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  • Energy is the basis for everything.

  • It's the basis for our lives.

  • We can't survive without energy.

  • What is this thing we talk about, energy, and why does it matter so much?

  • It matters because it defines who we are.

  • It matters because defines where we work, how we get there, what we invent.

  • It matters because tracks directly

  • with prosperity and human progress.

  • Energy, simply speaking, is the ability to do work.

  • Energy has been the enabler for modern civilization.

  • In fact how we use energy, and how much energy we use

  • is the defining element of modern civilization.

  • In United States, we consume 100 quadrillion British thermal units of energy every year.

  • One BTU is about the energy content of a kitchen match.

  • In the United States, we use 100 quadrillion BTUs or 100 quadrillion kitchen matches of energy a year

  • which is the same as 100 billion million kitchen matches.

  • This is 16 billion barrels of oil equivalent energy consumed in the United States every year

  • and we are 20% of global energy consumption.

  • You can start to get a sense of the scale of this.

  • 37% of it comes from petroleum or oil.

  • 25% comes from natural gas and 21% comes from coal.

  • The remainder is split almost equally between nuclear power and renewable energy.

  • So we get 9% of our power from a nuclear energy and we get about 8% overall from renewables.

  • The largest as hydropower but also wind, solar, geothermal, biomass are some other key renewable energy sources.

  • Historically, energy consumption the U.S. has increased in lockstep with economic growth

  • in roughly the same percentages.

  • U.S energy use has been heading upward inexorably since the country's founding,

  • and it's always been a challenge to find the right way to supply that energy

  • in a way that's economically sound, that is not environmentally destructive,

  • and destructive for human health in that is also compatible with national security needs.

  • Wood was our first intensive use of energy.

  • We used it to cook, we used it to heat, and once we had harnessed the steam engine,

  • we used it to power or run machinery.

  • The key thing that happened was the industrial revolution.

  • In order to have this industrial revolution we had to fire it up was something that burned

  • much more efficiently than wood.

  • Coal is the transformative fuel.

  • It allows for industrial activity, it allows for factories that are steady-state production.

  • You don't have to wait for water, you don't want for wind.

  • It was cleaner and it produced more heat and more temperature so we could use it to melt metals, for example.

  • And it became the dominant fuel source for about six decades.

  • With stunning quickness

  • that idea of king coal's dominance is undermined and destroyed by the discovery

  • of vast new sources of oil.

  • Out of World War II and the development of the Manhattan Project, we saw the rise of nuclear power

  • which made significant inroads into energy consumption.

  • But it was at that stage and this is probably around 50s

  • that you get the first real questions of environment creeping in.

  • and particularly local environment in trying to clean up air quality in the cities.

  • Then as we move into the late 90s and the early 2000s

  • we begin to get the climate change pressure and that starts a big push towards

  • lower carbon, and particularly renewable sources of energy.

  • Now we start to see evidence that natural gas of all sorts that we didn't even know we could produce

  • is on the verge of making the same kind of motion in the energy mix that oil made in the early 20th century

  • in pushing oil and coal back.

  • People have not had to care about energy per se.

  • And, in fact, people don't care about energy they care about services that energy provides

  • and it gives us a lot of good things that we think as being pretty central to our quality of life.

  • You use energy every day to run your household.

  • You wake up in the morning,

  • get your kids cleaned up. You know you transport them to school there's an energy use there.

  • You transport yourself to work.

  • Wherever your working there's energy consumption all day long to run the building, to run the computer systems.

  • You use energy to get back home again. You use energy to cook dinner at night.

  • I mean that's kind of a typical daily pattern of use.

  • Production of virtually everything takes energy or things that can be used to produce energy.

  • You know you go to a modern farm and see all the machinery.

  • The grain has to be transported by energy-powered trucks to processors,

  • and it has to be transported to your store, and so basically at every step of the food production chain, energy is involved.

  • We use energy at every step of the day. We use it in great abundance.

  • We use great quantities of that energy to achieve all the different things were trying to achieve

  • yet don't know where comes from,

  • we don't know the environmental impacts, we don't know the real costs.

  • So there's a remarkable disconnect between

  • how we use, what we use, why we use it, and where it actually comes from.

  • We believe electricity is invisible

  • that means i flick my switch and I don't believe

  • in my mind that there's a fuel behind that.

  • I'm convinced some people think that electricity just comes out of the wall,

  • that nothing goes into it, and most electricity in the United States right now

  • is generated by coal.

  • On the one hand that people, yes, they want really cheap energy, but on the other hand

  • they're concerned about pollution and things of that nature and so

  • they want people to consume less of it.

  • There's this fundamental attention, you know, bordering on schizophrenia between

  • believing that energy is sort of somebody's birthright and that we have a right to have cheap energy

  • and on the other hand being anxious about the consequences of consuming too much of it.

  • We've been faced with challenges that should have forced us to make changes in

  • the way we deal with energy for decades, but we still have big problems.

  • We're vulnerable to ever-increasing oil prices around the world

  • and we continue to pump enormous amounts of greenhouse gases

  • into the atmosphere in ways that will come back to bite us in the long run.

  • We need to have a rational conversation energy because the stakes are so high.

  • We get so much good out of energy if the manage it the right way,

  • and we get so much bad out of energy if we mismanage it.

  • The bad stuff being pollution or depletion of resources or national security vulnerabilities.

  • The good stuff being prosperity, health, wealth, peace, that kind of thing.

  • So the stakes are very high

  • and if we manage this in a rational way

  • the chances of us taking the right path towards a better outcome

  • is much more assured.

Energy is the basis for everything.

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B1 energy energy consumption coal oil consumption rational

Rational Middle Energy Series: Energy 101

  • 101 9
    Vincent Chang posted on 2013/08/22
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