Unleashing US Energy Efficiency Potential

Unlocking Energy Efficiency

“Energy efficiency offers a vast, low-cost energy resource for the US economy – but only if the nation can craft a comprehensive and innovative approach to unlock it. Significant and persistent barriers will need to be addressed at multiple levels to stimulate demand for energy efficiency and manage its delivery across more than 100 million buildings and literally billions of devices. If executed at scale, a holistic approach would yield gross energy savings worth more than $1.2 trillion, well above the $520 billion needed through 2020 for upfront investment in efficiency measures . . . . Such a program is estimated to reduce end-use energy consumption in 2020 by 9.1 quadrillion BTUs, roughly 23 percent of projected demand, potentially abating up to 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually.”
— Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the US Economy

“Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the US Economy” is a voluminous new 165-page study by McKinsey & Company which seeks to “enable the development of thoughtful strategies for improving . . . energy productivity in the US economy.”

As they explain in the course of their executive summary, “our research indicates that by 2020, the United States could reduce annual energy usage consumption by 23 percent from a business-as-usual . . . projection by deploying an array of NPV-positive [net-present-value-positive] efficiency measures, saving 9.1 quadrillion BTUs of end-use energy (18.4 quadrillion BTUs in primary energy).”

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Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Extraterrestrial Nature Preservation

The Martian Moon Deimos

The Martian Moon Deimos

Here is an interesting little two-page document presented at the NLSI Lunar Science Conference by E.C. Hargrove of the University of North Texas on “The Preservation of Non-Biological Environments in the Solar System”.

An excerpt:

“NASA should plan on setting aside the Apollo landing sites as protected areas on historical grounds. Extreme caution should be taken in approaching these sites since adding to the footprints at these sites may come to be considered vandalism. Likewise, NASA employees should avoid writing their names on natural formations that they encounter. Extreme care should be taken in mining on the Moon to ensure that the surface of the Moon is not visibly altered from the perspective of viewers on Earth. If strip mining is undertaken on the Moon, efforts should be made to restore those areas to a natural look if at all possible. If restoration is not possible, NASA should consider doing its mining on the backside of the Moon where it is less likely to generate protest. Another possibility might be to use the damaged areas for new construction or as last resort to turn them into earthworks, so that they are at least considered artistic. Although earthworks on Earth are themselves controversial, they may be a better alternative to doing nothing.

“The introduction of life forms into a non-biological environment should be undertaken with great caution. Generally, the introduction of a life form from one part of Earth to another is a dismal failure. However, when it is not, that success is often followed by unsuccessful attempts to undo the damaged caused. The Moon or Mars covered with some odd microbial foam would be damaging to NASA’s image and would make it difficult to study the natural history of such celestial bodies, an unpleasant prospect, since such study will be a key way for NASA to maintain interest in its programs.”

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Galaxy NGC 1097

Galaxy NGC 1097 (Spitzer Space Telescope)

Galaxy NGC 1097 (Spitzer Space Telescope)

Forty-five million light years away, spiral galaxy NGC 1097 revolves around a massive black hole 100 million times the mass of our sun. (In contrast, the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is just a few million times our sun’s mass.)

For more information about galaxy NGC 1097, or about the Spitzer Space Telescope with which this image was taken, see this focus on NGC 1097 or the primary Spitzer Telescope website.

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Anak Krakatoa Update

19th Century Woodcut of Krakatoa

19th Century Woodcut of Krakatoa

Last year we discussed the destructive explosion which destroyed the island of Krakatoa in three separate posts: Anak Krakatoa on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa, a brief review of Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa, and in Preview: A New Human, a preliminary look at our subsequent review of A New Human, Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee’s book on the discovery of the Flores Island “hobbit,” Homo floresiensis.

Now, the Mail Online offers a series of spectacular images of the most recent eruption of Anak Krakatoa – the successor island, “son of Krakatoa,” now grown to nearly half the size of Krakatoa when it detonated — photographed by Marco Fulle.

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 9:53 am  Comments (1)