From Downton Abbey to Fracking

February 20th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

For those who relished the final installment of Downton Abbey Sunday night, here’s a way to extend the pleasure a bit while still doing your homework on today’s energy questions: Read “What Downton Abbey Can Teach Us About the Future of Energy.”

The story appears in StateImpact, a Web site out of Texas that draws upon local and National Public Radio stories and its own reporters to cover energy and public policy.

Quoting liberally the “Dowager Countess” (portrayed by Maggie Smith) as she and others in turn-of-the-last-century England adjust to the newness of electrical power, telephones and automobiles, the Downton Abbey piece posits that we in the 21st century are similarly in a time of change.

Quoting academics like the University of Texas’ Roger Duncan, for example, the story says:

“Right now we’re in an energy transition from a fossil fuel based economy to a renewable economy,” Duncan says. “These kinds of transitions take decades, if not centuries to occur.” He points to the fact that even though fossil fuels were much better than wood, it still took a century for them to become dominant.

“And the same thing is going to happen with renewables,” he says. “We’re still going to be depending on fossil fuels whether we like it or not, or whether it’s best or not, for decades into the future.”

Importantly, what the story points out is that the innovation of electricity was afforded in the early 1900s only to those who could afford it – the wealthy who put noisy, smelly generators in their basements – and the grid system we know and use today came later. It’s a parallel of sorts to the solar panels topping roofs and the garage-based hydrogen fuel cell that holds promise for the future.

A link to the StateImpact piece came courtesy of my daily email from the Texas Tribune, upon which I’ve come to rely in order to get as well-rounded-as-one-can-get-these-days dose of news – adding it to my daily perusal of the Albuquerque Journal; Heath Haussamen’s nmpolitics.net; The New York Times; and now, the state’s newest online “paper,” the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Yes, the Tribune covers Texas, but New Mexico shares many of the challenges that affect our eastern neighbor, including those related to drought, ranching and the oil and gas industry.

With regard to oil and gas, the Tribune provides (as mentioned before) more frequent and in-depth coverage than New Mexico’s leading daily.

StateImpact is proving to be another good source on the subject, with coverage of Texas’ latest academic reports on fracking and water contamination, fracking and earthquakes, and how fracking, drilling, and earthquakes are linked.

It’s news New Mexicans can use, which ideally is the point of good, journalistic media.

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  • Jim Baca

    Alas, the Albuquerque Journal is in bed with the oil boys. No getting around it.

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