What do I know? Turns out not so much…
This blog started in mid 2014 after percolating for years. The void in useful energy information was so huge I was inconsolable. Then the stars aligned, I had some help that pushed it into existence, and it was off and running. I was ready to fill the void in energy information that seemed obvious to me; to explain the energy business that I’ve experienced with no energy connection or axe to grind. My little cranium was bursting with energy stuff to attack the internet with.
It’s easy when you start a blog to feel like an expert, no one reads so no one corrects you haha. The word delusional springs to mind. Well, I have seen what I’ve seen, and I do have a window into many energy processes that others don’t and I’ll continue to write about that. But it turns out I had very little idea what the world really cares about. This blog has led to some delightful interactions with people around the globe, people who’ve given me their impressions of what energy looks like from their view…and my ignorance is astonishing. So when I say these interactions were “delightful”, I mean in the sense of someone telling you there is spinach in your teeth. You’re grateful but it’s not the best thing to hear at the end of an evening.
I write from a North American perspective, and we a coddled and pampered bunch, or most of us are. The phrase “first world problems” is common in my grandiose yet vapid habitat, a mocking yet totally shallow self-examination that captures how we complain about endless trivial problems that much of the world would be glad to have. The part of this self-critique that bothers me is that people inherently are acknowledging that what they are complaining about is ridiculous, yet…they keep doing it. For some that is all they do. The red light at that intersection is too long. The waiter took seven minutes to ask me how my food was, and it was inedible, the spinach was limp. I hate the Bluetooth in my car, it takes several seconds to load. The nanny can’t drive, we have to drive her everywherrrrrre… For us, energy debates are so self-centered it’s comical. The Keystone pipeline is huge news every day, as is talk of the Bakken formation in North Dakota. From a global perspective, it makes us look like chimps.
Meanwhile I hear from the other sides of the earth: nuclear power gives people a lot of second thoughts that we North Americans are totally out of tune with (North America has been pretty much accident free, where as in France, Japan and Central Europe people have lived with the fallout of accidents and Chernobyl). People everywhere are concerned with the environment, and worry about the impacts of a petroleum-based future. South American and African people watch in amazement and shock at what large oil companies can do with total impunity (and I’ve worked in those large oil companies, the staff are not unsympathetic, but probably better described as blissfully ignorant – they being the ones preoccupied with savagely important nanny/BMW/property value concerns…). Even within North America, a thousand points of light (well, at least two…) have shared energy perspectives that were unimaginable to me, an industry “expert” who has the chemical formula for propane or some stupid well drilling statistic at my lips faster than my street address. All valuable and humbling information and I thank you for it.
And finally, climate change really is a big deal for a lot of people. Within my circle in the energy industry, it’s not unusual to zero in on the fallacies propagated by opponents of fossil fuels, and it’s true that any tactic goes in that war. But from a bigger perspective, a lot of people rightly ask the question: what if climate change is real, and it’s caused by burning fossil fuels, and that we could be in serious trouble without action? We in the petroleum industry may feel smug sitting here saying haha, those statistics are all wrong, the world won’t end in 50 years if global temperatures rise, it would be more like 70 – well, maybe it’s time to think like Nassim Taleb, and consider black swans. Sure they may be rare, but if they can wipe you right out, shouldn’t you consider the possibility instead of laughing at the low probability?
This blog is intended to speak to people that are outside my circle, outside the energy world, those people that, for starters, don’t know about the energy industry and more vehemently don’t pack their garages full of German hardware because of it. The more I write, the more I learn how ignorant I am about the energy industry from a global perspective. Thanks for the feedback! I will try to keep explaining energy concepts, but am becoming more aware that speaking with absolute certainty is the mark of an idiot.