Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5000 terawatts

Today, I'm thinking about power. A lot of power. It is estimated that worldwide, we use 16 terawatts (TW) a day. The United states alone produces 4TW, or 25% of world production. By 2040, the US is projected to produce about 5TW of electricity. You can see the chart here.

World wide energy demand is estimated to reach 5000TW by 2300, assuming a 2% increase in demand every year. This is something I learned from the New Scientist magazine online. It's a very interesting projection and assumes that many more people in the world will seek the American lifestyle.

I know what it's like to have gadgets, TVs, cars and to fly in an airplane. It's all expensive and takes time to manage. The consumer lifestyle is not all that it's cracked up to be. Washers and dryers, computers, electronics for everyone, and all of the online services. YoutTube, Netflix, Google, Facebook and on and on. There is only so much one can consume until the consumer flops into bed from exhaustion. The only real joy in the world is other people, and none of this so-called prosperity is even worth having unless you can share it with someone.

What kind of a world will be using 5000TW of power every second? Aren't we supposed to be getting more efficient? Well, there are going to be a lot more people by then. Or maybe not. Noam Chomsky pointed in one of his books that every dominant species in history has seen 100,000 years of dominance and that we are near the end of our 100,000 years.

If the 1967 movie classic, "2001: A Space Odyssey" can portray Pam Am (defunct since 1991) as a standard carrier for space travel, then at least we can hope that we might be wrong in our power projections for the future. But then again, anyone alive in the 1950's would have a hard time believing that we're using and producing 16TW today.
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