Jason's Notes:
December 25, 02015
  1. Gardens have multiple benefits: lowering HVAC bills, food, education, stress reduction
  2. Bricks and mortar stores are a dying breed, and that's okay. The need to travel to shops is a ridiculous waste of resources (time, money, gas, road infrastructure, land, etc) The new distribution models make it much easier to browse online and centralize distribution. The miles driven by a delivery truck to many houses is vastly less than each of those house holds making their own trips.
  3. No one energy alternative is going to supplant hydro-carbons. Wave power in total can't meet current needs, solar could if we could tackle seasonal variations, dido wind. Geothermal is too costly (though a by-product of oil and gas drilling does help locate minor delta Ts that could be exploited on a local level). Biofuels need too much land and water.
  4. The real opportunity for improving how we utilize energy isn't just diversification of sources, but that we need to use it more efficiently. Oil's biggest sin isn't carbon or VOCs, but rather its waste heat ratio to watts.
  5. Examining transportation in particular, you want to get to a common unit like watt-miles. The power-dense batteries of today are making personal movers the most efficient option (electric skateboards) with electric bikes a close second. A Tesla roadster is way at the other end of the spectrum. Unlucky as we are, those much heavier options are heavily subsidized while much more efficient options are not.
  6. Looking at building energy efficiency, the big hurdle is latency. The typical comfort level is off the climatic offering to the tune of 40% in best case scenarios (PV on the roof, etc). There is surplus that goes to waste because we can't store it.

Saul Griffith:


Synopsis from the Long Now:

Green infrastructure

Griffith began with an eyeroll at the first round of responses in the US to reducing greenhouse gases, a program he calls “peak Al Gore.” Some activities feel virtuous —becoming vegetarian, installing LED lights, avoiding bottled water, reading news online, using cold water detergent, and “showering less in a smaller, colder house”—but they demand constant attention and they don’t really add up to what is needed.

Griffith’s view is that we deal best with greenhouse gases by arranging our infrastructure so we don’t have to think about climate and energy issues every minute. Huge energy savings can come from designing our buildings and cars better, and some would result from replacing a lot of air travel with “video conferencing that doesn’t suck.“ Clean energy will mostly come from solar, wind, biofuels (better ones than present), and nuclear. Solar could be on every roof. The most fuel-efficient travel is on bicycles, which can be encouraged far more. Electric cars are very efficient, and when most become self-driving they can be lighter and even more efficient because “autonomous vehicles don’t run into each other.” Sixty percent of our energy goes to waste heat; with improved design that can be reduced radically to 20 percent.

Taking the infrastructure approach, in a few decades the US could reduce its total energy use by 40 percent, while eliminating all coal and most oil and natural gas burning, with no need to shower less.

       --Stewart Brand