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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Energy

This is a sensitive topic. Everybody enjoys living in a developed country.

One reason guest workers from Mexico like living in the United States is the infrastructure. My family has a joke that once you get used to Central Heat and Air, you never want to go back.

We know that for a fact. The Southeastern United States has been traditionally poorer than the rest of the country. Add to that, the advent of air conditioning between the 1960s and 1990s. When I first taught school, most schools were not air conditioned. By 1990, most schools were air conditioned.

Why am I talking about air conditioning? It is something you don't have to have. But it makes life much better. I never air conditioned my home until about 1990. It just took one summer to make the change. To maintain the lifestyle we have, we have to use energy well.

A combination of energy sources is needed. No one energy source has no problems. Some have more than others. We love gasoline. It fuels our automobiles. I have a moderate sized SUV. I have always been careful to not buy a gas guzzler. But like my dad, as long as I have money, I am driving.

So we are all dependent on gasoline producers. If you will notice, we have periods of high prices with dramatic drops in prices. The Saudi Arabians and other oil rich nations are very mindful of retaining their customers. I can't criticize them. But I can criticize developed countries who do not maintain policies to develop alternative energy.

Adding solar panels to your roof is expensive and it is hard to find a contractor. However, if we all did, we would be less dependent on coal burning power plants. There are problems with recycling solar equipment. However use of solar equipment would be like televisions. They would improve the technology over time.

When I was a kid, cars got between 6 and 12 miles per gallon of gas. Today laws requiring automobiles have better gas mileage have improved this and reduced our need on gasoline. When I lived in the South metro Atlanta area, I attended Georgia State University during the summer of 1984. I rode MARTA. It was so convenient. I did most of my required reading on the buses and trains.

I spent a few days riding the trains to all the destinations just to look out the windows. I recommend touring Oahu by riding "The Bus". It is a great way to see the island. I have a friend who has ridden Greyhound all through Appalachia just to look at the scenery, people and sights as she travels from Georgia to Virginia Tech where her daughter works.

Mass transit over well traveled routes would benefit Americans. Our big problem is we are an independent lot. As I get older, I get excited about self driving cars. I know there will be a day I am not a safe driver. Mass transit would be of great benefit for me as I get older.

There are two sorts of energy, renewable and nonrenewable.

Sunlight, Wind, Hydroelectric, Tidal Turbines are examples of renewable.

Fossil fuels are not considered renewable. It takes too many millions of years for them to be replenished. Fossil fuels are petroleum, oil, or coal. Natural Gas is a fossil fuel but it is produced in old landfills and by organic means.

I asked a man in the tree industry about ethanol for automobiles being made from trees. He said that was not practical in that they needed very clean pellets. So ethanol is a product of the corn industry.

A reality of life is you can't have your cake and eat it too. This describes the problems with energy use all over the world. New supplies of energy are often clumsy and inefficient. But that is how everything is started. Fossil fuels are used heavily because this is what we are familiar with.


3 comments:

  1. Fascinating post Ann. I relate to the getting used to heat in the house. We have underfloor heating and when I visit my mom, who doesn't have underfloor heat, I really feel it. At home I walk around barefoot, at mom's I wear at least 2 pairs of socks :)

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  2. The debate goes on about renewable energy. We have recently installed solar panels for electricity, also have a solar powered hot water service. Our house is not air conditioned, just close up everything for hot days and use fans. But we do have a saying That air conditioning in cars is the best thing since sliced bread. I don't know what we would do without it when having to travel on a hot summers day.

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