250,000 cups of tea for a flight to Bangkok

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This is something I learnt from Ben Craven in this week’s Design and Technology lecture. I’m fairly familiar with the energy uses of household appliances, and often turn things off when not in use (although I think this is more due to my strange phobia for ‘on’ plugs rather than energy saving). But one thing I hadn’t thought about is just how quickly all your energy saving can be cancelled out by one trip abroad.

250,000 cups? I don’t even like tea!

So, is the reason we’re “running out of energy” not in fact due to us all leaving our chargers plugged in, and spending most of our lives connected to our laptops, iPads and smartphones, but really due to these massive jets using millions of tonnes of fuel every day? Well that’s what I thought. But having just looked it up, transport accounts for 31.5% of total energy usage while households are at 25.9%.. not really that different after all. Hmm.

Ben suggested we need social change, not advancing technology. I agree this may solve the problem, but would be impossible to implement. It is human nature to grow, learn and develop, and after making these astonishing technological advances, moving backwards just doesn’t seem tempting. I think the only accepted way will be to carry on the research into renewable forms of energy. Although not technically viable yet in terms of the ratio of embodied energy to make the device compared to the energy it saves, I hope that one day we’ll get there, especially with transport fuel.

An interesting observation though, is that Qatar is the country which uses most energy per person. I was surprised by this, and then learnt that their ridiculous figures for use (almost double of 2nd country in the list, Iceland), are thought to be due to the fact that Quataris do not have to pay for water or electricity supplies. So basically – go nuts! This is quite appalling and does stress the fact that social change is needed, if only by increasing prices or implementing limits. We were 30th in the list by the way, a small victory. But not really a victory at all when we’re using 164GJ per person per year…

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