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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-16-05, 09:08 PM   #1
ViciousCycle
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individual energy consumption equals having 150 slaves

"If we were to add together the power of all the fuel-fed machines that we rely on to light and heat our homes, transport us, and otherwise keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed, and then compare that total with the amount of power that can be generated by the human body, we would find that each American has the equivalent of over 150 'energy slaves' working for us 24 hours a day. In energy terms, each middle-class American is living a lifestyle so lavish as to make nearly any sultan or potentate in history swoon with envy."
-- p.30-31, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg

It's amazing how readable this book on the politics and science of energy can be.....
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Old 09-16-05, 11:47 PM   #2
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and if a frog could fly, it wouldn't bump it's a$$ a hoppin'
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Old 09-17-05, 12:03 AM   #3
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Heinberg is right, the guy who wrote "Radical Simplicity" has worked it out too, people laugh when they hear the 150 slaves bit but it's true, work the numbers and you'll see.
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Old 09-17-05, 01:11 AM   #4
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Then somebody get me just one more, to clean the house for me

(I'm not making fun, really, I can believe it)
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Old 09-17-05, 05:37 AM   #5
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There are researchers who even conjecture that the [temporary] abundance of cheap fossil fuel played a role in the ending of slavery in the U.S. As Heinberg puts it,
"The realization (by the industrial northern states) that America's future wealth lay far more in the extraction and use of concentrated fuels than in the continued reliance (by the agriarian southern states) on kidnapped muscle power may have played a role in the freeing of slaves."

Heinberg provides good metaphors for the elusive concept of "sustainability." Other writers often talk about reducing one's "footprint." But thinking about the number of "energy slaves" that one maintains puts a human face on the problem. i.e. If the fossil fuels that I used suddenly disappeared, how many slaves would need be needed to do the equivalent amount of work?

In the typical automobile, 98% of the energy is used just to move the automobile itself. Not the passengers, not the cargo, just the vehicle itself. Enormous ineffiency. Many slave holders would have done quite terribly operating at this level of inefficieny.
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Old 09-17-05, 11:58 AM   #6
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Vicious you may have a very good point there - in the 1850s is where the coal/oil age really began. Many in the Old South saw no problem with slavery since after all the Romans, Egyptians, all the "great" classical civ's used them. England ended slavery sooner than the US, about 50 years sooner I believe, interestingly they were about 50 years ahead of us in industrializing too.

Other factors may have been that with more productivity you get a higher population and plenty of people begging to work cheap, so are you going to buy a slave, or simply hire ppl by the day? Slaves had to be taken care of when old or sick, employees could be fired when they got sick, injured, or just plain worn out.

But all the same, the concept of energy slaves is a very good one. This is why our model for the future needs to be The Amish, not The Donald.
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Old 09-17-05, 08:42 PM   #7
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So the end of oil means bicycles for the rich, and slavery for the poor! Hoo-ray!
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Old 09-17-05, 09:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
Many in the Old South saw no problem with slavery since after all the Romans, Egyptians, all the "great" classical civ's used them. England ended slavery sooner than the US, about 50 years sooner I believe, interestingly they were about 50 years ahead of us in industrializing too.
Many in the old south still don't see a problem with it. Many down there do not want to see anything done about illegal immigration for that very reason - it is their source of cheap and disposable labor.
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Old 09-17-05, 10:29 PM   #9
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Not just the south, but the north, everywhere. The American working class are the ones against the illegal immigrants, the upper middle class and up love them because they're cheap, docile labor, and they don't have to live cheek by jowl with them (working class have to, and there's a lot of friction, mostly just plain culture differences, and a bit of the old crime element).

Since the working class have very little power in the US and the wealthy have tons of power, this might explain why we can't seem to keep those darned illegals out. And why the best thing for the US working class is for things to get better for the working class EVERYWHERE.

