Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Math Doesn't Add Up

I'm still working away on finishing the tile in the shower. Due to bad estimating on my part ("He estimated...poorly." Well, I added up my measurements poorly), I don't have enough bullnose pieces to finish it (they're on order). But I've got the floor and all but the bottom row of the walls covered. I'll grout everything else then finish the bottom row (and the lip where the bullnose goes, of course) so the bottom row can lap the grouted edges of the floor.

I'm starting to gather that tile isn't the most eco-friendly floor covering because of its manufacturing, but besides plasticy liners, there aren't a lot of other options for showers. And the tile will last a long time (75-100 years), so it's the greener of the two options. Taking a shower, is of course, better than taking a bath on the green scale, because it uses less significantly less water (2-3 gallons per minute vs. 30+ gallons).

Speaking of green, there's a nice little summary over at TreeHugger of the 8 most important actions you can take to go green. It's summarized from a lengthy but interesting e-book by David MacKay called Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air. A couple are home-based (e.g., turn down your heat, switch to compact fluorescents), but two of the biggest are transportation-based (e.g., stop flying, drive less and slower). While some of those things are difficult, the nice part is that they all save money.

But the math underlying it all suggests that we all need to do those things and more, as well as develop renewable energy sources. Adding up all the possible renewable energy sources and even nuclear (there's a finite supply of uranium, too) suggests that new energy sources alone won't add up to enough given our current energy usage. We need to reduce our usage levels and develop renewable sources.


pjd said...

Makes sense, doesn't it? But I have little faith in the human race to accomplish conservation. Once, not long ago (perhaps a year ago), I read an op-ed in the Contra Costa Times wherein the author claimed that the way to save the economy was to use more energy.

His brilliant conclusion was based on the indisputable fact that throughout history, as economies got stronger, they used more energy. Energy for production, for transport, for consumption.

So, if we use more energy, we will save the economy and once more become the dominant world superpower. I think this was the same guy who proudly trumpeted the fact that he drives his Hummer from the East Bay to Tahoe nearly once a week, even though he tows nothing, never goes off road, and drives solo.

I know, I had the same question! Who would have thought that idiot could actually write?

Gene said...

It's difficult to argue with 'logic' like that :-/

Looking locally, Wired had this interesting stat: California, with 38 million people, uses 20 billion gallons a year of gasoline and diesel...which is more than China, with 1.3 billion people. 2.8% of the population, but the same fuel use? To be fair, California's usage has been going down the last couple of years, and China's has been climbing, but that still a staggering difference in per capita usage.

pjd said...

Did you ever see "The Story of the Weeping Camel"? If very many of the Chinese population live in those conditions, one would see why the per capita use is so low.

I think there's a popular myth in the US that we have a "clean" society and third world places produce more pollution. Their cities are dirtier, right? So they must have more pollution. But the US produces the most emissions per capita than any third world country. Just because we look clean doesn't mean we are clean.