Did you know a human being at rest only uses 90 watts? Or that a hunter-gatherer needs about 250 watts to hunt and find food? What about the average American? According to Geoffrey West, a distinguished theoretical physicist, the answer is enormous:
“Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts.”
11,000 watts! Biologically, as an animal grows in size it’s supposed to slow down, not go faster. A mouse is fast because it’s small, an elephant is slow because it’s big – all that mass needs energy. To put it in perspective, our lifestyle requires more watts than that of a blue whale. And if we keep going on that pace, resources will run out and we have to change and innovate. West goes on:
We clear-cut forests, and so we turn to oil; once we exhaust our fossil-fuel reserves, we’ll start driving electric cars, at least until we run out of lithium.