Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where a lot of energy goes

One of the great costs of U.S. military involvement is energy. The amount of fuel used by our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan make them the largest single consumer of energy in the world (except, obviously, the whole U.S.) For some interesting energy facts gleaned from government and industry sources, see this article about military consumption. Remember that our armies don't plug their appliances into indiginous outlets: they carry and use their own generating facilities which burn petroleum products that they haul with them; similarly, tanks and armored vehicles don't buy their gas at roadside pumps in Iraq, for example: they buy it from private U.S. corporations who charge premium prices and probably have no-bid contracts; I doubt that they offer Super Saver Thursday discounts either.

It is useful to remember this when you buy gasoline: the price at the pump reflects the competition between you and the military.

Another reason for high energy costs is the existence of people who use more than their share. This includes not only drivers of gas guzzlers -- they've already been taken to task -- but also the folks who build the large "McMansion" houses. Even relatively efficient ones still require a lot of energy to heat because of their large surface area. Heated garages and large windows also make their owners energy hogs.

Without any fancy technology we can cut our energy costs and keep excess carbon out of the atmosphere by simply controlling sprawling houses via zoning restrictions, eliminating gas guzzling cars, and controlling the testoterone levels of politicians and generals who think we need to solve our problems via an intense military presence throughout the world.

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