Imagine that of every 100 hours of work that you do, 99 hours would be spent on lunches & coffee breaks and only 1 hour would actually be spent on work that is actually productive. If this sounds ridiculous, think about it next time you get into a car.
In a typical combustion engine car about 80% of the energy created by the engine becomes heat, only the remaining 20% is actually transformed into locomotion. Those 20% are used to move the combined weight of you and the car itself – your weight is only about 5% of that. So only 5% of the locmotive energy is used to move you from place to place – that equals 1% of the total energy created by the car engine. Terribly inefficient.
This information comes from a book titled “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution” (which is also available as downloadable PDF’s). I have only started reading it and am currently in the second chapter which is about the automotive industry. I am enjoying it.
Yet as I read it I can’t help but thinking that there is a very basic perspective missing altogether, not just from this book, but from many so called “ecological” endeavors. How much energy can be conserved through personal awareness and lifestyle changes – such as driving less? One of the deeply planted hooks that the industrial revolution has left in greater society is consumerism. Would the automotive industry continue to evolve as is amazingly outlined in the book knowing that the number of cars sold worldwide would drop drastically? Would they actively work and support such a reduction?
What is the vision/motivation that drives the automotive industry? Is it about “creating efficient transportation for the greater needs of society” or “making a profit by selling vehicles”? Though some (mostly business stakeholders) claim that two such motivations can live in harmony, I believe that they are very different points of origin and that they lead into very different journeys.