10 energy paradigms that require shifting - #1: no savings will save us

Change the world? Change the way you see it

I have decided to write about a series of energy related paradigms that require shifting. One paradigm every week, ten weeks in a row. This series of short posts serves you to gain understanding of our energy needs, the energy system as we know it, and the changes required to contribute to a world we can happily live in. This is the first one:

Paradigm #1: No energy savings will save us

On the long run, energy savings do not make sense. There is no way we will save the world or ourselves if we merely rely on cutting back our consumption of fossil fuels. Here’s a simple calculation: it took our planet roughly two billion years to build up the fossil fuel resources we have. Two billion years of converting plants, animals, humans and other carbon-based creatures into oil, coal and gas. When we found out we could use these resources for our own good by setting them on fire things went fast, very fast: in a mere 400 years we deplete all fossil fuel resources that we know of. This means that for every barrel of oil that the earth produces today we extract and burn up 5 million barrels.

50 years in 5 minutes

In financial terms, this compares to burning through 50 years of life savings in just over 5 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DT7bX-B1Mg

If we want to balance our fossil fuel consumption with the amount that planet earth adds to its own “fossil life savings” the required energy saving is 99,99998%, a whopping ninety nine comma nine nine nine nine eight percent.

Bad news, good news

I know this sounds a bit grim, and makes all our efforts seem a bit pointless: Whether you drive a hybrid car, buy LED lightbulbs or insulate your house, the only thing you do is help us deplete fossil fuels a tad bit less quickly, but the problem remains. So what should we do then? The only real solution is to replace all our energy production by renewable resources. The good news: there is more than enough for all of us (the sun alone shines 1400 times the amount of energy the entire humanity consumes), allowing us to replace our culture of scarcity-based fear by one of abundant joy. 

Stay tuned for next week's paradigm: alternative is not alternative

Arash (1977) is an expert in the field of energy, future economy, founder of the worlds' first energy independence company BAS, and international speaker.