Last week, I twice watched inventor Saul Griffith's lecture on "Climate Change Recalculated". For about an hour and a half, Griffith speaks in concise, non-political terms on the amount of energy that is required for us to continue to live at the 'quality of life' that we enjoy today, and how we cannot sustain this existence through the burning of fossil fuels. If we continue on our current course, we'll head dangerously past acceptable limits of carbon in the atmosphere in about 40 years. His talk includes a monologue on the staggering amount of non-carbon emitting energy sources we must manufacture over the next 25 years in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Griffith's seminar is a product of his desire to calculate his own personal energy consumption in extreme detail, which he did for the full year of 2007. We see a pie chart that shows how much energy is used to fulfill every aspect of his 2007 life, including the embodied energy in his "stuff", his dietary habits, and his auto and jet travel. Wishing to trim down from an 18,000 to a 2,200 watt (the world average) lifestyle, we see the impact of the 200 or so watts that are used to produce the plastic bottle that holds his 20 ounces of flavored water.
To further his mission, Griffith and a group of collaborators created WattzOn. According to the site, WattzOn is a "free online tool to quantify, track, compare and understand the total amount of energy needed to support all of the facets of your lifestyle with the goal of helping you find ways to reduce your personal power consumption."
After entering some simple data, WattzOn provides a calculation of your personal energy usage, which can then be compared to the "historical American", the average WattzOn user, and the World. The site also has a blog and a discussion board where users can learn more about ways they can reduce their energy consumption.
My first quick pass through the Wattzon tool has me at 6,585 watts, just 224 above the average WattzOn member, and well below the 10,800 watts used by the 2005 "historical American". I'm looking forward to going through the more detailed sections of the tool that will allow me to get a more accurate figure. Oh, and the government- they account for 3,779 watts of my total- more than half!