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By Robert Rapier on Nov 23, 2007 with no responses

Welcome Guardian Readers


About a month ago, I was contacted by The Guardian, one of the major newspapers in the U.K. They were launching the Guardian Commercial Partners Network. While there is potentially some ad revenue involved, that wasn’t what interested me. I have never really tried to capture much ad revenue, even though I make a few dollars a month between the Google and Amazon ads. But the reason I started this blog was to make a contribution to energy and sustainability discussions. This is what The Guardian offered:

Exposure – we will promote your website from the Guardian Unlimited homepage, which attracts over 22 million page impressions a month, to send our readers your way.

The more viewers I can reach, the better. I want to influence the way people think about energy. I want to encourage government leaders to support more sustainable options, as our current situation is not remotely sustainable.

Yesterday evening, I noticed traffic coming from The Guardian, so it looks like the program has kicked off. Down on the bottom right of their front page is a rotating blogroll. Because there is no explanation at all for what the link actually is (it just says R-Squared), I thought I should take this opportunity to introduce the blog to readers coming in from the Guardian.

What I Want

You can see my mission statement over on the right sidebar. But I will elaborate. While I am by no means an extremist, I am gravely concerned that we are approaching an energy crisis. I think we are sleep-walking into this situation, because 1). Our political leaders are by and large monumentally ignorant about energy issues; 2). Ditto for the general public; 3). Because of this combination, we don’t adopt the policies that we really need. Therefore, I want to provide a small nudge in that direction.

What do I mean by sustainability? By that, I mean that I don’t want to see us depleting resources and harming the environment in such a way to put future generations at a severe disadvantage. I believe that this is exactly what our current policies are doing. And again, I believe that this is happening because people are misinformed on the potential consequences, and therefore unwilling to make major sacrifices.

Um, Don’t You Work for an Oil Company?

Yes, for the past 6 years I have worked for an oil company. And I think oil companies in general have done a poor job of communicating that we have a problem. For the most part, I think oil companies (but by no means only oil companies) have simply denied that there is a problem. This OP-ED by ExxonMobil is a prime example. I think oil companies have also been very slow to develop next-generation energy solutions. However, not only do the energy policies we have in place often fail to encourage oil companies to move forward, at times they have actually discouraged it.

I also recognize that even though oil companies are widely-hated, we have a society that is entirely dependent on oil. So, while the long-term goal is to move away from unsustainable options like oil, right now we need it during that transition. So, I am helping out with that need, while actively working to eliminate it. Some of the things that I am doing along that front are known, and some will be known within 6 months. One of the things that I have done extensively is to nudge various technologies along with technical input and advice. More on that will come to light in 2008.

My Writing

My writing tends to fall into several categories. The first – and the one the moves me the most – is to debunk misinformation. Sometimes this involves claims that the U.S. can be energy independent by following Brazil’s example. Sometimes I address the uber-optimism of various solutions to our problems. (I see this as very dangerous, as they lull everyone into complacency that everything will be OK. People are led to believe that we just need to give the entrepreneurs more time and money). Sometimes I write to defend the oil industry against various pieces of misinformation. I just feel like we are hated enough without having to put up with false claims, and nobody enjoys being hated.

Other times, I write about conservation, increasing the gas tax, or even things like composting. I have written quite a bit about Peak Oil, and I coined the phrase “Peak Lite” to explain what I think we are actually going to experience – and are currently experiencing. (I also coined the term “XTL”, which I see popping up on a regular basis, to generically categorize GTL, CTL, and BTL).

Yeah, But What Do You Drive?

I was asked this question last week. I was preaching the need to conserve, and someone asked “What kind of car do you drive?” Of course if the answer is a gas-guzzler, my message rings pretty hollow. I would be telling YOU to conserve, but unwilling to make that sacrifice myself. But I despise hypocrisy, so I try hard to walk the talk. This is an issue that I have with Al Gore. While he has served to raise public awareness on very important issues, he has also exposed himself as someone who doesn’t need to make those sacrifices himself. (Ironically, George Bush – who I am no fan of – is the one with an eco-friendly home). Oh, and I drive a Nissan Micra.


So, that’s my blog in a nutshell. Feel free to jump into the conversation. No level of technical knowledge or expertise is expected. After all, that’s what I am trying to do here: increase knowledge and encourage discussion on energy and sustainability issues. All viewpoints are welcome, and no posts are deleted unless 1). It is an ad; 2). It is a personal attack; 3). It attempts to identify my employer. I have an agreement with my employer with respect to my blog. They don’t have a problem with it, as long as I am not doing it from work and I am not overtly discussing who I work for. They don’t want an impression that they endorse my positions. (Some they would, some they wouldn’t). So, while it is not a secret who I work for, I will delete comments that specifically name my employer.

Oh, and thanks for stopping by.