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Pondering energy’s future

first_imgEvery day, the United States sends $1 billion offshore to finance its appetite for fossil fuels, a situation recognized for decades as a threat to national security and energy independence.In 1974, President Richard Nixon was the first in a long line of chief executives to promise reductions in energy from abroad. But the percentage of U.S. oil imports since then has nearly doubled.Meanwhile, fossil fuels are the source of the greenhouse gases blamed for global climate change, an ongoing problem that has engendered another round of presidential promises. The Obama White House recently pledged to reduce such gases 83 percent by 2050, with 2005 as a baseline year.Reducing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases are the two major challenges of U.S. energy systems, a visiting federal energy official told a Harvard audience Tuesday (Sept. 21). To meet these challenges, he said, the government’s best role is to mitigate risk in the energy industry and to leverage innovation.Theoretical physicist Steven Koonin, undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), opened this year’s Future of Energy lecture series, sponsored by the Harvard University Center for the Environment.Koonin is a rare veteran of all three spheres in the energy puzzle: academe, business, and government. He has been a professor and provost (California Institute of Technology), an industry chief scientist (BP), and since last year a federal bureaucrat. At the DOE, Koonin is the science office’s chief research officer. If you count last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he has influence over $100 million in funding for energy-related research, loans, and loan guarantees.Koonin offered a broad perspective in his session opening the series. Center director and climate scientist Daniel Schrag said that the next lecture — coming Oct. 12 by an executive whose company makes tiny $2,000 cars — will get down to the details of managing Earth’s energy future.Koonin told a capacity crowd at Science Center D that the U.S. energy business is complex, operates by calculating risk and profit in the long term, and approaches innovation slowly and conservatively. After all, he said, any decision on technology will create infrastructures — and costs — that last for decades.“The energy business is not simple,” said Koonin, “and the people in it are not troglodytes.”Nor are they venture capitalists, said Koonin. In that economic sector, risk and innovation are king, but profits get taken fast. “Exit time” is measured in years, not decades. And average funding pools — at $150 million — are not enough to prompt scaled-up change in energy systems. “The energy business,” said Koonin, “is not the venture capital business.”He said government does not have sufficient capital of its own to scale up the needed changes in energy systems, which remain largely in private hands. Change only will happen if it is profitable or mandated, said Koonin. Government tax credits are powerful incentives for change, he said. Wind industry installations went up when the credits were in place, and slipped when the credits disappeared.Government can also play a big role in the essential steps that Koonin outlined to improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gases. Among them:Promote vehicle efficiency. The technology is in hand to increase the fuel efficiency of American cars by 30 percent, for about $2,000 a vehicle.Conserve. Koonin offered “a sense of what is possible” in one example. If all motorists in Texas simply drove at the speed limit, U.S. gas consumption would come down 12 percent.Gradually electrify the U.S. vehicle fleet.Pursue unconventional fuels.Decrease the energy intensity of buildings. Heating, cooling, lighting, and ventilating use 40 percent of U.S. energy.Develop “smart grids” for energy transmission and storage. That means adding digital sensing, measuring, and control devices to increase reliability and efficiency.Set a price for carbon, by cap-and-trade or other means.Explore emerging technologies such as concentrated solar power and carbon capture and storage.Changing energy systems is difficult and slow, said Koonin, who reviewed the historical record from 1850 onward. Industry favors change on “decadal time scales,” he said. The gas-scrubbing systems for coal plants, for instance, took 40 years to develop and perfect.But government can help industry to manage the capital risk of energy innovation, said Koonin, and is already accelerating invention in what he called “a new set of research structures.” These include a network of national labs, the federal “energy hub” concept, and, for short-term projects, the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy.Koonin’s decades of research often involved large-scale rapid computing, so he sees another bright side to the energy innovation picture: big and fast computer simulations of the kind that in the 1990s were used to replace U.S. nuclear testing. That alone, he said, accelerated computer technology by a factor of 10,000.The same predictive simulation capability can be focused on U.S. energy issues, said Koonin. “We need to do more of this, faster.”last_img read more

