Check out this week’s E.S. Profile Podcast with Senior Environmental Science major Taylor Wilmot as she discusses her independent research on Brownfield redevelopment in the Carlisle community.
This week’s E.S. Student Profile is an interview with Courtney Blinkhorn. Courtney is a senior E.S. major who works for ALLARM. Courtney sat down with us and chatted about her time here at Dickinson, what she been up to with ALLARM and what she hopes to take with her after graduation.
It’s that time again… time for an international climate change conference. This year marks the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP) and the event is being held in Cancun, Mexico. Last year, as many of you may recall, a group of Dickinson students attended COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark as part of the course, “Kyoto to Copenhagen: Negotiating the Future of the Planet.” The students performed research on the idea of “common but differentiated” responsibility, attending COP meeting and interviewing scientists, delegates and activists from around the world. These students kept a wonderful blog that outlines their entire semester: reflections from initial classes at Dickinson, research papers on specific international issues, country profiles and of course, the action in Copenhagen. They’ve also put together a database of interviews.
The reactions to results of COP 15, namely the Copenhagen Accord are varied. Some said it was a failure, others claimed it was an important step in the right direction. But that’s all in the past now. What will happen at COP16? Will an emissions reduction protocol be agreed on?
Last night, 5 fellow LUCE semester students and I gave a presentation on mountain top removal in West Virginia. We shared our experiences of coal country and relayed the information that we learned first hand from WV residents and activists like Judy Bonds, Larry Gibson and Vernon Haltom. We represented 3 different years of the program, stretching from 2005, to 2007 and ending with 2009. Each of us experienced something different when we visited that landscape as it changed dramatically between us. What we took away is that mountain top removal is crazy, unsafe, destroys people’s lives, breaks laws, is unhealthy to people and the planet yet is still allowed to happen.
How much are we willing to give up for coal under mountains? 300 ft. of vertical mountain rise? pristine forests, diverse ecosystems, crystal waters? Human health, human livelihood, basic human safety? Children’s educations, children’s chance to be born healthy? The state of WV? TN? KY? The Appalachian Mountains? Not to mention everything below & downstream of them…
I certainly hope not. In the news today I read that the East Kentucky Power Cooperative, in the heart of KY coal country, has decided to forgo two new power plants. Instead they plan to focus on energy conservation, efficiency and renewable wind power options, an alternative that will create jobs, save money and is a heck of a lot less destructive. When talking about coal extraction, a subject that seems hopeless, that’s darn good news.
A lot of people have been talking for a long time about peak oil — the idea that we’ve pretty well used up the half of crude oil in the Earth’s crust that’s easy to get at; the rest will be more difficult and more expensive to get to, and will be extracted more slowly. M. King Hubbert famously predicted in 1956 that these factors would lead to a bell-shaped curve of oil extraction, and his predictions for US oil production were borne out when US production peaked around 1970.
Now it seems that the International Energy Agency, which has traditionally been pretty bullish on oil supplies, has admitted that world oil production peaked in 2006. Of course, many experts have previously estimated that oil peaked around 2005/2006. It’s a little more surprising to hear it from the IEA.
What’s really interesting about this graph is that is appears to be drawn from the demand point of view. Clearly, global demand is increasing, so the top line should go up; if conventional oil has peaked, that means that the “currently producing” line must go down. In between is a big gap, which the IEA fills with a couple of increasingly important oil sources: “fields yet to be developed” and “fields yet to be found”. Those may be convenient fillers, but are a tad on the optimistic side. After all, crude discoveries have been falling since the 1960s.
I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, but I fear it could be a bumpy ride.