The Most Sustainable Power Source on Earth

A human powered student room. Image: Golnar Abbasi.

  • A human can generate at least as much power as a 1m2 solar panel on a sunny day.
  • Unlike solar and wind energy, human power is always available, no matter the season or time of day. There’s little need for energy storage.
  • Unlike fossil fuels, human power can be a clean power source.
  • Unlike solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries, humans don’t need to be manufactured in a factory.
  • Unlike all other power sources, human power increases as the human population grows.
  • Human power is an all-round power source. Humans not only supply muscle power that can be converted into mechanical energy or electricity, they also produce thermal energy, especially during exercise. Finally, human waste can be converted to biogas and fertiliser.

Human power is the most sustainable power source on Earth.

Quoted from Human Power Plant, a work-in-progress by Low-tech Magazine and Melle Smets. More about the project later.

The Elderly in Modern Society

Elderly people in the United States today are not treated with the respect and reverence to which they were accustomed earlier in history. The gerontologist David Hackett Fischer notes that literature from seventeenth and eighteenth century colonial America stressed deference and respect for the elderly. He maintains that the elderly were held in veneration, a word which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means a “feeling of deep respect and reverence,” and is derived from the Latin root veneror, meaning “to regard with religious awe and reverence.”

elderly in modern societyThe elderly today are hardly regarded with religious awe or reverence. They have become virtual outcasts of society, many living on the fringe, often in retirement communities or in nursing homes.

William Withers states that “modern cultures have coped with the death of the aged, minimizing its disruptiveness, by disengaging the elderly from the vital functions of society”. In modern society, emphasis and value are placed on youth, with advertising geared toward and glamorizing the young. To the extent that advertising acknowledges the elderly individual at all, it attempts to make him or her appear younger (Atchley).

The elderly are victims of mistaken beliefs and irrational attitudes promulgated by society, largely through the various mass media. Atchley defines ageism, or age prejudice, as “a dislike of aging and older people based on the belief that aging makes people unattractive, unintelligent, asexual, unemployable, and senile” and claims that research indicates that most Americans subscribe to at least a mild form of ageism.

Quoted from: The elderly in modern society, Alan Pope. Engraving: State Library of Victoria. Related: Temporocentrism.

European Urbanization 1500 – 1800

Population european cities 1500 1800
Quoted from: “European Urbanization 1500-1800“, Jan de Vries, 1984.