Tasty crunchy numbers! The Economist describes this book as “geek heaven“; the author says he’s just trying to cut UK’s emissions of twaddle. David MacKay, a Cambridge physicist, wades into the data with a calculator and a touch of snark.
“Every big helps,” he says, and he takes the reader on a fact-based hunt to find the places where “big” can be implemented. He takes all energy and converts it to kWhs so that we can compare cars and pets and trans-Atlantic flights and milk. For the record, a cat consumes 2 kWh/day, each newspaper takes 2 kWh to produce and deliver, a 30-mile car ride averages 40 kWh, and an intercontinental flight averages 30 kWh/day for an entire year.
So my last flight to the US was the equivalent of driving 40 miles every day for a year (or keeping 15 cats). Cold hard math says that not even my meat-avoiding, car-free lifestyle really redeems my jet-fueled vacations. Damn. And my philosophical aversion to hairdryers (0.06 kWh per use, based on my own calculations) isn’t worth a damn either.
You can fork over $35 for the paperback, or you can download the whole PDF for free from Prof. MacKay’s website. Data-hungry readers of my nerdly blog, this book was written just for you.
Take a browse and tell me: Does the book work for you? Which figures are most surprising? Will you be doing anything differently now?
Figure 11.1 from the book.