Haiti and the Dominican Republic

The last post showing the world at night really sparked an interest for me on economic development and sustainability.  I remember seeing a photo in National Geographic several years ago showing the borderlands between Haiti and the DR and stark contrast between the two countries. Haiti on left Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and relies on the land for basic survival.  Rampant over-logging to make charcoal combined with other unsustainable agricultural and irrigation practices created a humanitarian crisis in the country. 

Last year the United Nations Development Program launched a project to teach local authorities and farmers about sustainable practices in order to restore the waterways and forests along the border region that is home to 150,000 people. 

Obviously it will take many years to bring the land back to its natural state, but the lessons learned can be repeated in other areas to prevent the suffering caused by unsustainable resource exploitation.

World Wide Electricty Use

Have you ever seen a picture of the world at night? Take a look at the picture below and then try to comprehend the numbers – USA has a population of 300 million, North America and South America combined have about 800 million inhabitants.  Now look across the Atlantic and take a look at Africa – you don’t see many lights for the more than 1 billion people living on the continent.  Then take a look at Asia, which sports a population of 4 billion.  Now if all these areas had the same electricity usage of the USA, think about much energy we would need.  Think about the air quality in the cities, the reduced cropland from the pollution, the destruction caused by mining and drilling, the traffic on the highways, etc.  That is why we need cleaner sources of energy.  Energy production runs hand in hand with economic development and will bring billions of people out of poverty.  Further innovations in renewable technologies combined with a scale-up in production can drop the cost of clean energy and light up this map without the negative externalities associated with fossil fuel.  Now that is something to think about! 

I would just like to say a quick thank you to Professor John Zindar for teaching a great class on carbon constrained economies and to Chip, Dipa, Iana, Pedro, Terence, and Thiago for making each class fun and interesting.  I learned a lot from each of you and wish you the best in all that you do. The Earth at Night

Wind Projects in the US (2012)

Longtime Mr. Greenbacks friend, reader, and rocket scientist Ryan made some interesting observations regarding US Energy By Source.  Here is some follow-up information on the Wind Industry.  Does anyone out there know what life is like near a large wind farm?  What is the long-term picture for jobs – not just installation, but maintenance as well?  How is the industry looking after the expiration of the 1603 TGP – is it still profitable? 

U.S. Wind Industry Fast Facts

Total U.S. Utility-Scale Wind Power Capacity, Through 1st Quarter of 2012:

48,611 MW

U.S. Wind Power Capacity, Installed in 2011:

6,816 MW

U.S. Wind Power Capacity, Installed in 1st Quarter of 2012:

1,695 MW

U.S. Wind Power Capacity Under Construction as of 1st Quarter of 2012:

8,916 MW

U.S. Wind Power Capacity, Installed in Previous Years (including small-wind):


5,216 MW
10,010 MW
8,366 MW
5,258 MW

Number of States with Utility-Scale Wind Installations, 2011:


Number of States with over 1,000 MW of Wind Installations, 2011:


U.S. Wind Resource Potential, Onshore (Source: NREL):

10,400,000 MW

U.S. Wind Resource Potential, Offshore  (Source: NREL):

4,150,000 MW

Top 5 States with Wind Power Capacity Installed, through Q1 2012:


1. Texas
2. Iowa
3. California
4. Illinois
5. Minnesota

10,648 MW
4,419 MW
4,287 MW
2,852 MW
2,718 MW