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Contemporary Issues

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  1. Contemporary Issues Unit Two Source:

  2. Use Policy • This material was developed by Timothy J. Wilhelm, P.E., Kankakee Community College, with funding from the National Science Foundation as part of ATE Grant No. 0802786. • All materials in this presentation are designed and intended for educational use, only. They may not be used for any publication or commercial purposes. Source:

  3. Author, Editors/Reviewers • Author: Timothy J. Wilhelm, P.E., Kankakee Community College • Editors/Reviewers/Modifier • Chris Miller, Heartland Community College Source:

  4. Objectives • Students will be able to define the modern meaning of the word “sustainability,” in simple, basic terms. • Students will be able to discuss the differences between the modern ideas of “renewable” energy and “non-renewable” energy. • Students will be able to describe what is meant by the “peak oil problem,” in simple, basic terms. Source:

  5. Objectives • Students will be able to describe, in simple, basic terms, what is (are) currently believed to be the primary cause(s) of “global warming” and climate change.” • Students will be, in simple terms, conversant with the pro and con positions regarding the belief in and acceptance of the modern ideas of “global warming” and climate change.” Source:

  6. Objectives • Students will be able to describe and discuss, in simple, basic terms, the differences between centralized and distributed energy-infrastructure systems, as well as the current concerns regarding all of the U.S. infrastructure system. Source:

  7. FIRST… Let’s talk about “Sustainability”…

  8. Sustainability “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” World Commission on Economic Development. (1987). Our Common Future. England: Oxford University Press.

  9. Let’s Look at a Few Events from the Not-too-Distant Past

  10. 09/06/07 Israeli Air Strike on Syria

  11. “Global Warming” Creates a New Kind of Crisis

  12. Serious Drought in High-Population Areas

  13. Bridge Collapse

  14. The Historic BP Oil “Spill”

  15. NDM-1

  16. How much do you know about these sustainability issues? Source:

  17. How many tons of water does it take to produce 1 ton of grain?A. 1 tonB. 400 tonsC. 1000 tonsD. 1300 tons

  18. Answer: C - 1000 tons

  19. What is the population of the United States?A. 25 millionB. 298 millionC. 104 millionD. 1.5 billion

  20. Answer: B - 298 million

  21. How many cars are there in the entire world fleet?A. 800 millionB. 250 millionC. 88 millionD. 23 million

  22. Answer: A – 800 million

  23. The U.S. food economy uses as much energy as France does in its entire economy. True or False?

  24. TRUE!

  25. Contemporary Issues • The so-called “Peak Oil Problem” • The so-called “Global Warming Crisis” • Apparent and suspected “Climate Change” • Increases in the cost of transportation fuel • Increases in the cost of electricity • Decay of the existing infrastructure • The supposed ongoing threat of “Terrorism” • The current financial crisis…“Mortgage Crisis”…the bail outs of “Freddie Mac” and Fannie Mae”…crisisin the auto inductry…growing unemployment… • What others can you think of?

  26. Do the Science…Do the Math…Ask Questions!!! • Are the average temperatures of the Earth’s surface, and/or the atmosphere, and/or the oceans really increasing? • If “yes,” what are the realistic cause-and-effect implications of this temperature rise, and are they “good” or “bad?” • If “yes,” to what degree can this temperature rise be attributed to Human cause? • If “yes,” and if there is Human culpability, is there any realistic expectation that a change in Human habit and activity will diminish, halt, or reverse the temperature rise?

  27. The Impending Energy and Infrastructure Crisis

  28. Context and Comments • Based largely on personal experience, personal observations, and personal conclusions. • Much of the data is anecdotal, derived from conferences, personal conversations, telephone interviews, news reports, and internet searches. • It’s better to heed the signs of life, prepare for the worst and hope for the best, vs… • ignore the signs of life and pretend the worst can’t happen.

  29. Prophets and Time Monks… • Tracking expression of human emotion to predict future events… • Natural Law…Cause-and-Effect…

  30. There are “tells” available in all aspects of daily life…

  31. Can you read the Signs of Life?Does anybody see what I see?

  32. Signs of Life #1: Two-Day WORKSHOPDesign of Small-Scale Electric Power Systems • July 23rd and 24th, 1998; Cleveland, Ohio • T2G, Technical Training Group • K. James Phillips, Jr., P.E. • Principle engineer for Phillips Engineers and Consultants, Inc. – offices in Ohio and California • An IEEE Distinguished Lecturer (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) • A member of the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee, “responsible for the development of position paper, and providing technical assistance and testimony for the United States Congress on energy related matters.”

