[PLUG-TALK] Risk of earthquake based nuclear problems in USA

Michael Moore moore.michael.m at gmail.com
Sun Mar 20 15:20:51 PDT 2011

On 3/19/2011 9:24 PM, Keith Lofstrom wrote:
> I am working on server-sky.com . I hope to move the server
> farms into orbit, someday.  Lots of potential benefits.  Also
> lots of unsolved problems.  If you want to do something, help.
> But the deployment may take decades to complete.
> We need to replace the coal and oil faster than that.

While I'm greatly enjoying this discussion (sitting idly by on the 
sidelines, munching popcorn!), there's one thing I haven't seen 
addressed in all the insightful back-and-forth.

I have a cousin who works at the Primate Research Center in Hillsboro. 
He lives in one of those sprawling housing developments that sprung up 
in east Vancouver.  I've only been out to his place a few times since he 
moved there and, personally, I find the area to be depressing.  But 
that's fine, I don't live there, he and his family do, and I don't have 
to live with the choices they made.  So now he commutes 5 days a week 
from beyond one side of Portland to beyond the other side of Portland. 
Compared to many, it's not a particularly long commute, though again 
it's not something I'd want to do.

But I am left wondering what makes his choices possible?  How much 
asphalt had to be laid?  How much oil has to be imported, refined, and 
processed into the gasoline that such choices require?  How much does 
that cost, including all the money our government send to "friendly" 
dictators in countries like Saudi Arabia, who are at the moment sending 
their military into Bahrain to put down a civilian uprising?  How much 
did developing a formerly rural area like east Vancouver cost, and how 
much power was consumed to do so, and how much is consumed everyday to 
keep the lights on and the washing machines spinning (oh, and the TVs 
blaring)?  Was all that energy expenditure necessary, or just desirable?

Fundamentally, I wonder why no one seems to question the very premise 
that we *need* to replace the coal and oil faster than what x, y, or z 
can deliver (or, can deliver safely).  Do we really *need* to, or do we 
want to in order to keep enabling the choices my cousin made, which are 
indistinguishable from the choices many millions of Americans have made 
over the past 60 years?

I got rid of my TV years ago, so maybe I'm not up-to-speed on how bad it 
has become, but I just don't think TV is the problem.  A couple years 
ago, I did some little online survey-thingy that measured personal 
energy consumption in # of "Planet Earths" it would take to support the 
entire human population if everyone lived as I did.  Even though I live 
in a small apartment, don't drive or own a car (I bike, walk & take 
public transit), and live in a region that gets a reasonable amount of 
power from hydro, the result still came out to just over 2 planets.  I 
won't vouch for the rigorousness of the survey's methodology, but still 
... it gave me pause.

It seems like this whole discussion has been premised on the notion that 
we must keep expanding and increasing capacity and output, and it seems 
like our industry and government act accordingly.  At what point do we 
question that premise?  At what point do we let ourselves entertain the 
notion that maybe we can't keep doing things the way we've been doing 
them -- before or after we build a $4.6 billion bridge over the 
Columbia, before or after we both replace the Sellwood Bridge *and* 
build a new light-rail/bike/ped bridge over the Willamette?  At what 
point does it dawn on us that maybe we can't keep expanding and 
increasing ad infinitum?


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