Efficiency

How nuclear disaster forced Japan to be frugal with energy

In 1972 the Club of Rome published a controversial study that looked at the interaction of finite resources and exponential growth. The scenario they painted was not pretty. The report was largely dismissed as a doomsday scenario. And yet, nearly 40 years later, we are reaching exactly what that study predicted: the limits to growth. What they predicted seems not only plausible, but to be actually happening. And this time, doomsday may not be just a "scenario." We are looking at peak water, peak oil, peak fossil fuels. This including the uranium necessary to fuel the nuclear reactors the industry claims are essential to prevent the other elephant in the room- global warming. And, as Jonathan Watts cogently points out, we may be facing the age of "peak human."

Unpopular as the idea may be, our energy problem may have less to do with energy than with overpopulation. And, with an unwillingness to live within our means, within the means of the earth we live on. Human nature being what it is, it doesn't seem likely we will stop having children. This makes it more imperative that we live in a way that will protect them. The future, their future, is a trust we have been given. To conserve and grow, not to squander wastefully on needless excesses. The earth is a trust, to protect and to honor. Our home, our livelihood, our future rests in the quality of our stewardship. Let us become better stewards.

Guardian Environment Blog l Jonathan Watts     12 May, 2011

Japan's decision not to build more nuclear reactors is understandable given the explosions and leaks at the Fukushima power plant. But how will the country make up the massive energy shortfall? Prime ministerNaoto Kan says supply can be sustained by investing more in renewables like wind, solar and geothermal. But there is a far simpler, cheaper and cleaner solution: use less power.

As I learned on a trip to Tokyo and Tohoku last week, this is already happening. In the wake of a disaster that knocked out six reactors,Japan's businesses and people have been forced to scale back their electricity consumption.

To conserve power, the utilities scheduled rolling power cuts, but many have not been necessary because considerable energy has been saved simply by promoting frugality. In shopping malls and stations, many automatic doors and escalators have been switched off, which means – shock, horror – that people are forced to push open doors and walk up stairs (there are still elevators for wheelchairs).

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Will "Smart" Household Electricity Meters Give You Cancer?

Mother Jones weighs in on smart meters. Are they good, or is Big Brother knocking on your electricity door? They had some interesting findings, worth reading about. But, the radiation issue in general, if not for smart meters, is still up in the air. To that end, as an incidental aside, look at that spike in the graph for cell phones at the ear. It would be good to find an answer to that question in this age of smart phone dominance.

The article brings up the issue of some new ways we are exposed to radiation due to changes in technology use. It's not the subject of this article, but maybe a future one?

All this being said, if we do not accept the need to actually practice efficiency, there will be no hope of ever changing our energy and environmental future for the better.

Keira Butler | Mother Jones    Jan. 17, 2011

You'd think Marin County, California, famous for its tree huggers, would be all for "smart" household electricity and gas meters. Experts say that the devices, which allow utilities to calculate your energy rates in real time instead of once a month, are an important step toward greening our Rube-Goldberg-ish energy grid. But earlier this month, the Marin County Board of Supervisorsvoted unanimously to impose a moratorium on installation of the devices, primarily because of health concerns about the electromagnetic radiation the devices emit. AsJonathan Hiskes points out in his post on the subject, health worries are only part of the debate: Some worry that smart meters will broadcast consumers' private information to utilities and businesses. Still others believe that smart meters will actually increase users' power bills.

So is there reason to fear the new system, or are Bay Area folks just nuts? I polled a few experts. Herewith, their answers to some of the most pressing smart-meter questions.

Will my smart meter give me a brain tumor?

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Nuclear Power is not the Answer