Connecting to Natural Energy Flows

25 July 2008 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

Our “Green Sanctuary” book group at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill just finished reading and discussing Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a book with so many ideas focused on the concept of energonomics or energy management that I could write a month of entries on just this one book. But I wanted to make sure I made mention of it at least once. I’m calling this book THE most important book on the planet, because I think it provides a blueprint for moving forward in sustainable living. The book proposes the elimination of waste–or, rather, the transformation of all waste into food (waste = food), which simply uses nature as its model:

Most packaging (which makes up about 50% of the volume of the municipal solid waste stream) can be designed as biological nutrients, what we call *products of consumption.* The idea is to compose these products of materials that can be tossed on the ground or compost heap to safely biodegrade after use–literally to be consumed. (105)

The concept of “connecting to natural energy flows” is ultimately a kind of energy management–an issue of energonomics:

In the long run, connecting to natural energy flows is a matter of reestablishing our fundamental connection to the source of all good growth on the planet: the sun, that tremendous nuclear power plant 93 million miles away (exactly where we want it). Even at such distances, the sun’s heat can be devastating, and it commands a healthy respect for the delicate orchestration of circumstances that makes natural energy flows possible. Humans thrive on the earth under such intense emanations of heat and light only because billions of years of evolutionary processes have created the atmosphere and surface that support our existence–the soil, plant life, and cloud cover that cool the planet down and distribute water around it, keeping the atmosphere within a temperate range that we can live in. So reestablishing our connection to the sun by definition includes maintaining interdependence with all the other ecological circumstances that make natural energy flows possible in the first place. (131-132)

Humans have come to rely on fossil fuels rather than “harnessing and maximizing local natural energy flows” (31):

For the majority of our simple energy needs, humans could be accruing a great deal of current solar income, of which there is plenty: thousands of times the amount of energy needed to fuel human activities hits the surface of the planet every day in the form of sunlight.” (31, 32)

I am happy that human ingenuity is beginning to turn its attention to capturing, storing, and efficiently employing energy. Perhaps it is not too late for us.


Entry filed under: books, energonomics, science. Tags: , , , .

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