Will, Baby, Will: Why Energy Problems Need New Thinking, Not New Oil Wells
Providing adequate and sustainable sources of energy isn't a geophysical problem of finding supplies or a technological challenge of using sun, wind or gas more efficiently. It's a psychological problem: How to get people to think differently and behave differently. That, I think, is the lesson of this paper, published last month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology: Some 2 percent of American energy use in a year goes to make food that no one eats, it reports. Eliminating that waste would yield more energy than the country gets from all its offshore oil and gas wells, current and projected.
Given that about a quarter of food produced in the United States goes to waste, write Amanda D. Cuéllar and Michael E. Webber of the University of Texas at Austin, they were able to estimate how much energy annually is "embedded in wasted food." It's a lot: More than 2000 trillion BTUs every year.
Addressing food waste would have other benefits, as Rachel Cernansky points out: The average American family loses $600 a year on food it doesn't consume. Then, too, the Natural Resources Defense Council has reported that cutting food waste would also help lower greenhouse gas emissions without in any way reducing anyone's quality of life.
Recapturing that lost power, Cuéllar and Webber note, won't be a matter of getting everyone to order fewer fries and clean their plates. It will require a "retooling of the food supply chain to ensure that the energy consumed during food production does in fact decrease with a decrease in food waste." That will take a lot of work. But the first step, obviously, is to stop focussing on supply and think seriously about all we have to gain by reducing demand.
Cuéllar, A., & Webber, M. (2010). Wasted Food, Wasted Energy: The Embedded Energy in Food Waste in the United States Environmental Science & Technology DOI: 10.1021/es100310d
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.
I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.
- Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
- The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
- The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.