Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let's Have a Serious Discussion

I'd like to share and open further discussion that began as a sarcastic response to Dan Smith's blog post yesterday about overpopulation. Fellow architect Steve Sunderman responded with a thought provoking comment that inspired me to further modify Dan Smith's graphic that describes the issue:
Eldon L Karr-Architect shared a link via Dan Smith.

23 hours ago
So what's the solution? Cool Cities Coalition might help. The answer to come.

fromtheeditr: What the World Needs Now ... Is More People

Steve Sunderman: People do what people do. I would hope that we not adopt a one child policy like China has. I believe that we need to do all we can to conserve resources and find new & better ways of accommodating inevitable population growth, affluence and climate change. That is why I promote conservation, recycling and renewable energy sources.

Eldon L Karr-Architect:
‎Steve Sunderman,
I agree a one child policy is rather extreme, but our country does not yet have a population exceeding 1 billion. As population growth continues to accelerate, it may be unwise to accept it as inevitable and infinite. Mos...t are not willing to accept the idea of curbing our insatiable appetite for affluence. (I'm glad you included that observation.)

We are on the same page regarding conservation and recycling.

As I understand, all of our energy comes from the sun (99.999999999%). Our sun is on the wane and climate change is inevitable. Since the late 1960's & early 70's I have advocated and promoted seeking alternative forms of usable energy and energy storage. This has included capturing energy from the wind to be used as a point of use based supplement, not distributed under the guise of an unending commodity over the corporate controlled convenience of the transmission/distribution grid thus encouraging ever greater consumption and inefficiency.

I believe that nature itself takes care of renewing and storing resources better than we as human beings can ever hope to. I believe it is our charge, particularly as professional architects, to communicate the correct understanding of these matters to the general population. And even more importantly, to promote and advocate efficiency and conservation through point of use based generation systems. while unrelentingly pursuing cost based evaluation of built-environment design.
It is far short of being enough to just advocate "green" and "renewable" (both terms being sorely misunderstood)

and the conversation continues:
Steve Sunderman: Eldon, I agree with many of your points. I understand that their is an inefficiency factor with the industrial wind application and I know that the Tea Party folks are strongly against any financial incentives for renewable energy R&D, but I believe that renewable energy sources are far better than fossil fuel sources in many ways, but renewables cannot compete yet mostly because of lack of demand (costs & availability). It is my premise that subsidizing research & development of wind, solar & water power will encourage innovation, efficiency and mass production, which will drive down costs. Then support can be withdrawn as it will be able to stand on its own merits. I am hearing that electrical storage systems are close to reality and when & if that happens, there is a new ball game. I think that our future power systems may not even be apparent to us today as we cannot even imagine what the future holds, provided we continue to want and encourage such innovation.

Steve Sunderman: Infinite population growth cannot be sustained. When such growth becomes overwhelming it will self-correct, probably in not very nice ways. Think what our population would be today if there had never been any wars. When there is not enough water or food, people will fight for their survival. My hope is that we voluntarily manage growth and earth's resources. Our resources are finite. Did you know that if everyone on earth used resources of a typical American, it would take 5 planets of resource production to supply the demand?

Eldon L Karr-Architect: Steve, First let's remove political references from the discussion as I don't believe the answer to the question of our energy consumption lies within any political encampment. Personally, although in my earlier years I strongly identified with the Democrats and a liberal ideology, I have found difficulty in committing allegiance to any political party since the mid 1980's. Albeit, McClain, Christopolus and many others have attempted to pigeon-hole me with the TEA Party.

Of course, I am strongly in support of government sponsorship of research & development. As a nation, I believe we are making a huge mistake pulling out of our manned space program. I think solar, geo-thermal, hydro(tidal) and fusion are currently where our research and development should be focused. I think we should provide incentives to consumers to install site-based electrical generation through vehicles like the PACE program, thereby encouraging conservation.

Industrial scale generation with wind turbines imposes far too much environmental damage to promote further development with the existing technology. Further, the development incentives are far beyond reasonable expectation of return ($23+/- per Mwh compared to $1.50 per Mwh and less for all other sources of generation).

I appreciate your interest in entering into this discussion. Recently, I have started a new blog:
I'd like nothing better than to either move this conversation there or to:
I believe that a lot more people would benefit in those venues.
Best regards

Eldon L Karr-Architect: Wow! I was preparing my response prior to receiving your next comment.
No, I wasn't aware that Americans were THAT gluttonous. Let's keep this discussion going. Maybe invite a few more intelligent, conscientious architect who would like to make a difference.
We must, however, leave enough time for doing.

Steve Sunderman: Good points. I must admit that I am not nearly as well versed on the details as you are. My support for wind & solar energy is a general principle based on a bias toward renewable energy sources as a means to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I know that new concepts or technology is always met with a great deal of resistance and I just want to leave this place a little better for my children & grandchildren if at all possible. "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

Eldon L Karr-Architect I do believe we can make a positive difference for our children, let's just not have so many of them for a while ;)