But yes, energy slaves ........ it's a very handy way to think about how much energy we consume. Base example: some Indians out on the prairie, how many energy slaves do they have? None! Everything they gather, hunt, make, use, is done by themselves. Papa goes out hunting, Mama makes clothes and keeps the home neatened up and gathers, if you're wearing some nice mocs it's because your friend made them, while you're good at making arrows and traded them for them. And these guys lived a pretty good life! They managed it without 150 energy slaves, isn't that strange? But in the US and in the first world in general, people are working long hours, to own THINGS that take a tremendous amount of energy to make, and not any happier than they'd be sitting on a buffalo skin and eating jerky and thinking up a new song for the campfire that night.
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Old 09-18-05, 12:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by lilHinault
Not just the south, but the north, everywhere. The American working class are the ones against the illegal immigrants, the upper middle class and up love them because they're cheap, docile labor, and they don't have to live cheek by jowl with them (working class have to, and there's a lot of friction, mostly just plain culture differences, and a bit of the old crime element).

Since the working class have very little power in the US and the wealthy have tons of power, this might explain why we can't seem to keep those darned illegals out. And why the best thing for the US working class is for things to get better for the working class EVERYWHERE.

But yes, energy slaves ........ it's a very handy way to think about how much energy we consume. Base example: some Indians out on the prairie, how many energy slaves do they have? None! Everything they gather, hunt, make, use, is done by themselves. Papa goes out hunting, Mama makes clothes and keeps the home neatened up and gathers, if you're wearing some nice mocs it's because your friend made them, while you're good at making arrows and traded them for them. And these guys lived a pretty good life! They managed it without 150 energy slaves, isn't that strange? But in the US and in the first world in general, people are working long hours, to own THINGS that take a tremendous amount of energy to make, and not any happier than they'd be sitting on a buffalo skin and eating jerky and thinking up a new song for the campfire that night.

Yeah, but there were a lot fewer of them. As population increases, technology has to increase in order to more efficiently extract resources to keep these people going. To increase efficiency, you have to increase specialization. In increasing specialization, you increase interdependency. With increasing interdependency, more social control becomes neccesary, because of the massively increased impact that we have on each other.

Basically, population growth-->technological progress-->decreasing human freedom
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Old 09-18-05, 03:07 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by genericbikedude
Yeah, but there were a lot fewer of them. As population increases, technology has to increase in order to more efficiently extract resources to keep these people going. To increase efficiency, you have to increase specialization. In increasing specialization, you increase interdependency. With increasing interdependency, more social control becomes neccesary, because of the massively increased impact that we have on each other.

Basically, population growth-->technological progress-->decreasing human freedom
BINGO!!! Give that boy a Powerbar! Yes, population needs to go WAY down, voluntarily or Nature's going to decrease it for us.
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Old 09-30-05, 12:45 PM   #12
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Perhaps another way of looking at the way the first world is consuming more and more energy is the extreme pressure to purchase items brought on by the advertising firms. The more the working class and the immigrants from the third world breed, the more money is made to the right people and that what drives our society and new slavery.
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Old 09-30-05, 04:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genericbikedude
Yeah, but there were a lot fewer of them. As population increases, technology has to increase in order to more efficiently extract resources to keep these people going. To increase efficiency, you have to increase specialization. In increasing specialization, you increase interdependency. With increasing interdependency, more social control becomes neccesary, because of the massively increased impact that we have on each other.

Basically, population growth-->technological progress-->decreasing human freedom
It seems to me that we have more personal freedom now than we did 100 years ago or especially 1000 years ago. Also, it seems that people living in indistrially developed nations have more personal freedom than those living is undeveloped nations.

Not so?
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Old 09-30-05, 11:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ViciousCycle
"If we were to add together the power of all the fuel-fed machines that we rely on to light and heat our homes, transport us, and otherwise keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed, and then compare that total with the amount of power that can be generated by the human body, we would find that each American has the equivalent of over 150 'energy slaves' working for us 24 hours a day. In energy terms, each middle-class American is living a lifestyle so lavish as to make nearly any sultan or potentate in history swoon with envy."
-- p.30-31, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg

It's amazing how readable this book on the politics and science of energy can be.....
Maybe it's good but stick "slaves" in a sentence and I get a mental yield sign. Can you paraphrase or use an analogy I know about?
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