Authors and Essays 2006

Power to the People

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The Power of One

For 50 years the U.S. has protected access to Persian Gulf oil with military interventions and war to support the energy intensive lifestyles of American individuals. It seems likely that continued reliance on Persian Gulf oil will require more of the same. Considering the virtual certainty that someday this unsustainable resource will be gone, we have a choice. We can stop using it now and prevent more war, or we can fight for another fifty years and stop using it then. This paper elaborates on those themes and provides a blueprint for anyone who would join the effort to prevent future wars by choosing a less energy intensive lifestyle today.
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Walt Alderman
Business Administration
UNH Manchester

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Here Comes the Sun: the Promise of Solar Energy

George Harrison, the youngest Beatle, wrote the classic “Here Comes the Sun” in 1969 after spending a glorious day walking around his friend Eric Clapton’s garden. Today, Harrison’s refrain, “And I say, ‘It’s All right’,” accords well with a solar power industry that has grown more than 30 percent in the past six years and received tax-favorable legislative approval in 2006.

In a dialogue format intended especially for the non-science major, this essay will ask:

  • What is energy?
  • How do oil, coal, and natural gas provide electricity?
  • What are the fossil fuel requirements for tasks ranging from using a light bulb to powering a mid-sized city?
  • How do we use the sun to make electricity?
  • Can electricity from the sun ever completely replace fossil fuels?
  • Does solar powered electricity cost more than electricity from fossil fuels?
  • What prevents us from making more solar electricity now?
  • What is the future of solar energy?

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Carmela Amato-Wierda 
Materials Science 
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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Peak Oil, Geopolitics and the Need for Relocalization

Those of us who lived through the “energy crisis” of the 1970s recall the intense discussion and debate on energy issues, with the oil embargoes, gasoline shortages, and skyrocketing prices that characterized the period. The past year has felt like de ja vu as we return to this subject in the new context of the 21st century.

This essay will look at the peak oil question, contemporary “oil geopolitics” and their effect not only on energy supplies, but also on transportation, agriculture and food supplies, and population distribution in the United States. While the war in Iraq forms a centerpiece in the geopolitical scene, Russia, China, and other nations will be discussed as well. This essay will also examine the inevitable relocalization which appears to be a necessary result.
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John Carroll
Natural Resources
College of Life Sciences and Agriculture

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Hop on the Bus, Gus: The Power of Public Transit

However we look at energy, it is in essence something that fuels a system, allows it to operate and perform its functions. Transportation is one such system.

As a society, we have designed a transportation system that appears to work quite well for most of us; all we have to do is hop into a car and we are going places! Unfortunately, that system doesn’t work for all of us. The barrier to participation is really quite high. One must be able to afford a car, to maintain a car, and to insure a car and one must be able to drive - otherwise the system doesn’t offer much. In order to receive at least some benefit, access by the non-driver must be facilitated. Access facilitation to the transportation system is most often referred to as public transit. You may know it as the school bus or senior transportation. You may know it as the subway or the Wildcat transit bus.

We will make the link between transportation/community access and community planning. Energy use is illustrated as a systems function that is most economically administered if all user groups are involved and included in the design process, so that we can all get there.
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Sönke Dornblut
Institute On Disability

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Powering Down Technology

Throughout the digital decade (2000-2010), we have seen a significant increase in the use of technology and the volume of data collected. As a result, companies have created storage facilities that house and maintain computer equipment. These facilities, referred to as ‘Data Centers’, are consuming an average of six times the amount of energy as a traditional office buildings. It is estimated that an additional 12 million square feet of data center space will be added by 2009 which result 8% increase in power requirements per year (Patton, 2006).

The invasions of Iraq and the expansion of the economy in China are factors that have helped create a global energy crisis. The world’s consumption of energy now exceeds the industries ability to produce energy. The cost of energy is rising. In February 2006, the price of oil reached $60 per barrel. Analysts reported that business consumers paid an electricity bill of 3.3 billion dollars in 2005, a 20% increase from 2004. Managers fear that the cost of operating a data center will someday exceed the value of the equipment (Dunn, 2006).

This paper will examine the issue of energy consumption resulting from the use of technology. It will identify and evaluate potential solutions currently being deployed by data center managers. In addition, the paper will recommend guidelines for reducing energy consumption for both the individual and business consumer.

Dunn, D. (2006, February). Power Surge. Information Week.
Patton, S. (2006, April). Powering Down. CIO Magazine.

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Janine Jacques
Computer Information systems

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Energy's Human Face: Immigrant Stories in Song

My proposal for the UNH Discovery Dialogue concerns a form of social energy at the roots of our American social experience. This is the energy of those individuals who came as immigrants to our country as a result of their own personal decisiveness. It is the energy of those who had the courage to leave the known for the unknown and venture into a new land. This energy powered the evolution of that courage into new communities, schools, shops, and new personal leaders who have emerged for years helping America forge its self-identity. This energy is reflected in the musical piece Vignettes: Stories from Ellis Island, originally written by Alan Smith, pianist and composer at the University of California and Chair of the vocal accompaniment staff at Tanglewood. With a grant from the NEA Smith has set some thirty short oral histories of those who emigrated from Europe to America from 1895 to roughly 1930. These touching histories, about one hour in performance, tell the stories of young and old alike, male and female – of what it was like for them to leave home and loved ones, board ship and sail for the promise of America. Originally conceived for solo voice and piano, I have gained to Mr. Smith’s enthusiastic support for arranging Vignettes for instrumental chamber ensemble, multiple voices to represent the different characters, and some choruses to sing those portions which unify the experiences. This new version would be arranged by UNH Professor and composer Michael Annicchiarico and presented as part of the Opera Program here at UNH. The potential for the University concerning the Humanities would be immense and fully in the interdisciplinary spirit of the Discovery program.
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David Ripley
Music Department

