Americans Use 11,000 Watts to Live

Did you know a human being at rest only uses 90 watts? Or that a hunter-gatherer needs about 250 watts to hunt and find food? What about the average American? According to Geoffrey West, a distinguished theoretical physicist, the answer is enormous:

"Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts."

11,000 watts! Biologically, as an animal grows in size it's supposed to slow down, not go faster. A mouse is fast because it's small, an elephant is slow because it's big—all that mass needs energy. To put it in perspective, our lifestyle requires more watts than that of a blue whale. And if we keep going on that pace, resources will run out and we have to change and innovate. West goes on:

We clear-cut forests, and so we turn to oil; once we exhaust our fossil-fuel reserves, we'll start driving electric cars, at least until we run out of lithium.

In essence, the only way to solve our current problems is to create new problems. Read the rest of Geoffrey West and his interesting theories here. [NY Times via jeffstaple]