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Life Savings

Can we save enough energy to survive?

December 31, 2009
Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy Maui LLC

Of course, 1,000 billion tons sounds like a lot. But unfortunately, we have already used up a third of this allowance in the last eight years. By 2022, we will be finished if we stay the course.

If we divide the remainder of 650 billion tons by the nine million people we expect to be on the planet in 2050, this gives each human 72 tons—for his or her entire life. That makes the allowed emissions for each person about one ton per year, or 5.4 pounds per day.

How can we save energy to scale 19 tons down to one? We can stay at home and drive only 800 miles a year or take hot showers just twice a month. That’s still easy—at least compared to switching to a vegan diet with one meal every other day.

No more flights to the Mainland, since just one one-way trip to San Francisco takes up the entire yearly allowance.

A 12-minute hot shower uses up the entire 5.4-pound daily allowance. A T-shirt made in China uses up three days. Five pounds of apples are worth one day, but a pound of steak sets you back two days. Use any more, and you will face questions from your kids in 10 or 20 years.

Oh, and then there are the hurricanes.

The solution to this riddle lies in our energy system. These emissions are the result of our burning oil, coal and gas. If we don’t burn these, the entire world can live a happy, energy-rich life.

To switch Maui’s energy system to 100 percent renewable sources, it will take a $1.5 billion investment. Everyone will be happy with it. Entrepreneurs will make money, people will get good-paying jobs and households will save on energy costs. It’s even okay with Maui Oil Company. I checked.

The $1.5 billion investment is about $2.30 per week per person until 2100. We can save the world for the cost of a cappuccino a week.



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