Powering the Planet

Powering the Planet

2012, Environment  -   24 Comments
Ratings: 7.47/10 from 94 users.

The number of humans on Earth has now passed seven billion. And world energy usage is estimated to inflate more than 25% during the next 15 years, and probably will nearly double by the year 2050. But how much energy we need to exploit, and how we extract it, relies upon the decisions we make now. And those energy decisions have effects on Earth's climate. We already see the possibilities of the 21st century renewable energy. But, today, most of the big and powerful nations still heavily depend on 19th century technologies.

Some creative strategies demonstrate that wind can supply entire communities with power. And control, conservation and effectiveness can cut projected world energy requirements 30% by 2030. But how to achieve that on a massive scale? That's not just a scientific issue, but relies upon political, economic, cultural, national, and security decisions made by real people living in the real world.

Geologist Richard Alley is one of the many climate authorities who accepts the fact that the ongoing human energy models on Earth are warming the planet. But he also believes that the answers are out there... in the wind, in the sun, and in the heads of the scientists, discoverers, designers, architects and engineers.

Planet Earth is flooded with inexhaustible energy. The oceans conserve heat and produce wave and tidal power. Plants harvest sunlight and accumulate its energy in various forms. The Sun heats the atmosphere and therefore generates wind which we can exploit. But the largest and most hopeful energy source is the Sun itself.

Sunlight bathing the Earth's crust offers about 120,000 terawatts. If the Sun's energy were disseminated evenly around the world, it would average around 240 watts per square meter. Frank Shuman was the first scientist who, around 1910, invented machinery that could focus sunlight on metal tubes, heat liquid, and run a steam turbine. The steam drove a 75 horsepower engine that pumped water from a river to irrigate the soil.

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G Etitright
4 years ago

At 31:36 it is shown that a private car exudes 2.25 kg of carbon per 10km as a hard fact!
How can this be possible when average consumption at even 10litres/100km (a litre of gas weighs 0.7kg) uses only 0.7 kg of gas?????? Seriuosly! WTF ?
Credibility is on the line here.

David Fisher
4 years ago

I agree with you Michelle, we should be more focused and quit wasteing so much time and effort and research $$$$$ dollars

4 years ago

mammoth disappeared about 13,000 years ago, that is, is the age of younger dryas. the abrupt dissoultion of launrentide ice sheet was said to result in the ice age by causing the failure of thermohaline circulation in the north atlantic ocean. i have no idea what caused the abrupt melting of laurentide ice sheet.
now, the temperature of the earth, alongside with the carbon dioxide concentration, has been increasing remarkably. who knows the advent of another ice age sooner or later? all we have to do is save the planet by drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

michelle solano
5 years ago

We should use more the sun power electricity instead of what we are using know, is going to help the planet and us too.

michelle solano
5 years ago

I think this documentary is very interesting and is going to help us to be more concise about the planet, and instead of using the power electricity we are using now we should use the sun power electricity.

6 years ago

Prove that there are over 7 bln people instead of under 6.3 bln. Just claiming it doesn't make it so. Projected Energy use Models = theories = bunk if govt or those that control govt, or their foundations, are involved in any way in funding where ever the supposed data came from. "and probably will nearly double by the year 2050" --probably more bunk.

I can relate to @mike above but when you "overthrow" who you going to have run things? How about keep the constitution, dump the political parties, and the people see to it wise decent incorruptible people are run by the people in numbers, who sign contracts to enact term limits, 3 for a rep, 4 for a senator, 5 for a prez. that is the max, no re-elections permitted.

As for energy, all one need do is look in the Patent Office. Whether old or new some of them are bound to be legit, which put out more energy than consumed. Impossible? The whole concept of a heat pump is just that, use a little electricity to gather a LOT of SOLAR energy from the air.

