A PLEAD FOR EXPLANATIONS
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS….My goodness, what is with the energy industry? A moment scarcely goes by without a barrage of blah blah on radio, television, magazines, newspapers and whatever media platform available. Prices, supply, taxes, regulations, pipelines…..you name it. Governments are quarrelling, producers are having apoplexy over political action or the lack thereof and groups with their specific agendas are bellowing from the roof tops. What is the poor energy consumer to think or do?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..You are correct. There is an uproar just now over an industry that serves us very well.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS…..Is there a simple way of explaining the issues to me, a very confused consumer?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..Surely. How about we begin with a bit of history? Some three hundred years ago James Watt modified an earlier model of the steam engine, starting the Industrial Revolution ball rolling in earnest. Heat was required to generate steam to drive the engines capable of working far in excess of anything individuals could accomplish. Wood in copious quantities was consumed resulting in the decimation of huge tracts of forests. Supply dwindled and coal, with superior heat intensity, became the fuel of choice.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS….What about light?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..Now that is a very good question. Light was largely provided by candles, then by whale oil, then by gas manufactured from coal, then by kerosene, then by the humongous game changing introduction of electricity. Coal fired boilers provided steam necessary to operate turbines which in turn drove electrical generators. Consumers were now locked into coal for work and light.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS…..What about heating and cooling?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..Coal emerged as the fuel burned in furnaces and boilers for heat. For air conditioning the electricity was generated from burning coal. As a consequence the majority of energy for heat, cooling, work and electricity originated from coal.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS…..What about the fuels burned in for transportation such as cars, trucks, ships and planes.
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..This was a critical juncture. Thanks for pointing me in this direction. Henry Ford is the name most associated with commercializing the internal combustion engine. Derivatives refined from crude oil jumped to the forefront for energy sources and lubricants. As well natural gas, a product integral with the oil industry, was fast becoming a fossil fuel of choice. At this juncture fossil fuels played pivotal role as energy suppliers.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS…..Any other uses for these fossil fuels?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES……Yes of course. Feed stock from our industry provide the building blocks for petrochemicals which contribute to our well-being in significant ways. An additional observation if I may? You will know by now that our products and their derivatives are the engines that keep our prosperity growing. In their absence we would be living as we did centuries ago.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS……Do you suppose that the current angst towards the energy industry is a result of a lack of understanding by the consumers about the immense benefits provided by your businesses?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..Precisely! We have done an excellent job by providing readily available products for every energy need. As I said earlier citizens the world over benefit from the results of our innovations and entrepreneurship.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS…..Building such huge demand for energy supplies and petrochemicals is amazing. How have you done it?
ENEGRY INDUSTRY REPLIES….In a nut shell we have capitalized on inventions by technology titans such as James Watt, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and William Caruthers. They all provided the catalysts for our prosperity.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS…..How about competition these days?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..Competition is fierce. Vying for new reserves to develop, produce, transport and market is intense, requiring capital and skills. Technology remains transformative. Consumers are the big winners as a result.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER ASKS….New sources of energy are appearing with distinct advantages over those now widely in place; coal is losing lustre; products of combustion are invading our atmosphere…..are you at all concerned?
ENERGY INDUSTRY REPLIES…..All competitive forces will only make us better.
Ms ENERGY CONSUMER COMMENTS…..You have clarified many of the issues facing the energy universe….thanks for that. Next time around the bridge table my observations will be knowledge based. I can say that your industry has done an excellent but under-appreciated job of catalyzing economic growth; you have capitalized on inventions originating outside your industry, competitive forces are emerging from under represented energy sources; and products of combustion are concentrating in the world’s atmosphere. On the positive side energy demand continues to grow.
My son in law is a technology wizard and a student of the profound interruptions industries have experienced throughout history. A favourite quote of his originates from Leroy “Satchell” Paige…..don’t look, something might be gaining on you.