Thursday, 24 January 2008

Solving the Energy Crisis

Our craving for oil gets us nothing but trouble. It pollutes our landscape, complicates our international relations and makes millionaires (and presidents) of the undeserving. But what can we do?

We need to look for alternate sources of renewable energy. Big windmills of the sort you see in Denmark are fine. Hydro-electric power has its place. But I think we need to think small, capturing the dribs and drabs of amps and volts that are wasted every single day. Some of my ideas:

Health club treadmills and rowing machines could be hooked up to a giant grid. As you sweat those pounds away you could be reducing our reliance on foreign oil. Playground equipment--merry-go-rounds, sliding boards, swings--could be rigged to create energy, toddler energy, the cleanest known to man.

Can we put tiny dynamoes in the hinges of toilet seats? This would have the added benefit of encouraging men to put the toilet seat down. Better yet, put dynamoes in the toilet paper spindle so that every time you give it a yank it charges a battery.

Scientists in Portugal are harnessing the gentle swell of waves to generate power. Couldn't they also harness the shrugging motion of teenagers? "What would you like to do this weekend?" "I dunno." [Shrug.] That little bit of muscular energy may, on the individual level, be minuscule. But multiplied by the millions of disaffected teens the world over, it could be enough to light a large city. (France could hook the device up to waiters.)

What about installing solar panels inside refrigerators so that every time you open the door to grab a piece of pie the little light shines on the panels, producing a few microvolts?

Think of all the windpower that's wasted when birthday cake candles are blown out. Tiny candles shaped like wind turbines might be the answer. Asthmatics wouldn't need to feel bad if they couldn't extinguish them on one blow. Every additional puff would mean sticking it to OPEC.

The powerful hip-thrusts, leg-kicks and pom-pon shakes of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are as energy-laden as the waters of the mighty Niagara. We mustn't let them go to waste.

Look, if the Professor on "Gilligan's Island" can create generators out of coconuts and a few palm fronds, we certainly ought to be able to come up with something. I welcome your ideas.


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Don't forget the teenagers' eyerolls - dealing with OPEC would be but a dim memory if we were to harness all the power in those.

Mrs. Smith said...

Ummm, "toddler energy, the cleanest known to man"? Really? As a mother of seven, I beg to differ. I think suburbancorrespondent is on to something though. What about preteen and early teen girls? The amount of talking, screaming and jumping that goes on in that group should serve some purpose.

mark from alexandria said...

What about the power of the anti-Clinton animus of some of the news media in the US. A single utterance by either the junior Senator from New York or the former President seems to have the strength to power several cable news networks, the editorial pages of major newspapers, and numerous websites around the country. If this power could be converted into heating or a/c, we might not need a new generation of nuclear plants

Candadai Tirumalai said...

John Kelly has ingenious and imaginative suggestions; fun to read.
Still, the third book of "Gulliver's Travels," in which Jonathan Swift, the master-satirist, treats very comically of the hopelessly unrealistic "projectors" of Laputa, is worth a look.

Heather said...

Actually, there is a gym in California that did find a way to harvest energy from the workouts of their patrons. (I heard it on NPR so it must be true.)

Your Brother Said said...

Our craving for oil has made presidents? Really? I must have missed that one.

I think we need to harness the energy of Mrs. Smith - with 7 kids she must have energy to spare!

Mary said...

Yes, but how many of the seven are "preteen and early teen girls"?

John Kelly said...

Teenagers are a conundrum: All that energy and yet they still sleep till 1 p.m. on weekends. I guess you're right Mrs. Smith. Toddler energy is clean only when compared to fossil fuels. Can we burn polluted diapers? Bro, there's a Texas oilman in the White House now, and while I'm not among those who believe he had a cynical plan to invade Iraq to get oil, our addiction to the black stuff does complicate anything the U.S. does in that part of the world. Of course, I'd hate to be beholden to teenagers, too.