Finance Friday – August 19, 2016

67.4 quadrillion BTU’s.


This is the total amount of energy waste in the US – a whopping 62% of all that’s produced each year.

Before you jump in to comment, a note that this is really neat data – newly compiled at energy by MacArthur genius award-winner Saul Griffith and his team at Otherlab. Huge thanks to ThinkProgress and FastCompany for highlighting this work! Check out the massive infographic, where you can explore data sorted by source of production, uses by sector, uses by application, and much more. And the video of Griffith’s talk explains their awesome cheeseburger unit of consumption as well. [Apparently lots of people are finding this data fascinating, since their site has had some downtime, but keep exploring and you will find that new insights and new questions quickly emerge.]

That humongous 62% really not so shocking, when you consider that energy production itself is inefficient, and the distribution is inefficient, and all of our motors and engines and switches are inefficient… each layer leaking a little more usefulness out along the way.

However, the giant number does suggest that we are massively under-focused-on and under-invested-in waste reduction, at every level. Just for reference, if we cut this total waste in half, it’s an amount equal to nearly all US petroleum use (92%, to be exact). Saving never seems as alluring as creating, but it sure makes sense – and it’s likely to be hugely profitable, too.

“A small leak will sink a great ship.”  – Benjamin Franklin


(BTW, the same under-focus and under-investment is true for food waste, which we’ll highlight next week).



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