Census of Agriculture

first_imgThis year, for the first time, the census is conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’sNational Agricultural Statistics Service. Before, the Census Bureau had conducted theagricultural census. U.S. farmers and ranchers have until Feb. 2 to report their 1997 operations to be counted inthe 25th Census of Agriculture. The census offers a complete accounting of U.S. farmproduction. To make it easier to report, this year’s census forms ask questions about basic subjects.Among them are land use and ownership, crop acreage and quantities harvested, livestock andpoultry inventories, value of crops and livestock sold and farm operation characteristics. The census also provides a national history of agriculture. It was taken every 10 years from1840 to 1920 and every five years from 1925 until 1974. The law was then changed to gatherdata on years ending in two and seven, beginning with the 1982 census. “The dynamic nature of agriculture makes the census important,” said University of Georgiaexpert Horace Hudson. He heads Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education andCommunication in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Federal law requires farmers to answer the census. The same law also protects the privacy oftheir reports. They may be seen only by sworn USDA employees and used only for statisticalpurposes. Copies submitted by farmers are immune from legal processes. Farmers and ranchers who need help completing the census form may call their countyExtension Service office. Or they can call the NASS office at (888) 424-7828. Furtherinformation is also on-line at www.usda.gov/nass/. * Farm organizations use census data to evaluate and propose programs and policies that canhelp farmers. * Rural electric companies use it to forecast future energy needs for farms and farmcommunities. The data provided by the census has many uses: “I don’t think people realize how much a part of their communities agriculture is,” said SueBoatright. The data collection coordinator for the CAES department of agricultural and appliedeconomics, she is also a coauthor of the annual Georgia County Guide. * Colleges and universities use it in research programs to develop new and improved ways toincrease production. * Elected representatives use the data to develop programs to protect and promote U.S.agriculture. “Constant, significant changes happen every four or five years in agriculture. And we need tohave a record of those changes,” Hudson said. “We also have several commodities in Georgia,like kenaf, that are in their infancy, and we need to chart their growth.” The census, the only source of uniform, comprehensive farm data for every U.S. county, is atool to help determine acres planted and harvested by crop. It gives valuable information tofarm organizations and business planners. Policy makers also use the information in proposingnational farm policy. “Most important for farmers, it’s not just a help. It’s the law,” Hudson said. * Agribusinesses use the data to develop market strategies and to learn the most effectiveplaces of service to farmers. About 25 percent of the farms will be asked other questions on production expenses,machinery inventories, market value of land and buildings and income from farm-relatedsources. “The census gives information about the counties that isn’t available anywhere else,” she said.”It tells just how much of the economy is dependent on agriculture and agribusiness.” last_img read more

Shock Messi’s hint on Bielsa sends jitters into Leeds camp

first_img Promoted Content7 Black Hole Facts That Will Change Your View Of The UniverseCouples Who Celebrated Their Union In A Unique, Unforgettable Way7 Universities In The World Where Education Costs Too Much5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parks11 Most Immersive Game To Play On Your Table Top8 Things To Expect If An Asteroid Hits Our Planet9 Facts You Should Know Before Getting A TattooWho Is The Most Powerful Woman On Earth?5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme ParksThe Very Last Bitcoin Will Be Mined Around 2140. Read MoreWhich Country Is The Most Romantic In The World?Fantastic-Looking (and Probably Delicious) Bread Art And Messi believes the ideal solution would be to bring in Bielsa to stop the rot. As the man idolised by Pep Guardiola for his coaching beliefs, Bielsa’s approach to the game is one Messi feels would work well in Barcelona. At this stage, there has been no contact between Barca and Bielsa’s representatives. But that threat will certainly set alarm bells ringing at Elland Road. Club bosses have so far been fairly relaxed about delaying new talks to allow Bielsa to enjoy the title celebrations. read also:Inter boss Conte brands Messi talk as ‘fantasy football’ However, the prospect of losing a man who has done so much for the club may prompt to act imminently. Leeds’ hand may also be forced after they recently lost Bielsa’s right-hand man Carlos Corberan to Huddersfield. The Spaniard was being lined-up as Bielsa’s long-term replacement at Elland Road but took over as Town boss on July 23. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Loading… center_img Lionel Messi has reportedly told Barcelona to snatch Marcelo Bielsa from Leeds to become the new boss at the Nou Camp. Bielsa is yet to agree a new contract with the Championship winners, with his existing deal running out this week. And Messi wants Barca to go all out to try to tempt the 64-year-old away from Yorkshire to take over from Quique Setien, according to The Sun. Barcelona are struggling on and off the pitch, with Real Madrid winning the title amid financial troubles in Catalonia. The LaLiga giants have reportedly put 12 first-team players up for sale as they look to get back on track. There are also issues between Setien and Messi, with the pair having a strained relationship. The battle is also on for the club presidency. With current incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu facing criticism for his handling of affairs. Bartomeu favours making club legend Xavi the new manager. But the former Barca midfielder has his concerns about returning.Advertisementlast_img read more