To focus on energy efficiency is to make present ways of life non-negotiable. However, transforming present ways of life is key to mitigating climate change and decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels.
Digital fabrication is praised as the future of manufacturing. Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machine tools can convert a digital design into an object with the click of a mouse, which means the production process is completely automated. The use of digital machine tools has spread rapidly in factories over the last two decades, and they have now become cheap and user-friendly enough to bring them within reach of workshops and makers.
While CNC machines have been embraced by many, including some environmentalists who say the technology can be more sustainable, it's important to consider the very high energy use of digital machine tools. Compared to the earlier generation of human-controlled machine tools, CNC machines use much more power, and the potential to improve their energy efficiency is very limited. Choosing fewer automated technologies is the key to sustainable manufacturing.
The incandescent light bulb is abused by environmentalists – but the alternative will only raise energy consumption. More and more, compact fluorescent lamps are considered to be an interim technology, awaiting the arrival of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs).
At the moment, LED technology is no competition for the incandescent light bulb. However, it can be considered a worthy improvement of another technology: neon lights. Whether or not white LEDs will finally arrive, the success of coloured LEDs is a fact. Though some of them are definitely useful, they all introduce lighting in places and situations where there was no lighting before.
If we cut the average speed of all vehicles by half, fuel consumption would decrease by a whopping 75 percent.
Breaking speed records was an almost daily occurence throughout the 20th century. Cars, ships, planes and trains became faster and faster, year after year. Because the power needed to push an object through air increases with the cube of velocity, this race to ever higher speeds raises energy consumption exponentially.
Engineers treat velocity as a non-variable, while in fact it is the most powerful factor to save a really huge amount of energy - with just one stroke, at minimal cost, and without the need for new technology. Lower speeds combined with more energy efficient engines, better aerodynamics and lighter materials could make fuel savings even larger. Picture : Mando Maniac
These are all original, scanned leaflets of the legendary French hippie car "2CV" or "Deux Chevaux" (known as the "duck" or the "goat" in several European countries). In spite of all the high-tech that has been squeezed into cars since then, the 2CV from 1949 is still more energy efficient than the smallest model of the French car designer today. Why?