Holding On to the Past ‘Till the Future Gets Here

Have you ever done something and thought, “There’s gotta be a better way to do this,” or decided to remake something to work better?

I do this constantly; ask anyone who’s seen my computer desk. I have my high speed modem and separate router (with WiFi) mounted vertically on the side (for easy access without taking up desk space) along with a dedicated analog telephone that runs off the phone line (no batteries or plug ins.) The underside of the desk has a protected screen over the power center (my cat loves chewing wires when you aren’t paying her proper attention) with a UPS/surge suppressor and “power off” outlets that secure against phantom power feeds when the computer is off. The desk hutch lights are all low-power super-bright LED and also power down with the computer.

I’m also all for gradual change to improve things, like moving away from leaded gasoline, replacing paper bags with plastic, or using green technologies, but only when it makes sense to do so. Have you heard how loud wind farm windmills roar to make electricity (60-70 decibels?) Have you priced how many solar panels it would cost to run your home or business (285 square feet for 600 MW a day?) As technology improves to become more efficient, green technologies will also improve until it makes sense replace old technology. If you can get your 600 MW of power consumption down to 100, you’d only need 1/6 as many solar panels, or just 48 square feet.

If world leaders mandate that the world must stop using oil by 2015, maybe that will happen and maybe it won’t, but making it a crime to use oil thereafter even if the problem hasn’t been solved is just foolish. Need a better commercial space orbiter? A car that drives itself to a destination while avoiding obstacles? Fifty miles per gallon? DARPA and the X Prize Foundation has had the better answer for years: offer a prize to create the competition for solving a technological problem. This is why free market business competition works.

So, if you’re done inside a room, turn off the light as you leave. If you can replace an appliance with a more efficient one that can do more with less, buy it and properly dispose of the old one (or better yet, recycle it.) I cannot wait for my own electric car that goes a thousand miles on a single fuel cell that plants wildflowers as it roars down the highway at 120 mph steering with only the power of my mind, but please don’t ask me to park my car in a land fill and walk around in the dark eating tree bark just because the future hasn’t been invented yet.

And speaking of the future, where are my cheap, solid-state, everlasting LED replacement light bulbs so we can quit making these florescent bulbs that need a Level 5 HAZMAT team to properly dispose of?