In the video above I talk briefly about a variety of traditional energy sources our families can choose from today as well as the importance job flexibility, home ownership, and neighborhood design have to enabling our power to move among these and the future energy choices that will develop.
When considering energy resources for our country I want to keep three things in mind:
1.) Security risks of importing energy are important to keep in mind. But until world peace is stabilized there is more risk using up all our own reserves. Could coal become an emergency energy reserve we leave in the ground?
2.) Conservation of energy helps much more than most people think. Practices matter most. When I have no guests I replace the empty space in my refrigerator with empty jugs. That helps my bill. Technology to help us track and conserve energy will make these small gestures more obviously rewarding. But, I don’t talk about them much here because the details are easy to find online. Besides, talking about new energy supplies is more exciting to most people. When I talk about making a fun game of tracking our personal production of energy in exercise, these same tools could be used to offer use conservation incentives.
3.) Many millions of nodes of regular activity can add much power supply. We see this concept in our social networking. The power of knowledge and work the internet offers us today is a footprint to follow for designing our other systems. Most of my political plans for decentralization follow this example of creating many freely operable nodes of independence that communicate with other nodes to create community benefits that scale to the larger and larger systems naturally.
My favorite future energy development will also help our personal fitness. I like plans that aim to solve more than one problem. My suggestion for new access to energy is to harvest the calories from our bodies and turn them into watts for our national grid. Makes common sense. Why aren’t we doing this in more places now? Likely its because those interested in developing energy underestimate the potential. We know that small actions like keeping our refrigerator full, adjusting the blinds, and painting the roof can add up to many energy savings, but we tend to ignore the small actions that can add up across our population to contribute to the energy grid supply. Now that most people carry the mobile gadgets that easily track exercise it will be even more easy to inspire people to go a little bit further. I know I will.
It’s technically modest to adjust our nation’s fitness facility connections to the grid so that all those ellipticals and bikes can supply energy to the community. Gym owners are often looking for other ways they can make their facilities more fun and increase member loyalty. Once we seed this idea in several towns it will spread fairly quickly especially through partnerships that will naturally develop when my health care plan succeeds.
Not only are power companies developing better ways to customize the presentation of our energy use, but most of us are now also buying more functional phones and other gadgets that can track our energy use and production. It wouldn’t be hard to include the fitness centers in this loop for credits to our accounts.
There are also small generators you can wear on your hip to directly harness the energy of your body bouncing while you walk. This energy is enough to power your small computer. There are many days that my computer is the only power I need.
Won’t it be a great rivalry for striving crosstown gym communities? Groups will seek team bragging rights for the maximum wattage provided to the community. Won’t it be great when people have more direct financial incentives to exercise every day? I think people would sweat harder, once we personally count their progress in a fun way, to demonstrate to themselves and their friends that they are a net producer of energy.
As you’ll see in the video above I’m also a fan of transitioning to cleaner external fuels. Admittedly, developing economies and recovering societies will deliver the cheapest energy possible to their populations. However, if we can begin to better account for any negative long term problems associated with some energy sources, the infrastructure built to help the developing community prosper will grow smarter faster. Infrastructure will get designed in the smartest ways for the time periods these developing or rebounding economies are capable of planning. More stable economies will plan with the longest terms in mind.
Given that our national security is strongly linked to energy sourcing, I support government research labs bringing the technology for domestic fuel independence to reality. However, I think individual companies should compete in the marketplace and cooperate with regional economic development initiatives to find their funding. I don’t want the federal government choose among bets within its borders. If a regional government feels that is best for the economic planning of its area, I can tolerate that because it fits better with their scope of duty. In a country as large as ours it is better to limit the federal government to communicate federal lab research so that the playing field remains level for competing regional economies to prosper. The basic research the federal labs perform can be applied in nature as long as it is generally applicable to any entrepreneur paying attention to the developments that can make delivery of cleaner fuels more directly cost competitive. The federal government’s role includes international security and protection. As long as we are dependent on other countries for energy, that research matters for the sake of our future protection. Once we are clearly energy exporters rather than importers, the federal labs can transition the experts in those fields to private industry and get on with even newer research that falls under the scope of national protection.
My favorite new energy technologies (other than those serving as conduit to the excess kilo-calories stored in our own bodies) are those to harness the wave energy in our oceans. From what I read, it seems the most reliable (24-hour source) that also has a minimum impact relative its local environment.
I would like to dramatically minimize the use of nuclear energy over time, but I understand its advantages as well. Payments to communities for spent fuel could be made more competitive.
I also understand the advantages of domestic reserves of natural gas. However, the hydraulic fracturing techniques (fracking) that have made tapping these reserves much cheaper has only been used, with it’s current technology, since the 1990s. It has only grown to large scale very recently. Does it matter when cracks in the ground held open by injected materials like sand meet each other.
Thankfully, monitors can also be inserted in these cracks and the precision of directing advancing cracks has also become better with the advancing technology. But I still worry, the formulas the mathematicians modeling what will happen when cracks meet cracks have one of the important variables or constants wrong. That’s essentially what lead to the mortgage meltdown. Lots of greed, lying, misdirected use of the mortgage instrument developed over the real estate boom, but it was a failure of the mathematical risk models the smart cats hedging bets in our financial markets that hid all those problems to the mainstream. Those investors relied on the intuition of what they observed and common sense to bet against the mathematical models got rich. We can’t really afford for the ground beneath our feet to turn to sand because a math model is off. Math is only as smart as the data and the formula. In my experience, those collecting the data and designing the formulas tend to think they have everything they need, but forget the forest of nature or behavior has one more tree of life they missed. They are a bit like government technicians trying to predict an organization of our lives that is optimal.
I would move to insist the companies in pursuit of this business become very accountable to those owning properties, residences, schools, water, and soil in the areas of their work. Research on the risks should be verified by sources independent from the profits in the industry. They should also be accountable for the large amounts of water they pollute in their processes. Some of the chemicals they use in the process are not yet regulated, but spoil the surface aquatic ecosystems nonetheless. Finally, water disposals injected back into the ground risk lubricating currently quiet natural faults. Some geologists think this increases the overall seismic activity in the area. Will the insurance companies be able to pay for too many ‘acts of God’ caused by natural gas frackers?