I'm not sure I get the supposed connection between moral arguments and numbers: nothing is unlimited, including power. That assumption--or that wishful thinking--has caused a lot of problems. But if we want to talk about values (which aren't the same thing as morals), frugality and conservation of resources used to be cherished values, and still are in some places. As Liz points out, wasting energy could backfire--in fact, it already has. That's one of the reasons for the search for alternative sources of energy.
Ann - This was an intersting article and obviously contributors are passionate about this issue. I think that you are right that we need to accept a broad-based approach. Versatility is the hallmark of creativity and there are many, not just one, solution to our energy needs. Green batteries, wind power, conservation, photovoltaics, and IC engines are all part of the energy mix. We need to apply them all where we can and continuously develop new solutions.
Yes, power itself is potentially unlimited, and perhaps it is a moral argument we are all having here. But in my opinion, people need to be smarter about their consumption of power and think about the bigger picture. Even the resources we believe to be unlimited could fail us one day, and wasting energy now could have unforseen ramifications for the future. Smarter storage and use of power sources in the present is, in my opinion, the best way to set a practical precedent for the use of energy and existing power resources in the future.
China outstrips US power usage because there are a couple of orders of magnitude more people there than here--and they've only gotten to that dubious achievement recently. On a per-individual basis, nobody knows how to consume power like we do here in the US. That's true for just about every resource you can think of, and has been true for most of the last century. I don't see why we shouldn't also be using as little as possible, on top of all the other strategies: conservation.
Moral opinion aside, the world will continue to demand more power. The best we can do is recycle and be efficient in generation and storage. For example, I could light up my whole house like an operating room with LED lights for the same power consumption of only a handful of incandescent bulbs. China already outstrips the power demands of the USA. That will not change, only grow. Let's make for a bright efficient future.
My point was that the idea that there is so much power that one can consume as much as one wants to pay for--i.e., if not unlimited, than potentially very high limits for people with lots of money--is the privilege of people in First World countries, and not at all a condition shared by many other people in other countries; in fact, by most other people. I don't see how limits on consumption somehow limits one's freedom.
Elizabeth, I mean a better technology for saving more energy in a limited space, like Duracell. Duracell are 10 times powerful than normal cells. like that optimizing for more power at a limited space.
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