Energy policy, defining how we use energy to power our economy and our lives, is among the most pressing issues for the next four years. In this special edition of BURN, stories about the power of one: how, in this election season, a single person, place, policy or idea can — with a boost from science — affect the nation’s search for greater energy independence.
A number of political economists and business authorities are predicting that a 9%-10% unemployment rate has become the norm and will remain so for at least the next generation. And what has caused this? The banks? The politicians? The President (or the preceding presidents?)
Perhaps it is none of the above… perhaps it is the mix of our inventiveness, technology and and our growing productivity.
Think about this: we make more and more automobiles, with more advanced engines and technical attributes, but we use less and less employees to manufacture them. Through the use of advanced robotics we have taken what used to be thousands of workers on the assembly lines and replaced them with hundreds. That means 90% of previous employees are no longer necessary due to our technical advances… and more of these are coming. What if the hundred worker line becomes the ten worker line? It’s not only possible, it’s likely.
I heard someone on television ask “When was the last time you dealt directly with a bank teller?” The answer, of course, is that with debit cards and ATM machines, we handle our own deposit activities, get our own cash, check our balances, etc. Do we wonder, then, why the number of bank employees have fallen off?
The people in retail stores who used to mark items with price tags have been replaced by preprinted bar codes which are scanned at checkout counters to connect with computer listed prices. And now, in grocery stores for instance, there is a marked increase in checkout lines where you do the bar code scanning yourself, replacing the cash register employee. In my supermarket, eight checkout lines are now customer scanned and are observed and approved by one employee at the end of the aisle, thus eliminating seven cash register employees. As the self-checkout system grows, fewer and fewer cash register lines are even lit up and open… this almost forces many people into the self-checkout so they don’t wait in a long line.
The one set of industries that would employ larger numbers of people… construction, both on housing and in repairing our highways, bridges and infrastructure… is being ignored by Congress in an obvious and serious political confrontation with the President. By voting down the Jobs act (or not letting it come into being) there is no support for this help to Americans and their country.
Then there are teachers, firemen and police officers, all who have faced extreme layoffs due to budget cuts after tax income has been reduced due to increased unemployment. There are smaller towns that have eliminated their police departments altogether, if you can believe that. Schoolrooms now have larger and less teachable classes in order to cope with less teachers… and the academic achievements of our children have diminished accordingly. We are becoming both poorer and less educated at the same time.
If there is a solution to all of this… if there is a response other than absolute anger, as the Occupy movements are showing… I don’t know what it is.
- Supermarket Self-Checkouts Being Replaced With People (outsidethebeltway.com)
- If This is the Future of Shopping, Heaven Help Us! (customerthink.com)
- Paypal the future of shopping…retail, QR codes, barcode, scan and more (c24.co.uk)
…but we are currently being hit by a string of thunder storms passing over us toward Hagerstown. The Fire Department Carnival, which is supposed to present the fireworks at 10:45 PM, hasn’t announced a cancellation yet… if they do, tomorrow night is the rain date.
The Weather Channel, however, is predicting a 70% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow and tomorrow night. Shepherdstown Fire Department has not listed another rain date…yet… so maybe we will or won’t have fireworks this year. These are the ones I really like, since Elly and I can sit on our back deck and not have to leave the house or find parking.
Oh well, we’ll see what happens.
Green Drinks is a group that gets together once a month so that people with interests in conservation, green energy and related subjects can interact with each other. Elly has been going to this since it relates to Sustainable Shepherdstown. Tonite I went along with her.
There was a speaker this evening, something I’m told doesn’t usually happen at these events. His name is John Amos and his company is SkyTruth. This is an organization which uses satellite and aerial photography to evaluate the effects of oil drilling and shale fracking and other destructive things that people do to the earth. He has been especially involved with viewing BP’s oil leak history in the Gulf.
- Green Drinks April 6th (sandiegolocals.wordpress.com)
- Trashed: Movie Screening – NASCAR Hall of Fame – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Culture Guide (mooselyeco.com)
- Harpers Ferry and Virginia Secession (markerhunter.wordpress.com)
- It’s Earth Week. But Who Really Cares? (blisstree.com)
When we talk about getting away from oil, coal and other carbon power sources and toward wind and solar, very few ideas seem to be massive enough to solve the problem. Lately we are seeing proposals for massive off-continent wind farms (Massachusetts and Maryland are currently pushing these) and other projects. But the idea of the Solar Roadway is not one we hear a lot of.
Take a look at this:
Here’s where to go to explore the project: http://solarroadways.com. It’s full of information to get your interest up… you can even see their TED presentation where Scott Brusaw was given 18 minutes to present it. It’s a really successful 18 minutes and worth your time.
A statement like this makes me wonder why the government isn’t getting involved here:
Everyone has power. No more power shortages, no more roaming power outages, no more need to burn coal (50% of greenhouse gases). Less need for fossil fuels and less dependency upon foreign oil. Much less pollution. How about this for a long term advantage: an electric road allows all-electric vehicles to recharge anywhere: rest stops, parking lots, etc. They would then have the same range as a gasoline-powered vehicle. Internal combustion engines would become obsolete. Our dependency on oil would come to an abrupt end.
If you are really interested in alternative power, go have a look at the Solar Roadways web site.
- Solar Roadways Fix The Grid And Crumbling Pavement (wired.com)
- Solar Roadways Leads GE’s Ecomagination Challenge With 2 Days to Go (solarfeeds.com)
- The Potential of Solar Roads (solarfeeds.com)
- Environmental Visionaries: The Solar Roadrunner (popsci.com)
- GE challenge brings out radical ideas to clean grid (news.cnet.com)
- Solar Roadway Prototype (geeksaresexy.net)
I’ll give you a clip from it, but I suggest you read the whole thing: