Friday, April 1, 2016

What Time Is It? Time for Equitable Energy

From youtube, "Wealth Inequality in America" 18 million views, graph at 5:15 mark  

With almost 19 million views to date, this 2012 chart, depicting 1% of the people in the US owning over half the wealth, was predicted by Ivan Illich in 1973.  What is anyone doing about it?

Illich in his 32 page thesis titled "Energy and Equity" mused that concentrated energy (oil) allowed time-space compression at a small relative cost to those already privileged.  He foresaw time space compression via high energy use (think private jets for individuals, F-15's for nations) would make the poor poorer, and the rich richer.  As oil production peaked, time space compression would come at ever higher relative costs to the poorest, eventually pricing them out of the market for oil.

And the many things oil is used for, like transported groceries.

Fortunately, modern woodgas power systems are restricted more by speed limits than top speed capability.

Woodgas is equitable energy at highway speeds, with a small investment in an onboard bio-refinery.

Safe, Clean, Obtainable, and Restorative are great features for the energy of the future that is already possible today.

However equity may be the most appealing feature of biomass energy, because it will drive culture change from an unsustainable exponential curve, back toward the normal curve typical of healthy systems. 

Normal Curve Distribution - Fat in the middle, tapers on both ends

Systems that get "out of whack", tend to move back toward normal.  The farther away from normal, the greater the potential for a catastrophic "immune response".

That warning was the purpose of the youtube listed above "Wealth Inequality in America"  A "snap back" warning was also found in the closing sections of Illich's "Energy and Equity". 

"Liberation which comes cheap to the poor will cost the rich dear, but they will pay its price once the acceleration of their transportation systems grinds traffic to a halt."  - Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity
The good news is that equitable energy is already being done.  And it works well for practitioners and the environment.

African Christians Organizing Network

ACON in Kenya provides an entire value chain from fuel production to stove manufacturing, distribution, sales, and maintenance. 

Pyrolytic stoves generate a byproduct that is beneficial for soils. The charcoal residue (biochar) increases food security for rural households in Kenya. The fuel briquettes produced by ACON are derived from an invasive species growing on Lake Victoria.
ACON harvests water hyacinth plants, crushes the liquids out of them (which is also used as a soil nutrient), dries and compresses them into fuel briquettes for the ACON manufactured stoves. 

These activities result in the following benefits:
* remove invasive species from Lake Victoria
* create fuel that can be used in place of forest wood, preserving forests to provide sustainable fresh water storage and microclimate stabilization in the region.
* employment cleaning up the Lake and selling fuel briquettes
* clean and efficient pyrolytic cook stoves that generate biochar as a byproduct of cooking daily household meals and heating water. These stoves also reduce indoor air pollution and reduce fuel purchase costs for the household.
* the stoves generate biochar, a highly effective soil restructuring agent for plant productivity, additional benefits to food security from household gardens are realized.

ACON isn't doing anything that can't be done in most inhabited places on earth.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer