I’ve spent my 50-plus years believing in working hard, being responsible and getting along. Invest, save, follow the rules, be a good boy. Yet I find myself in a world I cannot believe in, with a life that feels worthless. What have I done? What…
Imagine how different your life would be if next Earth Day a year from now, yousupplied the power to this computer—by pedaling, churning or dancing. The way these students in Pendleton, Indiana, did, when they managed to run lights, a TV and a DVD player off of stationary bikes.
You’d use less oil, natural gas and coal, because you’d be taking less electricity from the grid. So you’d help lower the world’s risks of climate catastrophe from global warming and a political meltdown from wars over dwindling resources. And there’d be another nudge toward peace in your routine: A newfound solidarity with the rest of humanity. Right now the world’s richest billion or so people live like demigods, able to fly across oceans while watching old sitcoms, and to click on a website to order strawberries delivered in the depths of winter. Meanwhile the rest of the human race lives by hard labor. Were everyone to make some of his own electricity, this gap would narrow. A family in Orlando would still have way more gadgets than a family in Ougadougou. But both households, in order to make a screen light up, would have to do the same physical work.
I’m not imagining a Flintstones world. Power that serves society as a whole—that keeps cops’ radios on, and heart monitors beeping, and fire trucks’ sirens wailing—we would still expect from the grid. Refrigerators and freezers need constant power but people can’t pedal 24/7, so, exempt those too. That still leaves cell phones, computers, TV’s, coffeemakers, the i’s Pod and Pad, and a host of other personal gadgets. Yes, factories, offices and stores use most of the energy consumed by humanity, but private households still matter. They account for 22 percent of energy consumption in the world’s richest nations, according to this United Nations report.
I bet this “targeted killing" won’t be the last one. Even if you’re American your government can kill you now. In a bizarre way this is even just. Until now only other nationals got killed by Americans.