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Overpowered: American Domination, Democracy and the Ethics of Energy Consumption

The United States has used its overwhelming political and economic power to secure for itself a disproportionate share of the world’s non-renewable energy resources, most of which are located outside of our borders. We therefore produce a disproportionate amount of pollution, some of which affects people and ecosystems outside of our own borders. Is this a bad thing? Would it be better if control over these resources were distributed more equally? Is there an ideal distribution of these resources beyond what current world markets will produce? This disparity in the distribution of the world’s energy resources raises serious issues of social justice, as many argue that no group of people is more or less entitled to raw materials or naturally occurring energy. At the same time, the means by which we have come by those resources raises further issues of justice. Even if some inequality is justified, are the means by which we have come by our unequal share legitimate? Are Americans not only energy gluttons but exploitative as well? Finally, beyond the issues of international procedural fairness and equitable distribution is the issue of democracy. Is our policy of energy consumption and production the outcome of a truly democratic process? Do fully informed Americans genuinely want the policies shaped by our government? If our energy policies are unwise, is that because America is undemocratic, or because it is too democratic? I will argue that our energy policy is (1) externally unjust (with respect other nations, peoples, and future generations), (2) exploitative, and (3) internally democratic! The solution lies not in personal habits of conservation but in political and economic regulations that make our policies the logical outcome of our particular situation of social choice.
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Ruth Sample
Department of Philosophy

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Our Energy (In)Security

Energy issues have long been at the heart of human security concerns. At one level, we humans have always needed food energy and heat energy to survive and thrive. Yet, with the industrial revolution and our discoveries of the tremendous utility of fossils fuels like coal and oil, the security concerns related to human energy demands have expanded dramatically as our demand for energy accelerated rapidly. My proposed Discovery Dialogue essay begins by noting the eternal human need for energy supplies of various kinds. It then focuses attention on the contemporary links between energy and security at three levels of political scale: global, national and local.

At the global level, two challenges face citizens and policymakers around the globe: 1) growing scarcities of important fossil fuels in the face of growing global demand and 2) the accelerating threat of global climate change (global warming) induced by human activity. At the national level, citizens and our national policymakers also face these global challenges. Yet, we do so in a context of growing national dependence on foreign sources of energy and growing domestic and international demands that U.S. officials and citizens begin to seriously address our contributions to global climate change (and the impacts it is likely to have across the county and around the globe). Finally, at the local level, national and global security is connected to the ways we live, the things we buy, and the policy choices we make. At each level (global, national and local) citizens and public officials faces a host of choices about the kind of world, country and communities in which we want to live – and about our priorities. These many choices, while not easy, illustrate the central importance of energy concerns to our personal sense of security – and that of our local, national and global communities.
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Stacy D. VanDeveer
Department of Political Science

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Energy – The Not-So Bottomless Oil Well and the Alternatives

In 1859, Colonel Edwin Drake struck oil in Pennsylvania by drilling. This led to the world’s first oil boom, and oil soon flooded the world market. Many people believed that a global “Hubbert’s peak”—the maximum recoverable oil supply—would be reached in 2000. However, estimates on the ultimate recoverable resource have been increasing, due to a combination of economics and innovation. The average oil recovery rate from oil reservoirs has increased from 20 percent to 35 percent, and the prediction of a global Hubbert’s peak has not yet materialized.

This essay examines both sides of the “Hubbert’s peak” debate and their implications for energy policy. If there is a strong case for governments to wean their economies of oil, how do they do it? What low-carbon or alternative technologies bear watching? How will these technologies affect the environment? How long will the world remain reliant on oil considering that industries are 98% dependent on petroleum products? 
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PT Vasudevan
Chemical Engineering

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Climate in the Balance

Energy is life. Energy, harnessed primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, lights our cities, heats our homes, fuels our transportation, and powers our iPods. However, it is the sun’s energy that sustains life on Earth and drives our climate system.

This essay explores how our climate system works, how human’s are changing the climate system, and how we might face the challenges of reducing our negative impact on the climate system in the future.

Our climate system reflects the Earth’s attempt to attain equilibrium by transferring surplus solar energy from the equator to the poles. But the sun is not the only player. Greenhouse gases also play a key role in our climate system. These gases serve to trap heat at the surface of the Earth, much the same way a blanket serves to keep you warm on those cold New Hampshire nights. Without greenhouse gases, the Earth would likely be a large snowball with average temperatures hovering around zero. Here is the paradox: the energy that lights our dark nights, keeps us warm, and powers our cars, also produces lots of greenhouse gases. And these gases are altering the Earths energy balance and, as a result, changing our climate. Global climate change will affect human health, ecosystem health, and our quality of life in profound ways over the next century. How our society deals with these and a host of other issues related to a changing and unpredictable climate will be a defining characteristic of the 21st century.
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Cameron P. Wake
Climate Change Research Center
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space
Department of Earth Sciences

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