Sunday, February 17, 2008


Well, I started out writing about a court case -- Environmental groups and local officials up in Alaska are suing to block the development up there -- and it looks like Shell has to wait for the court case to begin exploration on its lease of some 29 million acres of land... I may get back to this tomorrow -- in the meantime I've been playing a game...


I clicked on a paid advertising link on the New York Times article page and came across a very elaborate web site of the Chevron Corporation.

Energyville is a game where you (I) make energy decisions for the future of an imaginary city -- I didn't realize it was imaginary at first though; you put your own town's name in and it calls your city that name. I was really impressed until I noticed the plan and stats are the same for Cambridge and Dallas and Afdser. Energy levels, the site asserts for each city (2007-2015) are based on projected production patterns and lifestyles of prosperous countries in North America, Europe and Asia. There, factories consume/will consume 41.59 percent of the energy consumed; vehicles 19.83%; trucking and freight 9.05% airplanes 2.7%; single family homes 9.09%; apartment buildings 6.53% and commercial buildings 8.48%.

Anyway -- you go through the city and you substitute different energy sources for the current usages -- wind, solar, nuclear, coal hydro and bio fuels -- there are buttons for a few emerging energy sources -- but those options are unavailable because they haven't been discovered yet. The game supposedly tracks cost, environmental ramifications and security risks.

Not surprisingly, this game is an advertisement. After a few substitutions it tells you you need petroleum, and it makes sure to mention the problems with each alternative energy source along the way. I had never thought, for instance, of the issue of sea storms with off shore wind farms -- seem like black outs could conceivably go on for a little longer than usual... If you only load your city up with petroleum, on the other hand, it tells you that you need to work on diversification. Man cannot live on oil alone.

But what alarmed me most about inside of the game was the down play of the environmental effects of coal and nuclear power. The lead story in the Times today is about languishing nuclear waste sites -- waste hasn't been buried -- "The federal government is at least 20 years behind schedule on its obligation to bury nuclear waste." The addressing of our current state solely as a production and energy issue, and not as an environmental one seems to me the most damaging issue before us presently.

The other disheartening thing on this site was a link to the Kyoto Protocol. I spent some time reading some of the text of that agreement. I like the fact that I now have a PDF of the entire thing on my computer...

Elsewhere on the site, Chevron had a set of e-cards that was a print advertising campaign in the New Yorker:

large version of piece

large version of piece

large version of piece

Well, while I would certainly support us all going out and getting tandem bikes, driving a little slower, and downsizing out need for more more more, it seems to me that by offering this focus to consumers Chevron is saying one thing -- the need for larger changes are out of our control -- focus on what YOU can change and trust us to take care of the rest...

Since beginning this project I have made a lot of changes to my life - I've been quite happy about them, and keeping up with them to varying degrees. But I certainly don't think they are going to save the polar bears.

(As an aside I think someone needs to take a look at the health effects of florescent lights.)

Well -- I feel a little badly, but I'm not going to link the Chevron site here. If you really want to play it should be easy enough to find...

They also have a cool little counter on the front of the front of the page ala MacDonalds:
4.57 million gallons of oil were consumed during the writing of this post.

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