Those of you who read one of my previous blog posts (“About Sailing and Energy Management”) will remember my adoration for ocean sailing. With all these years and miles of sailing, my respect and love for the ocean has grown very strong. That’s why I could not let the month pass by without remembering the annual “World Oceans Day,” celebrated on June 8.
World Oceans Day (WOD) is an opportunity every year to honor the ocean, celebrate the products the ocean provides and appreciate its own intrinsic value. WOD was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008, and since then it has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success each year in participation and building awareness of how our lives depend on the ocean. It’s actually amazing to consider, but the ocean helps generate most of the oxygen we breathe, feeds us, regulates our climate, cleans the water we drink, offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines and last but not least, forms an inexhaustible source of renewable energy! continue
June 14, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives
by Roger Durham
This year, energy-risk managers, meteorologists, geologists and evangelists have all had their hands full trying to interpret the signs. It’s been a devastatingly busy year. There were record snowfalls and rain totals in many parts of the United States during the winter and early spring. There was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March. Tornadoes ripped through Alabama and Missouri in April and May. Communities along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers were overwhelmed with floods, with more flooding to follow out west as rivers brace for the runoff from what was a record snow pack in many of the ranges from Montana to the Sierra Nevada. continue
This is the time of year when my family takes our annual strawberry pickin’ jaunt up to Huber’s Orchard & Winery in Starlight, Ind. Up at the crack o’ dawn, riding the tractor-pulled wagon out to the lush (and often dewy) fields to “u-pick” a gallon or so of those succulent berries – I’ve gleefully made this trip every year since I was 4 years old. A wonderful bonus to the bounty that will become preserves, pies and shortcake topping is the scenic 50-mile round-trip drive to the orchard.
On a stretch of Scottsville Road sits a house that has always fascinated me. Why, you ask? It’s underground. All that passersby can see of it is the roof, which is covered in – drum roll please – solar panels. continue
In California, interest in high-speed rail systems is gathering speed. The push toward high-speed rail systems that largely replicate those in Europe has created quite a debate in the political world, as well as the blogosphere (both against high speed rail and for it). continue
June 1, 2011 • Perspectives
by Jackie Cobb
With Memorial Day 2011 only a few days behind us, I’m positive that there were about 307 million other Americans who took that inaugural trip to the neighborhood swimming pool and enjoyed a glorious three-day weekend. I’m also positive that I was the only one in America who, when reflecting upon US soldiers who have died in combat, started thinking about the intersection between US military history and the history of energy. (Working day in and day out with energy consultants rubs off on you.) So here it goes – a little something for you to consider in your post-Memorial Day musings. continue
With summer upon us, Americans are once again engaged in a grand old tradition: griping about high gas prices. Our pain at the pump has been acute for the last few months, and it doesn’t seem likely to get better any time soon. Over the holiday weekend, as gas prices spiked, I ran a little demand response program of my own – spending the long weekend in the comfort of my home instead of burning gas on a road trip. In times like these, our political leaders are quick to sell the public on convenient villains, from evil OPEC to those dastardly oil companies. Still, we all know that those who are the first to assign blame usually deserve a bit of it themselves. continue
Eight months after the San Bruno, Calif., natural gas pipeline explosion killed eight people, injured dozens and left 55 homes uninhabitable, I still run across articles nearly every day regarding the ongoing investigation of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and what could have been done to avoid this tragedy. While most of these articles place an understandable and significant amount of blame on the utility, there have been a few that turn some of that blame to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). continue
Get off my lawn!
Another birthday and a drawer full of v-neck undershirts signal I’m ready to embrace my inner “old man.” These days I spend a lot of time complaining and talking about the way things were “back in my day,” back before gasoline was $4.07 a gallon. One day last week unleaded gas shot up 37 cents a gallon. Summit Energy commodity analyst, Matt Smith, attributed the meteoric rise to “flooding on the Mississippi, which is impacting both production and transportation of the fuel.” Matt’s right, of course, but the grumpy old man in me would rather blame it on “kids these days” or Communism. continue
May 12, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives
by Roger Durham
The Kentucky Derby
My wife is one (of many) who seems to subscribe to the theory of “The Holiday Gas Price Conspiracy.” Despite evidence to the contrary, there are people who insist that prices always go up as holidays approach. The most recent evidence to refute the theory came last weekend in Louisville – home of the Kentucky Derby. continue
It looks like it is left to me to break the silence on The Watercooler about the Japanese Fukushima nuclear incident. First, it might be months or years before we have a full picture of the damage at the plant and its impact on the environment and population. Our prayers go out to those impacted by the radiation. This incident is a sobering reminder that processes behind nuclear power production are complicated and allow a slim margin for error.
With that said, continue