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Impacts of energy on sustainability

Reading the headline of this blog you most probably ask yourself the question „is there something else out there?” My answer is: “yes”, otherwise I wouldn’t start this blog. Last week I read the blog from Eddy discussing the measurement of energy consumption related to a meeting. I read this blog and asked me: “what is the message behind?” 80 Kg of carbon footprint is about the emission of a 400 km auto drive. “Do I have to compare meetings with auto drives?

Then I got the message beyond: “do we need to perform actions which are affordable?” In the context of Eddy’s contribution: the purpose of that meeting (he didn’t disclose). Also he didn’t discuss alternatives like telephone-conferencing.

With this blog I like to draw your attention to a couple of situations which seem to contradict among themselves. Other situations might get in a conflict to what is meant by people “to be logical”. Already at this point in the discussion I make you aware of a new situation in which I raise more questions as I might answer in near future. But I (at least) perceive that as natural to the this topic: sustainability is a high level of complexity among interrelated topics. Solving those topics one ather eachother might indicate progress, but reality might be different. 

A couple of weeks ago I caught the message from news on television “a search with google is of the same size (emission) as a drive of 56 meter with a normal car”. Strange but true, every time a start now a search at google I ask myself about the necessity for this search (or the equivalent car drive).

There are not only such questions in relation to the consumption of energy. Also the production of energy has impacts on sustainability. Example Short after the opening of the inner-German border in the early 90’s utility companies started to build wind-mill parks on the eastern German moor lands. A couple of years later scientists observed a change in nature, the habitats changed. Reasoning: due to the shadow of the rotating wings of the wind mill, there was a constant disturbance on the ground. That led to the disappearance of insects in that neighbourhood, resulting in a very incomplete fructification of the plants and therefore almost no berries. The wood grouse (German: auerhahn) and black **** (German: birkhahn), very famous but seldom wild-life birds, disappeared from those surroundings. Now as we know such impacts of wind-mill parks we have to ask ourselves about the most suitable places or to incorporate the impairment upfront in the planning process before exploration of such a park is started.

Today, March 18 2008, Rudolf (Karl) Diesel’s birthday is 150 years ago. Among the different interesting stories about engines, I would like to point here to their efficiency. Diesel-engines have an efficiency of 45% compared to Otto-engines of 37% (transfer of fossil energy in kinetic energy).  In other words: Diesel is about 20% more efficient. Does that imply, we should drive 20% more with a diesel? This because the costs remain the same? This is once again the necessity question.

There is a new ad on German Television: a utility company explains the production of gas using biomass out of grass. Especially from not-used meadows. Visualisation of that add is good, but there is no indication on efficiency and quantity of energy produced in that way. Please realize that not-used meadows or fallow land is not used by people, but it’s used by fauna and flora. Cutting grass has an impact on that wild-life which either needs the plants for feed or for protection against predators.

In a contribution in my private blog on CSR I pointed to holiday travels. In that context the question arrases: “what is the value of French fries and Schnitzel on Mallorca?” Or “why to have a cruiser on one of the jungle rivers in Ecuador/Venezuela?”

Back to Eddy’s blog as we can’t stop energy consumption: “what do we do with the knowledge, that this meeting produced that carbon footprint?”

Kind regards Paul

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