I've been reading the latest article at Low-tech Magazine. I read that kind of stuff because skin of frame technology is relatively low-tech and I'm always curious what other sorts of low tech activities people are attracted to.
So, having explained that, let me get on to my main point which is other people's conception of what the future will be like and how to plan for it.
Low-tech mag imagines a post-carbon future, one where cheap carbon fuels will not be available. Whether you believe that a low carbon future is imminent or not is more or less irrelevant. The point of low tech mag is to imagine how we would deal with it. We can join in on that exercise whether we believe in a low carbon future or a future of ever increasing bounty.
So getting back to the magazine, their latest article focuses on bicycle powered gadgetry, like this bicycle-powered grinder. Not a bad idea, really, assuming that in the imaginary carbon-less future you will have access to all the component parts you will need to realize this low-tech vision.
Now on to the scary part of this particular low-tech vision, using bicycle power to generate electricity. This vision isn't scary in and of itself. Using one bicycle to generate electricity isn't all that bad. I used to have a bike with a headlight that ran off a generator. It made pedaling harder, but you didn't have to replace any batteries.
"electricity could be generated in large pedal powered electricity plants, and then distributed to houses, shops, public spaces and factories. This is more efficient than doing it in each house separately because you can do away with the batteries and still offer electricity 24 hours a day. Power plants would simply add more pedallers when demand is high (such as during peaks hours) and send them home when demand is low (at night, for instance)."
And who the hell would want to work at this job? Certainly not the guy who thought of it. Imagine what your butt would look like after 8 or twelve hours of sitting on one of those milk crates. Thank you, no. I would rather have a post-carbon future without electricity if this is what it takes.