"I'm not an economist, and I am approaching the economy as a physics problem," Garrett says. "I end up with a global economic growth model different than they have."

Garrett treats civilization like a "heat engine" that "consumes energy and does 'work' in the form of economic production, which then spurs it to consume more energy," he says.

"If society consumed no energy, civilization would be worthless," he adds. "It is only by consuming energy that civilization is able to maintain the activities that give it economic value. This means that if we ever start to run out of energy, then the value of civilization is going to fall and even collapse absent discovery of new energy sources."

Garrett says his study's key finding "is that accumulated economic production over the course of history has been tied to the rate of energy consumption at a global level through a constant factor."

Här kan du jämföra elpriser och byta elavtal, kostnadsfritt och enkelt.

"A lot of people worry about having SUVs but they don't worry about having Alsatians and what we are saying is, well, maybe you should be because the environmental impact ... is comparable."

Computer programs can make your computer use more power. PowerTOP is a Linux tool that helps you find those programs that are misbehaving while your computer is idle. The application that misbehaved the most was the Linux kernel. However, as of version 2.6.21, the Linux kernel went tickless, and no longer has a fixed 1000Hz timer tick. The result (in theory) is huge power savings because the CPU stays in low power mode for longer periods during system idle.

Mr. Sanns, 51 years old, is part of a small subculture of gearheads, amateur physicists and science-fiction fans who are trying to build fusion reactors in their basements, backyards and home laboratories.

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