responding to a question about why he was releasing the company's electric car patents to the world. His rationale was that he was hoping that making this information open source he could speed up electric car development. I applaud his decision and I agree with Elon about the nature of the problem.
Elon Musk said that worldwide there were around one hundred million cars produced and sold last year, and that although his company had been successful in growing their market share, they had only produced and sold 35,000 cars last year. To help visualize this a little bit Tesla produced and sold one car for every 2,857 cars produced and sold in the world last year.
Elon went on to say that even if we started producing and selling nothing but electric cars starting tomorrow that it would still take 20 years to replace all the cars in our worldwide car fleet. He was commenting on the vast scale of our infrastructure and investment in fossil fuels and their use. This investment and infrastructure is not going away anytime soon.
Somewhere else I ran into the term Carbon Military Industrial Complex, I don't remember where? This term is especially applicable in America where our government seems committed to cheap gasoline. Much of our angst over the Middle east and the resent machinations of Putin in the Crimea are really centered on protecting our oil supply life line. I really do think it would be in America's best interest to actively begin trying to move away from fossil fuels, and to move towards renewable energy sources. I say this for several reasons.
The first rational I will pull from the Bible. In Daniel Chapter 5, Verse 25 where God's handwriting appeared upon the wall saying "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN". Translation "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting". Essentially I am trying to say we are running into peak oil and need to start looking for replacement energy sources. In ground transport electric drive is going to to be the technology of the future, and we had better start investing in it heavily. This is regardless of global climate change which is the second most compelling reason. Finally if America were to move more and more to renewable energy sources our national security needs would be much simplified.
If we did a honest accounting of all the resources we invest in fossil fuel extraction such as tax breaks and military expenditures the average American would be shocked at the true cost of his or her gallon of gas.
Recently I did some back of the envelope calculations on my households Carbon footprint and I was gratified to learn that our 5.1 KW Photovoltaic panel array has reduced our Carbon output by 8.8 tons or 46%. Another 1.9 tons a year are tied up in Propane which I think I can reduce by more then half by installing a pellet stove for heating our house in the winter reducing our furnace load in cold weather. The rest is in our one vehicle (a 4 Runner) which we use for everything including towing a RV Trailer occasionally. I need to do more work on this problem because I am only estimating my gasoline use at 8 tons of carbon a year instead of calculating it based upon my actual consumption.
Most of us don't really look at our Carbon output based upon our known energy use per year. You really need to do this calculation. Find out your yearly electrical consumption needs, propane, natural gas, gasoline, what have you and convert the combustion or consumption of these fuels into Carbon output. These translations are readily available on the internet.
One last thing, we get from $50 to $80 a month from the electric company every month for electricity we sell them and I have not included this into my Carbon calculations. We are in fact providing Carbon neutral electricity for other people EPE is selling our excess power to. We got our first electric bill in June for power we had to buy to power our central air conditioning and it was $20. It is looking like we will be using less then $60 in power we must buy to air condition our house over the summer. I would need to subtract this power use from my net sales to get a more accurate Carbon figure. That and getting a actual gasoline usage number for the year would help me get a more accurate picture on how our investments have reduced our Carbon footprint.
P.S. One final note I did some calculations on the million lumen hour cost of these Edison light bulb reproductions and I must advise you not to use them. WE have one for show and tell and rarely ever use it so I am not saying never buy one just don't use them for seriously lighting your home. The cost of a 60 watt reproduction putting out 400 lumens is around $24.57 per million lumen hours. You can light your home for from $2 to $3 per MLH's using compact fluorescent lighting. LED's are coming on but still cost around twice as much.
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