  33. “Why focus on small-scale power plant design? Does it have anything to do with Y2K?” • “HA!” Let me ask you a few questions… • “When was the last time they built a new electric power plant in your area?” • “What do you see happening in every suburban area of the country?” • “Let me tell you about Y2K…”

  34. K. James Phillips, Jr., P.E. (Prophesy Excellence) • August, 1998 – rolling blackouts in Chicago • Remainder of 1998 – major blackouts in San Francisco and Maui • Multiple outages in 1999 -- Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, New England, New Jersey, Long Island and South Central States • June, 2000 – largest planned blackout in California history • January, 2001 – rolling blackouts within California • March, 2001 – California’s first Statewide rolling blackouts.

  35. August 14, 2003 Blackout in Northeast U.S and Canada

  36. Signs of Life #2: FORMAL TESTIMONYThe American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) • March 27, 2001; Washington, DC • Statement of the ASCE before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water of the Committee on Environment and Public Works on Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Needs. • ASCE’s 12 infrastructure categories: Roads, Bridges, Transit, Aviation, Energy, Schools, Drinkable Water, Wastewater, Dams, Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste, and Navigable Waterways. • ASCE President Thomas Jackson, told reporters, "We're sliding toward failure and the prospects for improvement are grim."

  37. In the September 24, 2003 Edition of The Guardian • US$1.6 trillion needed to bring US infrastructure to an “adequate” level. • Traffic congestion, polluted air and beaches, overcrowded schools, potholes, blackouts, broken water mains and decaying bridges are daily miseries that most everyone has had to confront. These hazards and disruptions will continue and in some cases worsen, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). • by Terrie Albano

  38. Just a few summers ago in Kankakee, IL… • Water main break… • Hundreds of homes without water for multiple days; • Water main just gave out because it was “old;” • The short section that was repaired is now like new; but… • The entire remaining length of the water main is still “old.”

  39. Signs of Life #3: Formal PRESS RELEASESIllinois Deregulates Electric Utilities • A number of years ago, State Representative Phil Novak headed the effort in Illinois to deregulate the electric utilities. • Residential electricity is now fully deregulated… • Legislated price cap ceased at the end of 2006… • Double-digit price increases implemented in 2007… • Look at CA, NY, and NJ!!!

  40. $.75/KWHr. by 2030?

  41. Signs of Life #4: The New Scientific DebateThe Global Warming Debate

  42. BUT…

  43. Signs of Life #5: Three-Day CONFERENCESunWize Technologies, Inc. Dealer Conference • November, 2002; Camarillo, California • Panel Discussions, Professional Presentations, and Vendor Presentations • Representatives from Shell Solar gave a presentation and a tour of their Camarillo facility • Shell had just recently purchased Siemens Solar, at that time the world’s largest manufacturer of Solar-Photovoltaic (PV) modules.

  44. A few folks in the audience boo-ed… • “Yah-h-h, I know what some of you ex-hippies are thinkin’…” • “Shell is no longer just an oil company…” • “We know better than anybody how much oil is left in the ground…and I’m gonna tell ya…” “Twenty-Seven Years…”

  45. “Okay, maybe a little more than twenty-seven years, but…” • “Possibly little or no gasoline available… $6/gallon, or more, if any…” • Remaining petro-fuels “priority allocated…” • “Alternative Energy? There is no alternative!”

  46. Signs of Life #6: A fifty year old predictionThe Peak-Oil Problem

  47. Marion King Hubbert • Shell Oil Geologist/ Petroleum Scientist • 1949 – projected short historical oil period • 1956 - predicted 1970 as the U.S. Peak Oil year • 1969 - predicted World Peak Oil year 2000

  48. The Air Mattress Problem • The Peak OilProblem implies we have pulled out of the Earth approximately half of the available petroleum (crude oil and natural gas) available, and… • The other half will be much harder to extract and will not meet the growing world demand within the next few years. 

  49. “On a cumulative basis, we have pumped almost 1 trillion barrels of oil, and estimates for total recoverable oil are about 2 trillion barrels or a little more.” Financial Planning Magazine(Oct. 2005) Source: Michael Brownlee and William Wilson, Center for Sustainable Community

  50. How Much Two Trillion Barrels? • Consider the Great Lakes… • Covering more than 94,000 square miles, combined they hold an estimated 6 quadrillion gallons of water. • 6 Quadrillion = 6 + fifteen 0’s 6,000,000,000,000,000 • Divide that by 42 (gal/barrel) = 143,000,000,000,000 = 143 trillion barrels of water Source: Michael Brownlee and William Wilson, Center for Sustainable Community