In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was a time when pollution made many of our nation's rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City's air pollution was so thick that you often couldn't see the city's iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds.
Over in the US, most people are now receiving energy efficiency reports with the colorful bar graphs that show how their energy use stacks up against their neighbors. This isn't an idle “FYI'' exercise, but a carefully designed strategy aimed at encouraging people to cut back on the power.
In The Oracle of Oil, Mason Inman examines the history of "peak oil" and the planet's ever-diminishing resources through the story of M. King Hubbert, the geologist who first realized oil's days were ultimately numbered. In a companion Q+A with Nexus Media, Inman shares his insights on the future of oil in the age of climate change. Read an excerpt from the book below.
Visionary geologist M. King Hubbert met both ridicule and praise for investigating the reality of "peak oil" and the ever-shrinking supply of traditional energy sources. It's a complex tale that Mason Inman reveals in his book, The Oracle of Oil, with lessons for how society can move forward without running short of fuel.
Normally, fire whirls are one natural phenomenon you'd want to stay well clear of. When these flaming maelstroms develop in the wild, they are catastrophically dangerous. But scientists are attempting to harness their power in the lab. In a new experiment, engineers at the University of Maryland in College Park ignited a tiny fire whirl and were able to transform it into a new kind of blaze. This “blue whirl” burns nearly soot-free, and may be able to produce energy with low amounts of pollution, or offer a new tool to clean up oil spills.