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January 12, 2008

Drops in the bucket


Further to my note yesterday on the UK going nuclear, my attention was drawn to Charlie Hall's celebrated (in energy circles) balloon graph. As Kurt Cobb explains, "it is not always obvious to modern industrial people that it takes energy to get energy. The more energy we spend on finding, extracting, refining, and transporting energy resources, the less we have for all the other activities of society". Hall's graph challenges the notion that alternative energy sources will provide a smooth transition to a post-fossil fuel society, because scale and energy return remain such huge obstacles. Otherwise stated: look how tiny the drops of renewables are (bottom left) relative to the huge blobs of fossil fuel they have to supplant.

Posted by John Thackara at January 12, 2008 09:34 AM


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