Thoughts for Earth Day, 2017.
When considering the length of the history of humankind, the last hundred years isn’t really a very long period of time. Yet the progress we’ve made in science and technology since the late 1800’s has been phenomenal!
Take energy management practices and technologies for example. Through the late 1800s, energy management meant having enough wood on the wood pile (or coal in the bin) to last through the winter.
Searching the newspaper archives for Salt Lake City, this 1937 photo showing the smoke in the air presents a perfect picture of how bad it was. Coal was the primary source of heat in those days. It was said that in some areas, grass and trees wouldn’t grow due to the pollution. People couldn’t hang their wash out to dry without it becoming covered in black soot. The urgency of cleaner heating technologies was obvious.
In the years since, we have developed a much better understanding of the limits of our natural resources and some of the consequences on our environment of indiscriminate use of those resources. We are beginning to understand the importance of managing those resources more responsibly.
Measurement and progress
It is axiomatic that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. New scientific methods and technologies allow us to monitor energy use and the impact it has on our environment.
We have been able to make great progress. Cars are now much cleaner; buildings are more efficient; industry generates far fewer emissions; our air and waterways are cleaner; and at the same time, we are more comfortable in our homes and work places. New electric motor and battery technologies are making it possible to power cars and trucks with electricity instead of carbon fuels. Renewable energy sources can be both clean and efficient. They are not yet perfect but the future looks quite promising.
Having said that, however, there is still much to do. Just visit Salt Lake City during a winter temperature inversion. The evidences of modern pollution will literally slap you in the face (and lungs). The problem is that we’ve already picked most of the low-hanging fruit. Future gains will be more difficult and more expensive. The financial expense makes it a political problem as much as a scientific problem; yet, we believe progress will continue and that through constant incremental improvement, we will prevail.
At Summa Energy Solutions, we believe in responsible use of resources and responsible treatment of our environment. We will continue to do our part to provide measurement and verification systems that paint an ever better picture of our energy and water utilization. Together, we can make this a better world for our children and all who are still to come. Happy Earth Day!