Nuclear scientists claim they understand what they are doing. That is based on the belief that many who go to university have, that their professors imparted to them all there is to know. Total bunk. The professors don't know what they don't know. It is clear they don't even understand the electron yet. Its all theory. Yeah so they have made some use of their theories. What happens when they get to a spot where their theory breaks down? Just like almost all their theories have. I'll take the oil screwing up the planet over the nukes screwing up the planet. However, it would be an easy thing to grow enough biomass to fuel the planet until some better tech came along; even if it is growing algae off shore, growing jojoba on crap land, growing pi melons in the desert. These things are carbon neutral, sucking up CO2 when growing, releasing when burning, repeat. Creates 6-8 times the energy used to produce the fuel, so say the Brazilians, including manufacturing the tractors to cultivate the soil. Jojoba and algae should be much higher, the oils having a higher energy content. This too is SOLAR energy, converted biologically to biomass, to fuel.

So until you vote out the congress that is bought and paid for by the oil and bank lobby, you are to blame. Voting for the next guy they run won't do it. Vote for the guys and gals YOU run will.

9 years ago

global warming is a myth. its made up to create the carbon tax = money for governments.

going off-grid for yourself = self sustaining. money saving. fking the oil companies over.

the world is run by money. we`re programmed to chase money. to use it. to spend it on things we dont need.

the only way thing will change is if you vote with your feet. the way we grow food needs to change, but the government put chemicals in them to dumb us down.

even if we had unlimited power - we`re being fked psychologically by the powers that be.

we need to grow our own food. filter our own water.

but, most of all - we need to overthrow the governments and oil companies.

9 years ago

carbon tax / green tax, road tax, vehicle tax, bedroom tax, food tax.... = more money for governments

9 years ago

Wind is an excellent idea, for sonoma county. All these city leaders do is debate and argue. Its all about $

9 years ago

I live here in Colorado and about 14% of all of our electric power comes from wind turbines which are also built here in Colorado. I think there's 5,000 employed in the industry here so it's creating a lot of jobs. There's another 400 megawatt wind farm going in just east of Colorado Springs now which will increase the amount of electric coming from wind power for the state.

So far I haven't seen any rate increases because of wind energy but I have here in this town because our local utility switched over to natural gas. There was a fire in the main city power plant which is coal powered so they had to shut it down. The rate increase is 7%.

I'm not going to say wind energy is perfect, it's far from it. We get a lot of wind out on the plains and it's not like the cows can't graze around the bases of the turbines. It seems to be working here anyway. It's obvious to me we're going to have multiple sources for energy in the future instead of our relying on a single one. Let's just say one of our sources of energy is cut off, we'll say oil, what are we going to do then? I remember the gas lines of the 70's because of the embargo.

9 years ago

Sunlight bathing the Earth's crust offers about 120,000 terawatts. If
the Sun's energy were disseminated evenly around the world, it would
average around 240 watts per square meter.

unfortunatly this is not the case...Yes technically it's correct, but practically it's a naive misunderstanding of how solar power works.

Solar RADIATION is what the panels pick up on, and radiation bathes the earth in rings which grow stronger the nearer they get to the equator.

This is why northern countries, like Canada, the Northern states, Scandinavia the UK and Russia will never be able to rely on Solar energy, because they are not in the bands where the radiation is strong enough for the panels to be any use.

There is also quite alarming suggestions surfacing surrounding the impact of large scale Solar panel farms on the immediate environment around them...

9 years ago

I,m afraid that democracy,freedom,hardwork,education,free enterprise and competition has out smarted a failed species.Like the man who is drinking a liter day and smoking three packs telling everyone that someone some day will find a cure.When in fact the only result for choosing obesity can be increasing deterioration and pulverization by an extremely vexed eco-system.Convenience today creates little will for tomorrow.

9 years ago

The old adage; if there is will, there is a way to power our way out of the environmental pollution.

9 years ago

when was this documentary made? So much for China's revolution

9 years ago

this doc is a pipe dream.So far,the sun (or anything else)) replacing fossil fuel remains only talk.They had better get moving.

9 years ago

Why no nuclear? How bout some LFTR.

9 years ago

I designed solar energy - passive and active - when Jimmy Carter was president of the US - I loved that business number one because I am a Sun Worshiper - and number two - It just makes common sense -

Every time we sold a system and installed it i remember how good that made me feel - (Amen Ra)

The Money Punk killed it - no profit in free renewable energy -

The next president after Carter removed the solar panels off the white house - I didn't know that until just recently - relatively speaking -