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Week of 1 May 2023: What can we say about energy that we have not said before?

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It is energy month again, and, quite frankly, I am getting tired of talking about energy matters. As I have stated before, the first energy crisis occurred about four months after I received my undergraduate degree. We have been talking about energy ever since, not only in our mills, but in life in general.

At first, the issue was, do we have enough? At the time, known petroleum reserves were about eight years, which would have gotten us to 1981. Obviously that was incorrect.

Later in my career, climate change became the issue when the powers that be decided we face global warming instead of global cooling. For you youngsters, in the 1970's, the minds in the know told us we would be a solid block of ice by now. As I remember the eighties, matters we somewhat neutral and since then, we have been on this global warming kick.

As you know, I am a sceptic, but willing to learn if someone can give me some non-political irrefutable real scientific data. I'll save you some time, it doesn't exist, at least not to the rigors of scientific verification I was taught in my school days.

If you get your climate data from all the usual sources, I suggest you take a look at "Watts Up With That?" ( You may not agree with what you read there, but at least it will give you another viewpoint.

But where are we? We live in a world that, rightly or wrongly, believes we are in the throes of global warming and we must adjust our products and services to recognize this situation if we wish to continue in business. Added to this thinking is that we are approaching a limit to the burden that humankind places on the earth in terms of our raw material consumption and our waste expulsion.

Clean air, clean water, conservation of resources, and responsible (and minimal) waste disposal. I am 100% behind these ideas, as I think we will find any reasonably minded fellow earth passenger. It just makes sense. Our angst and hyperbole are really just around the fringes.

Yet there is one other area that is a problem. Those in regulatory positions, some of those in energy research, are one trick ponies. They are brilliant people, dedicated to their causes (likely since at least high school) and do their jobs very, very well. However, they have no backup careers.

In order for many regulators to continue to be gainfully employed in their chosen profession, they must continually dig deeper in the science they know. The scientific instrument companies follow them down these rabbit holes, resulting in a codependency situation that gets ever more finely granulated. We experienced this about thirty-five years ago when an instrument was developed that could measure dioxin to a level of about thirty drops per bleached pulp mill per year.

This resulted in an alarm that went off throughout every pulp mill that used chlorine as a bleaching agent (accused of being the source of the dioxin), resulting in enormous expenditures to eliminate chlorine in any form.

I do notice, however, that chlorine bleach is still widely sold for household use.

How did I get here from energy? I think these matters are all tied together as I mentioned earlier (clean air, clean water...). And I think we have stables full of one trick ponies taking us beyond the places we may need to go.

I'll try to be more on topic next week.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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Members Opinions:
April 27, 2023 at 4:22pm
Interesting points. Back in the late 90's I attended a meeting that had an instrument company that gave a presentation that they were developing an instrument that could read chlorine down to about 1/10 of what other instruments could. I asked him why any of the energy companies would want that because the EPA had a history of setting levels at the lowest detectable. This means that if someone could detect it, you were out of compliance and subject to fines and possible criminal charges. By the way, we used to say that the power plant managers were the company's delegated felons.

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