I was very incensed by the Oil Embargo imposed by the Arabs in support of the 1973 Yom Kippur war against Israel. That is when I became dedicated to energy independence for the U.S., by any means (including renewables, conservation & nuclear).
- I am a scientist and engineer, and my beliefs are where the facts lead me.
- My PhD thesis was using highly excited mercury atoms to decompose…..carbon dioxide!
- My work at NASA (contracting with Brown & Root and Northrop) was
- Solar simulation in the large vacuum chambers, Bldg. 32
- Simulation of earth’s infrared radiation in full scale thermo-vacuum testing of the Apollo Telescope Mount (on the Apollo Service Module)
- Invention of and calibration of radiometers to measure actual and simulated solar radiation, and measurement of the spectra thereof.
- Heat transfer calculations for testing the shuttle insulating tiles.
- Use of infrared spectroscopy to measure contamination.
- I was the chief technical person for Northrop’s two proposals to operate Dept. of Energy (DOE) solar energy facilities.
- The first proposal was rejected because I proposed using microcomputers to gather data at each facility, to be monitored and controlled by a minicomputer. DOE said a minicomputer was required at each site monitored by a mainframe computer!
- The second proposal, to operate DOE’s Solar Energy Research Institute in Denver was technically No. 1 but we were underbid by Lockheed.
MY TIES TO THE OIL INDUSTRY!
- In 1976, as part of a fabrication company, where I also designed and built a successful solar heat pipe based domestic hot water heating system.
- In 1980, after the U.S. was greatly improving its oil production, OPEC turned on the spigots and created a huge crude oil supply that drove the price of oil down to $10/bbl, causing an economic disaster among oil related businesses in the U.S., including the fabricating company I was working (on the side) with.
- To protect against this happening again I became a proponent of establishing a floor price for oil, at a high enough price to avoid another business disaster. Columnist Steve Friedman proposed the same some time later.
- Nonetheless, a year or so ago OPEC did the same dumping of oil again, damaging the U.S. and Houston’s economy.
I became an analyst/engineer for the conservation of energy in buildings. Fossil fuel use can be reduced by 1.) development and economic use of alternate energy sources and 2.) increasing energy efficiency.
- While at Northrop, I was the chief engineering consultant to Tenneco for its nationwide program of performing energy conservation analysis (Technical Assistance) for schools. Technical assistance is the evaluation and recommendation of energy saving procedures and retrofits both technically and economically.
- In 1979 I became an independent consultant for building energy management, mainly schools but also colleges, hospitals, and municipal facilities.
- Major clients were the schools of many parishes in Southwest Louisiana, and many school districts in Texas.
- Conceived and developed a large energy conservation project, paid for by guaranteed savings (by contractors) for Houston I.S.D. This included the savings backed replacement of lighting and air conditioning systems.
Volunteer for 25×25, a nationwide program to bring the U.S. to at least 25% renewable energy by the year 2025.
- This was from 2004 to 2008, participating at my own expense
- Attending national 25×25 conferences (Washington DC and Omaha, NE)
- Attending monthly meetings of the Texas 25×25 organization
- My primary assignments were
- Assess the State of Texas for available and suitable land, county by county, for raising biofuels (particularly sorghum). Included screening by available virgin land acreage, rainfall, and soil type).
- Analyze proposed renewable fuel projects (nation wide).
- Prepare a Roadmap for Texas to achieve goals of 25×25. I was relieved of this assignment because I insisted that the renewable systems be developed to the point that no subsidies would be required.
I left 25×25 when fracking lowered the price of natural gas, the main fuel that renewables were to replace, to the extent that makes 25×25 goals unattainable. I went where the facts led me.
WHY I BECAME A CLIMATE CHANGE SKEPTIC (LUKE WARMER)
When the global warming scare became widely publicized, my original reaction was to doubt its seriousness because of my experience in absorption spectroscopy, heat transfer, and earth’s thermal radiation.
- Basically, the nature of absorption spectra (in this case infrared, gas phase) is to have a majority of the spectrum to be clear (non-absorbing) and
- when a colorant is added to a solution (e.g., adding CO2 to the atmosphere) Beer’s Law applies, which states that absorption of light by the colorant increases exponentially with concentration and absorption path length. This is about ironclad for liquids and solids, whose absorption spectra are mainly continuous.
- The exponentiality of Beer’s Law causes the effect of adding colorant to become nil (saturated), after a certain fraction of colorant is added.
- The Beer’s Law effect is not as exact for gases, which have thousands of very fine absorption lines, whose ability to absorb radiation (in this case, CO2 absorbing earth’s infrared radiation) varies to some extent with pressure and temperature. But the effect is closely, if not exactly, exponential.