Posted June 17, 2016
From the fuels that get artists and their fans to the shows, to the power for electricity to run lighting and sound systems to the materials and processes for recording and producing music compact discs and more, energy is there. It’s the essential element. Without power from natural gas, without fuels and byproducts made from oil, we’d still have the melodies. But the concerts would be smaller, limited to far less-traveled troubadours. And much less enjoyed.
Just consider the power needed to record a song. Virtually all of the equipment in a recording studio is powered by electricity, which is increasingly being generated by clean-burning natural gas. Thanks to advanced hydraulic fracturing and modern horizontal drilling, the United States is producing increasing amounts of natural gas for power generation, heating homes and cooking our meals. If we could write a song about it, a good one, we might book some time in John McBride’s Blackbird recording studio in Nashville
Posted June 9, 2016
I’m a big fan of breakfast, especially a long, leisurely weekend brunch with eggs, bacon and mimosas. But, most days, my breakfast is a bit quicker: a piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal (with milk, of course) and a cup of that nectar of the gods—coffee.
And I’m not alone. While restaurants, particularly fast-service restaurants are increasing their breakfast offerings, 70% of breakfast meals still are eaten at home. The average annual number of breakfast occasions per person in 2015 was 361, which was up 11 occasions from 2010.
While my humble, weekday morning repast provides more than enough fuel to get me through the long day ahead, it actually takes a lot of energy--from a variety of sources--to get this simple breakfast from the fields to my table.
Posted June 3, 2016
Since the days of our hunter and gatherer ancestors, farmers have fed society. But in the last 150 years, energy-based technology has revolutionized how they do it. With the introduction of tractors, harvesters, automated feeders and milking systems, the ability to produce food has exploded. This has allowed our land to yield more, a vital necessity as our country’s population more than tripled in the last century. And as we grow our farmers and their technology grow with us. Crops like barley grew in production from 20.9 bushels per acre in 1916 to 68.9 bushels today. Corn has increased from 24 bushels to an incredible 168 in that same time period. But this wealth of harvest has only been possible because of farmers’ access to plentiful and affordable energy.
Posted May 26, 2016
No matter where you want to go, there’s probably a road, a drive, that can take you there. Whether you were born to run or find yourself running on empty, the road beckons – and historically we Americans answer the summons. Truly, life is a highway.
This Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimates more than 38 million Americans will be on the road, taking advantage of gasoline prices that are at their lowest levels in 11 years. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is around $2.26, 45 cents lower than last year, AAA says. Already this year Americans have saved more than $15 billion on gas.
Posted May 19, 2016
It’s a fundamental question before most, if not all, of the 2.83 million graduates (associate’s and bachelor’s) in the college Class of 2016: What do you want to be?
More to the point: Where do your interests lie, how might what you learned in college be applied and where might career opportunity be found?
Think energy. Here’s why: The U.S. – and the world – will always need energy.
Posted May 12, 2016
As an Army captain serving in France during World War I, future President Harry S Truman depended on horses to keep him and the soldiers in his field artillery battery moving. He probably didn’t realize it at the time, but the era of horse-powered combat was nearing its end after thousands of years. Modern navies, aircraft, mechanized transports and armored tanks – all powered by petroleum products – were on the scene to change the nature of the armed forces of the world forever.
Today, a century later, the U.S. military is the most technologically advanced and successful in the world. Well-trained men and women are the core of the military’s ability to defend the nation, but they couldn’t do it without modern equipment – powered by modern energy.
Posted May 5, 2016
According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers will spend $2.4 billion on Mother’s Day flowers this year. Of Mother’s Day shoppers, more than 66 percent will give flowers to a mom or stepmom, wife, daughter, sister, grandmother and others.
Facilitating this Mother’s Day activity? Energy.
Posted April 29, 2016
Energy is in just about everything we use and in nearly everything we do. Energy for the chemicals and component parts. Energy in manufacturing processes. Energy for mobility. Yet, because everyone is busy, there’s not a whole lot of time to reflect, and much gets taken for granted. That book you read – energy. The medical technology that keeps you healthy – energy. A night at a ballgame – energy. And more.
In our 2016 look at the energy that supports and powers modern living, the goal is to get more folks to pause and wonder: “Where did that come from?” And: “What makes that go?” In virtually every instance the answer is energy – oil, natural gas and things made from them.
We depend on oil and gas because there’s nothing like them for energy content, portability and adaptability. They’re in chemicals and products all around us: plastics, clothing, medicines and more. Leave them in the ground? Only if you think you’d enjoy a world that’s colder, harsher and less healthy, a world that’s smaller because travel is greatly restricted – one in which millions are relegated to poverty, with near-zero opportunity to change their lives’ trajectory.
Today let’s focus on one of the basic necessities of life: shelter. According to Habitat for Humanity, 1.6 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless. So, that roof over your head – what did it take to build that? First, some home-building basics.
Posted April 22, 2016
Modern wastewater treatment facilities are the first responders in the transformation of used water – from urban and suburban runoff, agriculture and the daily needs of every man, woman and child – into water that’s usable again.
Enter energy. No one should be surprised that the process of wastewater treatment takes lots of energy. The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant that serves the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Northern Virginia, the third-largest plant of its kind in the world, is the largest single-source consumer of electricity in D.C. As we’ve noted throughout this series, electricity generation is increasingly being fueled by clean-burning natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects that this year, for the first time ever, natural gas will be the United States’ leading energy source for power generation. Bottom line: Energy is fundamental to clean water for all.
Posted April 14, 2016
Sneezing is essential to good health – and so are modern pharmaceuticals. Whether your problem is an allergy, a head cold or something more serious, modern medicines help make life healthier, more comfortable and better. Energy is there, too, with chemicals derived from petroleum serving as the building blocks for Aspirin, antibiotics and other helpful stuff. And, of course, energy is integral to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals – for equipment, plant operations and delivery systems.
The flu season has passed, but spring means the onset of allergy season, with budding trees, blooming flowers and birds coming home from southern winter vacations. Over-the-counter and prescription medications make springtime more pleasant for millions of allergy sufferers. Americans spend almost $15 billion a year on allergy medicines. The active ingredients may vary, but all allergy drugs and other pharmaceuticals that improve our health and quality of life depend on energy.