Saturday, July 26, 2008

Follow Up #4: Power

Recently I saw the following chart (left) in the Economist's special report on The Future of Energy. Last year I did some research and drew up these charts in support of my Power blog (right 2 charts). Thanks, Economist for painting this interesting historical picture to queue up my forecasts.

In their chart, what strikes me as most interesting is the speed with which we have been able to switch from one source of energy to another. The shift from wood to coal was halfway complete within 3 decades. We shifted from 3/4 of energy from coal to 1/4 in a single generation (thanks to the increase in oil demand from the exploding popularity of cars).

There's plenty of hard evidence that the rate of technological progress continues to accelerate unabated and with no end in sight. To me, this lends credibility to the argument I've been trying to make of late: the current media hand-wringing is largely misdirected angst. I'm quite confident will be able to shift our energy sources even in the face of unstoppable and dramatic increases in demand ... all before Armageddon is upon us. No, $5 gas is not Armageddon. Jeez.

The Economist seems equally confident that we'll make the necessary changes in the appropriate (yes, "measured and responsible" is an appropriate pace for things) way and time frame. To paraphrase: Don't look now but it's already happening. One of the main sources for their special report, Geoffrey Carr, said it best in a blog at "Alternative energy technologies are proliferating rapidly. And it is big bad business that is making it happen."

Chalk up another one for capitalism to save the day. The Watermelons (aka Green Party) and their type have been thrashing for half a century to absolutely zero effect, save giving environmentalism a bad name.

Source of first chart: BP via

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