Read: Lighting the World

I have mixed feelings about this book, like most books. Jim Rogers, the author and former chairman of massive energy company, doesn’t provide solutions just hope and a few predictions if you will. You can’t really knock him for this because the problem in insanely complex and at the heart of the issue are a million things that could go wrong. The issue here is the 1.2 billion people without power. Many located in rural areas. Why? How? What would the impact be? I’ll ding Jim for offering a mild endorsement of fracking, which I think is a major mistake, but what do I know other than I see the impact of this technique in many of the places I live and explore and I can’t find ANYTHING about fracking I find remotely good as a long-term, non-poisonous energy solution. (Just drive West Texas if you want to see destruction.)

I think what Rogers and the rest of the people working in this field are facing is the need for a shift in collective mindset. We hear about this all the time. Like some joker in lotus on some remote beach telling me how to get reconnected as the same guy spends the rest of the day mining his IG account so he can buy more shit to look even cooler to gain more following. My point? We as a species, in great part, are full of shit. Phony. It’s easy to talk and to play guru but as the Tibetans say “The path to salvation is as thin as a razor’s edge.” We ALL have to change our philosophy about life, and I just can’t see this happening anytime soon.

However, this game has an end if we continue to play under current rules. And that end will be a violent one. I LOVE renewable energy. Not just because it makes sense but also because it’s actually damn cool. I actually think about solar when I’m daydreaming. That doesn’t make me weird does it? In any case we are now reaching a a point where we HAVE to start taking action. If we don’t we probably die out as a species. (Cue soundtrack to Platoon here.)

I would get this book and read it. I really would. If only to get your mind open to new things and also to some of the new companies working in this field.(There are some really cool things happening.)

I’ll leave you with one jarring fact from the book.

The poor spend 37 billion a year on bad energy. (Unreliable, dangerous, polluting.)

24 Comments on “Read: Lighting the World”

  1. We have solar and a Chevy Bolt. The cost to charge it is the equivalent of $1.20 gallon gas for a car that gets 35 mpg.

    1. TOMMY! I was literally going to call you yesterday but then I passed by a mirror and lost my entire day! We are still driving the 10-year-old Prius with 160,000 and counting. Amy has literally beaten it to a pulp, and it’s been hit three times, but never had to do a single thing to it other than replace a few bulbs. But, we are looking at new Leaf. Larger than Bolt. Or the Volt. Not sure yet. A friend in Texas is running his Tesla off his solar house. I’m in the market for a small, portable solar power supply. I’ll be up in SF next month. I’d love to hang if you are around.

  2. Hey if you ever get up as far north as Seattle, ping me! I’d love to buy you a beverage of your choice and meet the man behind the books. I promise not to consume much of your time, and that I’m harmless.

  3. A big part of my day job is working with oil & gas companies. I’ve done work in refineries, oil rigs, pump jacks and on the equipment used for fracking sites. It’s a mess.

    There’s something to be said about not having electricity. A number of years ago when I was in Samoa, I visited a village that had just gotten electricity (solar) a few months earlier. They still weren’t dependent on it. Photographing the kids as they played outside in the late afternoon was a highlight of the whole trip. Tag. Volleyball. Just chasing each other around. Simplicity. I know there are obstacles with life like that but it was refreshing to view it with 21st century eyes.

    1. Sean,
      He talks about this in the book. Somewhat of a what if? When you realize people want TV’s it’s somewhat heartbreaking, but when you realize what NOT having it does to their future it’s a tough thing to figure out. Take Africa for example. No light in many villages which means kids can’t read or study at night without burning kerosene, the fuel of choice, and one that kills many people every year and sickens millions more. So you can’t read, which means you can’t study which means you can’t qualify for schools. Or women in refugee camps who get assaulted on the way to the toilet at night. He doesn’t have a solution, not sure anyone does. He also talks about friends in NYC who sold everything and moved to small town in Latin America where they were off the grid. They didn’t last long and were back in NYC before the dust settled. I run a pretty quiet ship here. My water bill is nothing and most of the time my house has little more than one light on at a time. But I still want solar! I could probably run all of my energy needs off a small solar generator.

      1. Tough questions for sure. Lots of catch 22s.

        Certain people have the capability to embrace off the grid. They are rare. You are one. I could do it. My wife, probably not. I read a great book not too long ago. Solitude by Robert Kull. He checked out. Had the Chilean Navy drop him off on an island in the middle of a lake in the Patagonia wilderness. Brought in the wood to build a cabin. Lived there for a year. Broke the cabin down and packed it all out. Great read.

        I would love to put solar on our place. Unfortunately, it’s cost prohibitive. Another of those catch 22s. Do my best to run as lean as possible.

