Human Addiction to Energy: A Climate Perspective

Michael Wysession of Earth & Planetary Sciences

As a professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences here at Washington University, Michael Wysession had much to say on the current contentious topic of global climate change and how it has shaped the rise and fall of human civilizations throughout history. Furthermore through his role in the development of earth and planetary science curricula for middle and high schools, Wysession shed light on the educational discrepancies throughout the country regarding such important topics. Beyond speaking about rising sea levels and temperatures, Wysession focused heavily on the immense amount of energy that humans use daily. Currently, the world uses energy at a rate of 18 terawatts per second. In order to create that same rate of energy, every person in the world would have to bench-press 570 pounds every second!

In the conclusion of his presentation, Michael Wysession listed various transportation methods and food sources along with the average amount of energy that each uses. While it comes as no surprise that biking is the most energy-efficient mode of transport, one might not have guessed that jet-skiing is by far the least. Additionally, it may come as a shock that some vegetables (i.e. some types of tomatoes) are less energy efficient because they take much more energy to grow than the energy they provide to consumers. All of these small facts about our daily energy habits are important to consider if we hope to contribute to a more energy-conscious and science-conscious world.