Back before I had children, I used to go to hippy music festivals like Shambala from time-to-time.
It seemed to me that one of the regular fixtures at these events was pedal-powered contraptions of every sort imaginable. From pedal-powered sound systems to bikeblenders, the concept will be pretty familiar to most TreeHuggers. I do remember spending one festive afternoon trying to drunkenly calculate how much gas was being used to transport bike-powered cell phone chargers from festival-to-festival.
My beer-fueled cynicism was, however, missing the mark. Much like truck farms, the value of these installations was not in the energy they would save festival goers, but the shift in mindset they create in how we think about energy. As the BBC showed with their attempt to power an entire house by bike, there is absolutely no way that bike-power can come close to matching our current energy needs.
And that's precisely the point. Our current energy needs are simply way too bloated due to the cheap fossil fuels we've been enjoying for the past century.
In communities where energy has not been so abundant, however, bike power can make a real difference in transforming lives and replacing valuable fossile fuels and/or manual labor. Nobody knows this better than Matthew Corson-Finnerty, a man who's been building bike-powered water pumps, electric generators, grain mills, straw choppers and more at the Aprovecho Center in Oregon. Join Janaia Donaldson of Peak Moment TV as she pays Corson-Finnerty a visit to learn more.