Last week The New York Times ran an interesting special section on the topic of energy.

The lead article, “There Will Be Fuel,” touched as much on the human-behavior element associated with energy solutions, as it did on the technical. That is, we especially worry about developing a comprehensive energy infrastructure when we fear that our existing supply is threatened. Otherwise, we tend to exhale and wait for the next crisis.

In other words, we wake up on a cold morning to find that our car battery is dead. We get a jump from the next-door neighbor and don’t bother to replace the battery. Two weeks later, the temperature is below freezing, we’re at Aunt Gracie’s house 30 miles from home for Sunday dinner and when we’re ready to come home the battery is dead in the water and no matter how much voltage we pump into it the car won’t start. We panic.

The world faces many challenging crises. It always has no matter the time in history. Energy continues to be one of them. When it comes to energy we can’t let our guard down, even if we realize that the existing supply is more abundant than we feared.

3 Responses to “”

  1. 1 Bob Ballard
    December 17, 2010 at 1:22 am

    ASME is in a unique position to foster the realization that for the US to ever achieve energy independence we must pursue all energy resources, not just concentrate on and subsidize renewables. For example, I am currently deeply involved in gasification of coal and researching the utilization of synthesis gas. As strongly as I believe that we need to utilize the coal resource that we have, I am not blinded to the need for nuclear, hydro, solar, wind and NG power generation. We need it all to grow our economy.

  2. 2 Barbara Crowe
    January 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I am concerned with the development of our engineering students and how they are going to compete in the future with China’s and India’s graduates. Are we offering enough promise of innovation and creation here in the U.S. to fund the types of programs in the universities that will drive excellence in our workforce? Short of becoming an entrepreneur are we going to have the jobs here in the U.S. that will interest an engineering workforce that now is in grade school?

  3. 3 Orville Meyer
    January 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    As an association of engineers, ASME needs to be responsive to what makes technical and scientific sense when it comes to energy. There is not a shortage of crude oil in the ground but when you are not allowed to even look for it in areas that are highly suspected of containing large reserves, the United States (US) will remain dependent on crude oil controlled by other countries. Add to that the fact that the refining industry in the US has been running at capacity for decades, cannot keep up with demand for finished products even running at capacity, large volumes of gasoline and refined products are being imported into this country, EPA has made it next to impossible to build new refineries and cost prohibitive [but not impossible] to enlarge existing facilities; and the result is gasoline priced over $3.00 a gallon (and it will continue to rise). ASME needs to support the exploration and drilling in areas that are currently off limits by the US Government and ASME should also support having EPA reduce the burdens placed on constructing, enlarging, and operating refineries in the US. IF the US does not change the way crude oil is produced and refined, eventually we will not be dependent on foreign countries for crude oil supplies but for the refined products that power our cars, planes, and trains.

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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

November 2010

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