I will update this from time to time but I wanted to get some thoughts down on (virtual) paper.
I have come through study to a fact that has yet to be proven wrong to my satisfaction: denser is “greener.”
Agriculture has one hell of a footprint; it uses nearly 19 million square miles (49 million square kilometers) of land, nearly 40 per cent of the earth’s land. Innovations that make it more efficient (producing more on less land with less pollution and less water usage) can free up land for nature.
Conversely, anything that makes agriculture less efficient, takes land away from nature. This template causes me to consider the affects of scaling up a technology (such as: so-called organic methods or turning vegetation–that is not waste–into fuel) to handle our world’s population.
Scalability has also shaped my view of energy sources. Renewable energy may be just the thing for small-scale use: a photovoltaic panel to charge a battery for a lighted road sign or perhaps a series of PV panels bringing power to a house off the grid. Once the use of PV or wind turbines is scaled up to bring power to an urban center their intermittent nature, low power-densities (which in turn squanders large tracts of land, sometimes farm but also forests), and the need for new transmission lines; and their use quickly turns a nice little solution to small power needs to large scale headaches.