As the calendar turns to September I am struck by the similarity between the agricultural significance of this time of year and the careers for all “50-somethings,” which would include the largest single age group of AAPG members.
September for those in the Northern Hemisphere (or in Rio Linda) is harvest time; you finally get to reap what you have sown and nurtured during the spring and summer. So for 50-somethings, at this stage of our careers we have geologists younger than us -- and if we still have bosses, they actually depend on us. We initiate projects and manage people. Our decisions influence others in our companies.
In agriculture, harvest is no time to rest but rather a time to maximize opportunities. Similarly, now is the time in both my profession as a petroleum geologist and as president of AAPG that all these years of preparation can really bear fruit.
All you 50-somethings thinking about early retirement, come join us in active service to your profession.
Your Executive Committee has some ambitious goals for this year, and fall is the time for the busy meeting schedule.
First, we will attend the Gulf Coast Section meeting in Lafayette, La., Sept. 25-27, followed by the Eastern Section meeting in Buffalo, N.Y. Oct. 8-11.
Our last meeting of the calendar year will be the AAPG International Conference and Exhibition in Perth, Australia, Nov. 5-8.
In the past several months much media coverage has been dedicated to human influence on global climate. I am not an expert in climate change, although I have read enough on the topic to consider myself “informed.” The AAPG Members’ Only section of the association’s Web site offers numerous opinions on global climate change within the debate on a proposed climate change card. Global media coverage and political discourse are focused on a link between CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and global climate change. The resulting debate eventually settles into two main questions:
How much influence do CO2 emissions have on global climate?
If your answer is “little or none,” no need to answer question number two. But if you fall somewhere between “Inconvenient Truth” and “I am not sure,” then the next question is:
How much are we willing to pay for reduced CO2 emissions?
Answering this with a global consensus will be difficult, but no one wants to leave a perceived mess for future generations. Most global climate models predict conditions to about the year 2100, but even models using reduced CO2 emissions are not sure what the effect on climate will be by then.
Fortunately, some CO2 reduction strategies, such as conservation, higher fuel mileage standards for U.S. vehicles, fuel switching and some CO2 capture techniques do not require large costs. Others, such as increased taxes and subsidies for alternative energy sources, would have direct economic cost.
As recent global demand for fossil fuels has outstripped global deliverability, prices have risen. Even though fossil fuels are still the most abundant and cost efficient forms of energy (I am omitting nuclear), alternative fuels (whatever they might be) are becoming more cost competitive.
According to Edwards’ 2006 graph, fossil fuels should plateau in about 2050 at about 70 percent of global energy supplies, and decline by 2100 to about 30 percent. Alternative energy must comprise about 60 percent by 2100.
The point is that fossil fuel use will decline due to purely economic considerations -- or the public may choose to shorten the fossil fuel energy cycle by raising taxes.
I did not really intend to get in the middle of the climate change debate, but my fear is that students will wrongly view geology as a profession that contributes to global warming. Thus, they will avoid studying geology in general and petroleum geology in particular.
To students and faculty: Geologists are vital catalysts to providing global energy supplies, and if projections on the enclosed chart are correct they will be needed well into the next century.
And beyond fuel use, in the United States about one-third of oil and natural gas is used for non-fuel purposes. Humans have found hydrocarbons to be extremely useful molecules, and they are all-natural, certified organic and biodegradable.
AAPG has a mission to inform students and their faculty about the need for geologists, especially petroleum geologists. Our variety of student-focused committees and programs attempt to accomplish this goal. The committees include:
- Academic Liaison.
- Student Chapters.
- Student Expo.
- Visiting Geologist Program.
To our academic members, I sincerely appreciate your dedication and service. We need more of you involved in AAPG. Global citizens are depending on you to train and influence our next generation of energy suppliers, and we need you to be active in the best worldwide organization for petroleum geologists. Your constituency has done well in Association elections, because this year’s Executive Committee has two faculty members: Ernest Mancini (editor), of the University of Alabama, and Randi Martinson (treasurer), of the University of Wyoming.
Please recruit more faculty members.
Even though I wrote about harvesting in the fall, it is not too late for all members to sow some seeds by asking geologists to become AAPG members. Your esteemed Executive Committee has committed to recruiting 10 new members each and a total of 100.
By this writing our new online application process should be ready. I got a head start by recruiting my niece at San Diego State. Welcome, Angela.
‘Til next month ...