Sunday, June 5, 2011

Energy usage and food sale and services

We are shifting our focus to studying energy consumption in the next few weeks. We will also have some guest bloggers who are actively learning about energy and environmental laws contribute on the topic. This should be an exciting couple of weeks here at the Green Elephant.

Energy is a huge problem for the us. Not only are we faced with a problem with nuclear energy globally, we are also faced with a shortage problem locally. The US runs 20% of its current energy consumption on nuclear energy. Back in 2007, John Rice, GE’s vice chairman and the man in charge of GE’s nuclear constructions, explained the matter this way:

“The U.S. has 103 aging nuclear plants, and the last one was built in the 1970s. Over the next fifty years, the nation will be retiring about two plants a year. These plants produce about 20 percent of our electricity and demand is supposed to rise by 50 percent by 2030, where will this power come from? We’ll need to build a new plant every six months just to stay even.”

The Argyle Private Equity Conference, June 11, 2007.

I have argued elsewhere that we need to cut back on our consumption to help offset our usage and transiting to a renewable grid. But it's one thing to ask you to turn off your lights and turn your AC a few days later in the summer, it is entirely another thing to ask you to eat less fast food to help conserve energy.

Why do we have to cut back on our fast food? What does BK flame boiled got to do with our energy crisis?
Nothing on the surface of things. If you look deeper, however, you will see that not only are concentrated animal farming operations (CAFOs) more energy intensive and require more fossil fuel consumption, their distributions also require significant amount of gas-guzzling hauls. There is another significant aspect of these energy hogs: our food services and sales also seem to be the highest in typical energy use patterns according to LEED.

Building type
Median Electrical Intensity               (kWh/sf-yr)
Retail (except malls)
Food Sales
Food Services

Note that food sales and food services combined requires almost ten times of offices or lodging. If you factor in the fact that these nonresidential buildings and facilities consume 39% of our total energy, 74% of our electricity, 1/8 of our water, and contributes 40% of the CO2 emission each year, it's not heard to see why if we cut back or cut out our current state of food industry infrastructure we can save a lot of energy.

Even though eating out may be our national pass-time, oddly placing us amongst the most obese in the world, we need to consider our incentives to eat healthier at home and farm your own veggies. It's cheaper perhaps; it may help us cut back some of that CAFO pollution and improve our healthy eating standards; but it is also a way we can reduce our energy consumption so we can build a few less nuclear energy, dig for a few tons of coal, frack a few less places for natural gases . . .

The whole world is interconnected, not just in physical ways, but in metaphysical or anthropomorphic ways . . .  What you do in one aspect of your life will impact your time on earth in other ways, for you and for the planet. Choose wisely how to wish to spent your few seconds here on our precious planet.

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