Cartoon Britain

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To simplify and streamline our discussion of demand reduction, I propose to work with a cartoon of British energy consumption, omitting lots of details in order to focus on the big picture. My cartoon-Britain consumes

While the footprint of each individual cannot be reduced to zero, the absence of an individual does do so. Chris Rapley, former Director of the British Antarctic Survey

We need fewer people, not greener ones.

Daily Telegraph, 24 July 2007

Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation.

Isaac Asimov

Figure 19.2. Population growth and emissions... Cartoon courtesy of Colin Wheeler.

energy in just three forms: heating, transport, and electricity. The heating consumption of cartoon-Britain is 40kWh per day per person (currently all supplied by fossil fuels); the transport consumption is also 40kWh per day per person (currently all supplied by fossil fuels); and the electricity consumption is 18 kWh(e) per day per person; the electricity is currently almost all generated from fossil fuels; the conversion of fossil-fuel energy to electricity is 40% efficient, so supplying 18 kWh(e) of electricity in today's cartoon-Britain requires a fossil-fuel input of 45 kWh per day per person. This simplification ignores some fairly sizeable details, such as agriculture and industry, and the embodied energy of imported goods! But I'd like to be able to have a quick conversation about the main things we need to do to get off fossil fuels. Heating, transport, and electricity account for more than half of our energy consumption, so if we can come up with a plan that delivers heating, transport, and electricity sustainably, then we have made a good step on the way to a more detailed plan that adds up.

Having adopted this cartoon of Britain, our discussions of demand reduction will have just three bits. First, how can we reduce transport's energy-demand and eliminate all fossil fuel use for transport? This is the topic of Chapter 20. Second, how can we reduce heating's energy-demand and eliminate all fossil fuel use for heating? This is the topic of Chapter 21. Third, what about electricity? Chapter 22 discusses efficiency in electricity consumption.

Three supply options - clean coal, nuclear, and other people's renew-ables - are then discussed in Chapters 23, 24, and 25. Finally, Chapter 26 discusses how to cope with fluctuations in demand and fluctuations in renewable power production.

Having laid out the demand-reducing and supply-increasing options, Chapters 27 and 28 discuss various ways to put these options together to make plans that add up, in order to supply cartoon-Britain's transport, heating, and electricity.

I could spend many pages discussing "50 things you can do to make a difference," but I think this cartoon approach, chasing the three biggest fish, should lead to more effective policies.

But what about "stuff"? According to Part I, the embodied energy in imported stuff might be the biggest fish of all! Yes, perhaps that fish is the mammoth in the room. But let's leave defossilizing that mammoth to one side, and focus on the animals over which we have direct control.

So, here we go: let's talk about transport, heating, and electricity.

current consumption losses in conversion to electricity current consumption losses in conversion to electricity

Figure 19.3. Current consumption in "cartoon-Britain 2008."

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