The Power You Hold In One Hand

August 20th, 2013

In the midst of the growing debate on energy usage and where it should be come from, one argument that often isn’t considered is what that energy is used to actually power.

Environmental activists pride themselves on arguing the talking points of a more “eco-friendly” green energy solution. Wind and solar, they claim, would solve the issues that we face as a society and would harvest enough energy to power our entire economy.

However, what they fail to note are what the actual consequences of such a policy would be, if enacted.

An article was recently published in The Week,[1] reporting on a study, which indicated that a standard iPhone uses more power than a mid-size refrigerator. This might seem surprising, when one considers the stark physical difference between the two objects, but it is more the practical usage of the former that is truly shocking.

We use our smartphones at nearly every hour of the day. Many would argue that they could not go without its easy accessibility to e-mail, social media, work-related functions, camera, and of course, ability to make phone calls.

It is far more difficult to dismiss the energy usage of a phone, given its necessity to the day-to-day habits of many Americans.

We often don’t consider how many different places we consume energy and in what capacity. The smartphone serves as only one, palm-sized example.

Reading this post on your computer or tablet requires energy. Microwaving your dinner requires energy. The air conditioning or fan that is keeping your room cool in these last few muggy summer days requires energy.

Nearly everything we do requires energy to some degree. It is in the understanding of this complex network of reliance that we see the fault (and perhaps hypocrisy) with the environmental activists’ argument.

At current levels, renewable energy sources provides for 9.3% of our nation’s energy infrastructure,[2] though one could argue most environmentalists only approve of around 2% of that figure. In a report done by Analytics Press, it stated that in 2010, over 2% of U.S. energy goes towards powering our complex and expansive data networks.[3]

Consider that.

Hypothetically, all wind, solar, and geothermal energy consumed on a yearly basis would be dedicated to simply powering our phones and wireless networks. After that – according to environmentalists who oppose other renewables, like biomass and hydroelectric power on grounds of environmental protection – there would be simply nothing left to light our homes or fuel our cars. Our economy would virtually shut down.

While some environmentalists would agree that it would be impossible to completely rely on green energy sources, this picture should demonstrate our need to continue developing abundant energy sources, such as oil, coal, and natural gas.

Making these sources cleaner, safer, and more efficient should be complimentary to the furthered growth of our economy.

Through onerous regulations and heavy subsidization, environmentalists have succeeded in lobbying our government to begin changing the nature of our energy infrastructure.

It is time to see through the smoke and mirrors of environmental rhetoric. The energy issues our country faces do not simply exist in the costs of operating large plants or assembly lines. They exist at the most fundamental levels of our own daily routine.

Without reliable access to energy, how could we heat our homes, cook our meals, or perhaps seemingly worse, use our phones?