This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Below is a chart showing a typical week of bicycle commuting (click to enlarge):

In this week (sept 12-18th) I biked 77.2 miles.  It took me a total of 5:34.8 hrs

I wanted to compare how much energy would have been used if I had been driving my car everywhere instead of biking.

I used the following calculation to find how many gallons are used in each commute:

(33 mpg) (gallons used) = distance

For example on the chart, I would have used 0.53 gallons of gas on a day I commute 17.6 miles.  There are 36.6 kWh in each gallon of gas, so this translates to 19.398 kWh saved on that particular day. 

In total, I have 'saved' 2.325 gallons of gas and 85.095 kWh this week bicycling instead of driving. 

HOWEVER, I AM using some energy to get around with my bike.  It is about 500 calories worth of energy to bike 12 miles (typical distance biking). I converted my kWh per day amounts to calories to see how many calories you would need to run a car going the same distance:

1 kWh = 3,600,000 J
There are 4.18 J per calorie so,
1 kWh= 861,000 calories

In a day I commute 12 miles I use 13.176 kWh:

13.176 kWh x 861,000 calories/kWh = 11,344,536 calories that my car uses in a typical day of commuting, versus 500 on my bike.  So I am using 0.000044% of the energy my car uses by biking my commute (and I have pretty good gas mileage -33 mpg).  Whoa.

To make an even more ridiculous comparison, I calculated how many 'mpg' my bike gets from the energy I have to consume in calories to move myself:

1 gallon of gas = 132 MJ
4.18 J in one calorie (4.18 J x 500 calories = 2090 J)
2090 J/132,000,000 J = 0.00001583 gallons in 12 miles of biking

(mpg) (0.0000158 gallons used) = 12 miles

My bike gets 759,493.67 MPG.  Yeah, thats right, try to manufacture THAT Toyota.

midtown greenway

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