Sunday, August 19, 2007

a well-worded rant, i thought

I received this a few days ago in my mailbox, via the carfree cities Yahoo! group.


Lance Armstrong pedalling a bike-driven generator can
produce about 350 watts and he can probably keep this
up for about 3 hours. That is, roughly, 1 kilowatt-hour.

If Lance drives to the gym in a Prius and he travels
10 miles round trip, he uses an average of about 10 HP
for a period of 10 minutes (assuming an unlikely average
speed of 60 MPH). At 746 watts/HP, this is 74,600 watt-min:

10 min * 10 HP * 746 watts

74,600 watt-min is 1243 watt-hours or 1.243 kWh

So, in ten minutes of driving, Lance uses more energy than
he can produce in 3 hours of pedalling.

Now, if it's YOU on the treadmill, how many watts continuous
can you produced for three hours?

If you power your car by pedalling a generator to charge
its batteries, you're going to have to pedal for, say,
one working shift in order to drive 10 miles back and
forth to work. Or, you could ride your bike for, say,
40 minutes each way.

We MUST get our heads around the notion of just how much
energy we are consuming. It's truly incredible. Think in
terms of reducing your energy consumption 10-fold in
your lifetime. Even THAT is probably not sustainable.

The fix we're in is so much worse than people think it is,
simply because they think it's quite normal to put 10 gallons
of gasoline in the car once or twice a week. The energy
content of that gasoline is just incredible; only since
the start of the industrial era have people been able to
consume energy at this rate. This has only been possible
because we have been burning fossil fuels created over a
span of millions of years during the course of a century.

Rainwater falling off the roof is not going to power your
next flight to Disneyworld. It's not going to get you to
the airport. In fact, it's barely going to get you out
of the driveway.

Life is going to change. Get used to it. Then figure out
how to enjoy it. That's not hard. Just imagine carfree cities."
-Joel, of

In other news, I'm going to Hong Kong for a few days at the end of the month as my visa will be expiring. I'm planning to take the train via Guangzhou, mainly because that's the only direct train from Chengdu. From Guangzhou I'll bus or train to Shenzhen and then take the subway over the Kowloon. It's going to be long and exhausting--but fortunately, hot, so I don't have to take too many clothes with me.

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