Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WattzOn: Climate Change, Recalculated

On January 16, 2009, Saul Griffith of gave a talk at the Long Now Foundation . It was a long discussion that placed our personal lifestyles in the context of climate change and global energy production. A lot of people have requested the slides, here are the latest.

Saul examines his personal impact on climate change based on his energy use. He tells us how he changed his to low energy lifestyle from 17 kW in 2007 to less than 2300 Watts in 2010.

What's on?

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.

It is becoming clear that our lifestyles have become unsustainable and that fossil fuel scarcity and global climate change are threatening to cause great economic and environmental damage to the world. Any solution to this problem will need to include a collective effort by all of us to reduce the amount of energy we are using in our lives.

With WattzOn's profile builder, you can easily get started in answering these questions. By examining a few key areas of energy use, the profile builder lets you know the baseline power (in watts) that your lifestyle currently requires. If you choose to sign up, you can then save this information, see how your impact compares to others', run visualizations showing the magnitude of your energy needs, and to join our community discussions. Through Wikipedia-like data editing, WattzOn is looking to people to enter data from their own experiences to help us all understand how we use energy in our lives.

Why watts?

A watt is a unit of power that indicates the rate at which you are using energy. For WattzOn, we normalize all of your profile answers (say, flights per year or miles driven per week) down to the second, so that you can see the average power that you are using in every moment of your life.

We chose watts because we want to change the conversation on personal accountability in climate change away from the common "carbon footprint" and towards collective energy reduction. Measuring in power rather than carbon emissions recognizes that it will not be possible to support our current lifestyles with any energy technology that we could implement in the near future - our needs are not sustainable. While there certainly needs to be a reduction of fossil fuel reliance by increasing alternative energy infrastructure, energy reduction will need to be part of any solution to this global challenge.

Learn more about the philosophy behind WattzOn (or check out this shorter version from the O'Reilly 2008 Web 2.0 Summit), and in this video presentation.

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