        1. Sean,
          Oh man, right up my alley. Gotta read that. The book says that solar is going to drop by 40%, but not sure that’s happened quite yet. Although, ran into a friend a few day ago and they just went for it on their house in Laguna. The book also says that devices and systems have to have the right design, like Apple products, to get people to really dive in. This was what got my friend to go solar. They saw a giant, white battery at Tesla and asked what it was. Boom. Done.

        2. Sean, I’m curious. Solar has dropped dramatically in price and there is still a 30% federal tax credit. It’s never been more affordable. Are you in California? It should be well worth it. I was in the business for 10 years, now I’m in commercial Energy Management. We have solar and a Chevy Bolt. We are so happy with both. Happy to be a resource to evaluate your situation.

          1. Tom, thanks for your offer. I’m in Denver and admittedly, I have not priced it recently. We first looked into it 3 or 4 years ago and the cost was roughly 12-15k, outright purchase, not a lease. Quite a bit more than I can comfortably take on right now. But, if you have some pointers, I’d be interested in taking another look.

            Btw, day job occasionally has me working on industrial energy management projects. Large scale manufacturing facilities.

          2. Sean,

            Solar is far cheaper than 3-4 years ago. It should be about $3.50/watt. I’ve had it two years. Although energy is far less expensive in CO, it’s still awesome with 300+ days of sun! Mosaic is a company that offers cheap debt financing. Last time I checked the loan rate is 4.99% fixed and you get the 30% tax credit, which you can use to reammortize the loan within 18 months. No lien on the house because it’s a personal loan.

            I’ve got buddies in CO who have been in the business for a long time.

            Let’s talk about our day jobs. Who knows maybe we can work together.

          3. TK,
            Cool. What about me? (Standard photographer response to any dialogue not directly related to said photographer.)

          4. Sean, Tom
            You two would dig each other. At least I think so. And you both know me which puts you in the top 1% worldwide.

          5. Tom, thanks for the input. I’ll do some digging around. As Dan knows, the day job is a difficult subject for me to talk about these days. I did take a look at your website though. Cool stuff. Projects I worked on never handled the demand side of things, they were mostly monitoring/notification applications. We did do some optimization work on boiler systems.

            Dan, being in the top 1% is what I strive for. Thanks for the help. Btw, the 44s should go on your Taco…

  4. 1% for sure.

    I think the Bolt is limited to 36” mudders. And I think it is bigger and holds more cargo and has much higher range than the new Leaf. The new Leaf actually looks nice, like a real car not an alien.

    Sean, maybe we can add you to our on-demand cloud of Experts to do work for our clients. If you go back on our site and chat with the energybot, I’ll answer and give you my phone number. I don’t want want to leave it here ‘cause the NSA keeps close tabs on that subversive Milnor.

    1. TK,
      Leaf is only 150 miles per charge, but I do like the car itself. Bolt has higher range but Leaf fits a long board……

      As for NSA. Odds are they are collecting my data but odds are they are really, really bored with it.

      1. The Leaf is 4 inches longer, but the Bolt is a bit taller and has more volume inside. You need a shorter long board!

        1. TK,
          Just to keep in favor with the oil and gas companies I do have a 2017 TRD Off Road Tacoma in my driveway. It crushes any good I do in the world but man does it get me where I want to go. And back. It sits mostly. I ride my bike everywhere I can but then I fill it up and depart for my life in NM and beyond.

      2. Tom, thanks. Chatting with a real person who pretends to be a bot would be awesome. 😉 I’ll drop in shortly.

        Dan, since when have you been a logger? The vision of you driving through Newport with a log on a Leaf reminds me of a guy I knew in Laguna. He had a 60s era Mini Cooper and drove around with an 18′ ocean kayak on the roof.

        1. Sean,

          What do you mean since when have I been a logger? Since I almost drown on a medium sized day at San O. Washed ashore near the power plant and thought “Yep, this is for me.” I have the Taco for my boards, but Amy will latch her’s to the Leaf. My neighbor, same guy who built and airplane and an electric car in his garage, drives a Leaf and has for years. I like it. Not fancy but I like it. I’ve driven pretty much all of them outside of Tesla, but I see so many Tesla’s getting towed I don’t think I want to go there. And NM is filled with Nissan and Chevy dealers.

          1. Dan, make the Nissan and Chevy dealers in NM know how to handle EVs.

            Sean, I missed you on our site. I was on the phone and the chat browser tab didn’t flash!
            tkunhardt at Correlate Inc dot com

          2. I’m sure there’s a radiation joke in there somewhere but I can’t find it. I had a similar experience except it was DOH Pipe and I was swimming with a camera…

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