Three excellent new books
The first is Oil Addiction – The World in Peril (ISBN 1-58112-494-5) by Pierre Chomat, an ex-oilman. He introduces the term Ergamine (or energy slave) to refer to the energy released by fossil fuels. One gram of oil gives as much energy as a manual labourer can deliver in a day’s work. He quotes some nice examples : a plane load of tourists, flying from California to see the Great Pyramid of Egypt, consume as much energy as was used in building it. Running a domestic clothes-washer consumes as much energy as it would take a crane to lift the house 23 feet into the air. He points out how Modern Man is barely conscious of the massive amount of energy he consumes in the daily life during this most exceptional epoch in history. He links this dependence with recent geopolitical events and the posturing of governments incapable of facing the reality of what unfolds.
I watched "The End of Suburbia" with some friends last week -- discussing it afterwords I brought up this example -- and got teased a little bit. Justifiably so, as I mangled it in re-telling. The example seems to ignore the energy inputs for the manual labourer and focuses on what they can deliver.
So taking in the whole equation -- tracking how much energy is exerted to grow the food that the labourers eat and so on, would increase the overall energy requirements to build the Great Pyramid.
I also enjoyed Jon's claim that the energy it takes to make a Big Gulp Slurpee (Cherry flavor) is more than the energy it took to build the great wall of China (correct me if I got the details of his arguement mixed up :-).