Cartoons and Odd Statistics
A couple of items crossed my desk in the past week or so (or more accurately, crossed my computer screen) that I cannot resist mentioning, although both are a little off my usual themes.
The first item is a wonderful cartoon by Tim Newcomb that a fellow blogger, Meredith Angwin, has gotten permission from the artist to publish. I just recently met Meredith in person for the first time at the recent American Nuclear Society meeting in Washington, DC, although I have been following her blog on Vermont Yankee for some time. Rather than copy her and get permission to publish the cartoon myself, I thought I'd simply refer readers to her excellent blog. The cartoon picks up on one of my pet peeves--that is, the fact that people who don't want nuclear power because of its perceived risk also don't want fossil fuels because they are polluting, or windmills because they despoil the natural landscape, or solar power because it is too expensive. And yet, they want all the benefits of ample, reliable supplies of affordable energy, and they don't want to give up any nice-to-have "toys" that use energy. A picture is worth a thousand words, and Tim's cartoon is far better than my narrative. You gotta see this one!
The second item is a report on a study that shows that, in highly industrialized countries like the US, on average we generate less CO2 per capita as we get older! As a baby boomer myself, my first thought was, "Now there's a benefit of aging that I'd never thought about!" It makes some sense, of course. Initially, as people become empty nesters, many of them indulge in personal travel they'd put off while raising a family and paying college tuitions--and their per capita energy use rises temporarily. However, in the longer term, many of them drive less and move into smaller residences. This finding points out that we cannot simply multiply a single rate of energy use by the entire size of the population. That may make some difference from a policy and planning standpoint. However, the reduction was not that dramatic, and it strikes me this could change over time as people stay healthier and more active to older ages (I hope!), or as modern, energy-consuming technology is used more and more to maintain the lives and activities of an aging population. So I don't want to make too much of this fact. Perhaps the greatest message is that the study shows--once again--how complicated the supply and demand picture really is.