What the F*WK? "Renewable Energy Randomness"

This Foreign Affairs article somehow captured my imagination this morning. Two completely random - and very likely ludicrous - thoughts on renewable came to me on my commute in this morning:
  1. Can someone please create energy producing workout equipment already?! I'm fairly positive this is technically possible, so can someone do it already? Can you think of a better place to be 'green' than a gym? (If it's not already been done, I'm claiming this as my invention now.)
  2. If solar energy dominates the energy landscape in 20 years, will solar energy be stealing all the Sun's energy? I'm less positive on this issue, but I imagine there to be a finite amount of energy produced by the Sun at any given time. If we start stealing a bunch to power cars and buildings and space exploration, do flora and fauna suffer? If so, that sure would suck to have saved our environment from global warming only to destroy it due to global cooling...


  1. 1) The gym may not produce that much energy (at least currently). Maybe the people on the exercise bikes can power the treadmills. Unless you're envisioning a huge hamster wheel, but bipedal humans running would require a MUCH bigger wheel than a quadripedal hamster.

    2) It's my understanding that the sun produces SO MUCH solar energy that it will never really take away from the flora and fauna. The main idea is that we would put solar panels on places that don't cover sunlight-dependent life (roofs, bare deserts). It's not like the plants are currently getting sunlight that they would lose out on by putting a solar panel on a roof.

  2. 1) You don't think a gym could produce enough energy to be energy independent? At least the cardio equipment should be, no?

  3. That's the thing, running on a treadmill uses energy and in it's current form, I can't see it creating energy. You would need the person fighting against some sort of resistance. I've run on a non-electric treadmill before and you basically have to hold the bar and push down and back with your feet. While this would certainly be able to create energy, it would not be running in a way people are used to.

    In addition to an exercise bike, a rowing machine could create energy. And maybe you could apply the same type of pulling resistance to a benchpress or other machines.

    Now that I think about it, an elliptical might be able to create energy. Using your body's weight to push down the front. It would start slower and decelerate slower, but once you got up to speed it should be more or less the same.

    But I guess you could design an entirely new gym that paid you based on how many watts (or kilowatts) you generated while working out. I could see it working since you are paying people to work out.