Friday, May 13, 2011

Duval Travelers

I watched these tourists dithering with their map and no certain idea which way to go. I tend to forget how confusing this little town can be, yet one is constantly stumbling over people trying to figure their direction of travel.Then there are those who know exactly which way they are going and bicycle travel remains the easiest way to get there.The International Energy Agency recently issued a rather blunt report saying renewable energy cannot hope to provide sufficient power for seven billion people. Even as we start the slow path in the direction of engines other than those powered by internal combustion. This electric work truck is still rare, even in Key West. Even so bicycles are practical and cheap and they really do work well.I favor my motorcycle of course even though it isn't one more among the ubiquitous Harleys. Or you could easily rent a scooter and ride to the beach.
Or let someone else do the pedaling.
And I have noticed that many more pedi-cab drivers are Americans these days. During the boom years they seemed to be exclusively Slavs. And we give the final word to alternative transportation of the home built kind. Solar power to supplement the electric energy to run the motor. The future perhaps, for all of us?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This will be a lengthy response.
Renewable energy as applied in our society is neither commercially viable nor will it replace fossil fuels. The argument I maintain, however, is that there is a roadmap to a future whereby a matrix solution of renewables and select fossil fuels will allow energy resources to be available to our successors for generations to come. The roadmap is quite simple:
1. Start by consuming less energy at home. Homes and buildings account for 50% of our total energy consumption, and their use is completely under our care, custody and control. Our European counterparts consume, on average, 50% less energy than we do – and it’s easy to get to a reduced level. I’ve done several homes now for myself, my friends and neighbors and have been able to reduced the amount of energy consumed by 50%. Energy efficient lighting, energy efficient appliances, smart thermostats, etc – they will drop the average utility bill this much.
2. Choose to live in an intelligent space/place. By intelligent, I mean choose between living in a place you need vs. a place one desires. Americans have far too many McMansions of 3000+ square feet – yet a home of less than 1000 square feet is perfectly adequate. Better yet – live in an urban environment where walls are shared with neighbors…Shared walls mean outside wall to heat and cool. My coworker and I have identical sized apartments on a tropical island, yet my electric bill is less than half his, as my apartment is in a high rise, and his is a townhouse.
3. Live in a pedestrian environment. Americans drive a ridiculous amount a miles per year – something on the order of 10,000 – 12,000 miles on average. This means a 2 person household consumes 1000 gallons of fuel annually. Choosing to live and work in a pedestrian environment can reduce this 90%. We used to have 5 cars and a $300/month fuel bill (when fuel was $3/gallon) we now live in a pedestrian environment and have one car whose fuel tank hasn’t been filled in months. Bikes and feet work for trips of 5 miles or less; the car is used for hauling stuff or longer trips.
4. Apply renewable energy solutions wisely. Domestic solar water heaters make commercial sense in many areas, as do geothermal heat pumps. The combination of the two can supply over 90% of home heating requirements, as shown by Drake Landing Solar Community (http://dlsc.ca/). If solar thermal works in Alberta – it will work in the Upper Midwest, or wherever heating is required.
Following this simple roadmap can result in energy consumption reductions of up to 90% - at which time renewable energy solutions begin to make sense. An energy efficient home consumes less than a kilowatt a day, on average; a three kilowatt grid-tied solar array would make the home a netzero installation by placing energy not used on the grid. Additional panels plus batteries allow the home to be taken off-grid.
None of what’s been described is unattainable – but it does require a change in the way we live. That’s the hard part – it’s not a sacrifice to live in a place like Key West, but one’s perception of their environment – and what makes them happy - must change from the big box retailer, McMansion-stuffing, SUV toting reality we’ve been told is The American Dream. Bigger is not better; more stuff does not equate more happiness.

From Fleming,

Chuck.

Len said...

Where's the high-rise on Fleming?

Anonymous said...

There isn't.

Key West misses tropical island status by just less than two degrees; it is the location of my northernmost residence.

World traveling,

Chuck on Fleming.