Sunday, November 04, 2007

Open BTUs

Originally uploaded by william_meloney
I have had the luxury and the privilege of traveling outside the US. I have been allowed to visit remote villages both in Mexico and in China. I was very surprised by the similarity of the two.

A rice paddy is drained and allowed to dry to just the right consistency. It is then scored into brick shapes, roughly 8"x 14" x 4". The bricks are removed from the paddy and allowed to dry further. I am not sure if they are "fired" but judging by the deterioration of old structures I do not believe they are. Then the next home is built. But "home" is to restrictive a label - home/barn/stall/pen/silo/hay loft/warehouse/et al.

Only subtle architectural detail differentiates the mud homes in China from the mud homes in Mexico.

Pictured here is the People's Home of rural China. This is a standard 5 room house. The central room fronted by the porch in the middle and is flanked by two rooms on either side. Above is a open loft.

In one of these homes that I visited the cooking area was inside. I did not find any inside plumbing. More often than not one of the five rooms contained livestock.

The Tobacco barn, picture at the top, is of particular note. Applied to the walls surrounding the hearth are "fuel" patties. A mixture of coal dust and organic material, primarily cattle dung is formed into patties and then slapped against the wall to dry. Later they will be peeled off and use in the hearth to cure the tobacco hung in the tobacco barn.

Below is an excerpt from the EIA's statistics of World Energy Consumption. What is of significance is the disparity of energy use verses population. China with an estimated population of 1.3 Billion people use 20% less energy than the United States with an estimated population of approximately 301 Million people.

This large table shows world energy consumption by region, from 2004-2030, for OECD countries and Non-OECD countries. For more information, contact: National Energy Information Center at 202.586.8800.

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