By Hugh Abner
[48 Years and Counting Manufacturing Batteries and Battery Machinery]
Quickly let me identify the source of my interest for this subject. Yes, it is a book I am reading. In fact I have not even finished it but my excitement is so great that I cannot wait to begin sharing. I even hope I might share something which any of you might find to be argumentative. You see, we – as world citizens – have really gathered in the low hanging fruits. We – mostly you younger people – are going to be forced to climb higher but if it is done properly you, or the ones coming behind you, will not be just keeping up or only maintaining the status quo. Of course, that is one of the options of the future, that is, to keep on going just enough not to experience total failure. And yes, total failure is also an option.
Okay, what the hell am I referring too? What’s the big problem? Well, some of the key-words are: Water, Weather, Food. These three are a good start because we can connect each to Plant Life. I almost stated it as Plant and Animal Life but that would be redundant: No Plants = No Animals. Let’s include animals though because it makes it clear that we are talking very much about us, the human animal, and here is where we can all take an interest.
The book? Oh yes – The Infinite Resource by Ramez Naam and copyrighted this year 2013. Now my title for this blog, IPAT, comes from the book but it really came from some studies done in the 1970s by Paul Ehrlich, Bill McKibben, Paul Gilding and Richard Heinberg. IPAT is an acronym for a mathematical formula: I = P X A X T. (I for Impact, P for people, A for Affluence and T for Technology). Impact has to do with our shared home: the Earth. The formula can be maneuvered around so the results can be tragic or utopic. The important thing – I think – even though I have not finished the book is that all of it is strictly up to us – uuhhh, you younger people. Us older ones are still struggling with the issue as to whether or not humans can even impact the earth. To try to be fair here though there are some elders that are catching on and if I say anymore on the subject my words will become blood red political. So, I will change my direction. The author has not dwelled expressly on politics either so far but in Part One he uses historical facts to explain the good stuff humans have done in the past to bring many of us to the easy street we live on today. Then in Part Two he clearly explains our “fruit-basket” shortages and there are many. He does this under the banner of Peak-Everything. It is here on pages loaded with documented fact illustrated with economical charts that (Peak-Oil) or our energy concerns are highlighted. It is here that carbon dioxide and the heating of the earth is made plain and simple. At least it is made so simple that an interested person learns what numbers to be concerned with going forward. No doubt if you read the science news of last month you know that we are at a 400 PPM carbon dioxide level in our atmosphere and it has been millions of years since we have had that experience. We can live with it but we need to begin paying attention. Those of us fortunate enough to live in advanced societies then have the duty to be concerned with energy related problems as well as food. The poor struggle each day with the food problem but one of these days enough of us fortunate ones will awaken. Just yesterday I read the remarks of a jerk that implied how wealth comes to those that work hard enough for it. OOPs, there I go again getting off track.
As battery people we can play parts in P, A and T but I will not go into it here for I prefer for you to give it your own thoughts and maybe sharing. I will say that in the technology area we seem to be “hooked to the plow” but also by remaining with an agrarian analysis it can be said that we are “sowing seeds” but it is very unclear which battery technology will “take root” for our utopic “harvest?” Where will lead-acid be, or lithium-ion, or fuel-cells, or what-ever? Most certainly it will be some complicated mixture because the easy days of simple low hanging fruit is over.
Today I am moving on into Part Three and I have been assured that Parts One and Two were specifically designed to put fear in my soul but for the remainder of the book hope is given and it will be built upon the word – INNOVATION.