What kinds and extents of inefficient use of energy exist in our economic system? We have many anecdotes, but have never really collected data on this in the belief that somehow, shipping apples across continents to “wax” and shipping them back to put on shelves is justifiable because people are paying for it. How much are we buying that we rarely use, or just throw away wholesale when a tiny component could be repaired? How much does food – a need that can mostly just be served locally – travel overall? And how much the supply chain add to waste and additional energy spent on it? Water? What other inefficiencies can we spot and eliminate?
How do we estimate these numbers? It might very well turn out that we don’t need nearly the level of energy we assume we do, if we drive these optimizations and less wasteful methods and behaviours. The trash, and pollution as byproducts is an additional issue.
Unless we address this core thing – that we don’t acknowledge, far less measure and then pretend doesn’t exist because “no data” – we’re unlikely to solve climate change. Everything else is a band aid, and will at best buy a few years.
Food production, distribution and consumption are significant factors that are often overlooked, and there is paucity of enough data there. Especially the latest trend of consuming international food and the carbon foot print it carries- that data is hardly discussed.
Energy use in itself is not an issue at all. The sun dumps 1.74 x
10^17 W on earth every year. What we use and misuse is miniscule in comparison.
At this time, what matters is how we produce that energy. The consequences of producing the energy in terms of the environment and climate is what should concern humanity the most.
What we do with the energy and whether that is wasteful or useful is extremely subjective and really cannot be qualified as such.
To call something wasteful depends of perception of need and to make a judgement opens up each call to debate that cannot be settled.
Is it wasteful to drive a car ? Use ACs ? Fly on aeroplanes? Hot water baths a waste of power? Wasteful to reheat meals if someone is late for dinner?
Where exactly do you draw the line for ‘reasonable’ vs ‘wasteful’ ?
Easier to replace the methods of energy production to less polluting ones and improve efficiency of the devices that consume energy. More lumens per watt, more miles per gallon, more Tons x hours of Airconditioning per KwH , More passenger km per gallon of fuel and so on.
Solving problems rather than judging people works better