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October 19, 2010

Misconceptions about energy lead to waste

October 19, 2010
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The New York Times ran a story today about the Climate and Energy Project and their work in Kansas. Instead of using the fear of climate change to motivate people to reduce their energy use, they appealed to patriotism, thrift, and religion. The problem is that some of their prescriptions do not actually promote patriotism or thrift.

Courtesy of the New York Times

The picture shows people eating by candlelight to save energy. Some people incorrectly argue that reducing our use of electricity would reduce our imports of oil. But as this graph shows, only 1% of our electricity is produced by oil.

Almost all of our energy resources that produce electricity come from the good ol’ U.S.A., especially in Kansas. Kansas gets 70% of its electricity from coal, 19% from nuclear, 5.7% from natural gas, and 5.2% from wind.

As for thrift, using candles to save money isn’t being thrifty. Candles give off nice light (unlike compact fluorescent light bulbs), but they are more expensive than using electricity and more dangerous than using light bulbs. Unlike light bulbs, candles are both a fire hazard and they create indoor air pollution. This is not to say that candles are bad, only that light bulbs are more efficient and safer.

Instead of assuming that using energy makes us extravagant, traitorous heathens, we should consider the real trade-offs. We use energy because it makes our lives better. We should never lose sight of the fact that energy makes us safer, more healthy, and expands our ability to travel. In essence, energy allows us to enjoy the good things in life a little more.

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  • Scottar

    Here is a solution to the electrical problem:

    Read the “What_Fusion_Wanted_To_Be_Joe_Bonometti” Power Point Presentation for details on the LFTR Reactor at

    Although there are promising fusion prototypes this reactor is already doable. All it takes is for Chu to take his head out of his butt along with Congress.

    For transportation: I don’t know what can be done immediately. There are several bio-fuel researches going on but it may be quite awhile before they find something sustainable. A consortium of manufacturers are developing a multi-fuel engine that runs very efficiently on either ethanol and gasoline.

    Although I have read there’s still lots of domestic energy to be had here in the US we need to realize that we can’t continue like it’s pre 2007 anymore. therefore smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles would be prudent.

    I think the biggest scam is those hybrids. Most don’t save that much gas unless you do a lot of stop and go driving. And it moves the energy load from fuel to electricity for those that don’t have good onboard charging. It’s likely to be some time before an efficient battery is developed and proven.

    And don’t fall for the wind and solar PV scam. Without sustainable taxpayer subsidies these technologies are just investor ENRON scams. On solar it’s good for thermal systems or perhaps running air conditioners. No good way to store the intermittent energy or supplement the grid.

    So that leaves coal synfuel or coal carbon cell and nuclear to supply US energy needs fr the next fifty years along with NG and oil. When politicals talk about green energy they are mostly referring to the interests groups who give them lobbyist money. The rest are technically stupid and science deficient on climate change. Time to vote the liberals and RINOS out.

  • ellen tveiten-grotbæ

    If Kansas’ energy savings can help the country as a whole get rid of its dependence on foreign oil, I would say that their initiative is highly patriotic. We are the UNITED States after all…

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