Nitty Gritty: Cityscapes & Energy Viewpoints

Anne Marie Schultz: Cityscapes, opens at the Art Association’s Artspace Main & Loft galleries Friday, October 7, 2011. An opening reception begins at 5:30 pm that evening.

Schultz’s Cibachrome prints document the city of Chicago’s myriad venues as they are at the turn of this century. As the changes that inevitably affect cities took place, Chicago’s citizens experienced the city’s demolition of racially segregated public housing, structures built in the 1930’s. Now, Millenium Park is a major Chicago landmark and liberated, diverse celebrations such as the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade are the norm. Schultz utilizes double exposures, solarization of old film and a Holga camera to create a provocative collection of enigmatic, moody cityscapes. Urban life is represented as a slice of fleeting cosmic time and space.

Two really good—and by “good” I mean expansive and, to my mind, balanced—articles on sustainable energy recently appeared in print. The first relates to global energy use; the second talks about the layers of possibilities and limitations surrounding Wyoming’s wind energy initiatives.

Article #1 is Fareed Zakaria’s review of Daniel Yergin’s new book, “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.” The review appeared in the New York Times Sunday Book Review section. Zakaria opens with a mention of Bill Gates’ TED Conference remarks on energy. At that conference Gates stated that if he had one wish that would improve the world’s prospects in the next 50 years, he’d wish for an “ ‘energy miracle’”: a new technology that produced energy at half the price of coal with no carbon dioxide emissions.” Yergin’s book, 804 pages, covers the history of oil beginning at the Persian War, going forward to today. The review is fabulous.

Zakaria sums up the book’s purpose. “This book is really trying to answer a question: What will the future of energy look like over the next 50 years?” Zakaria says. “In addressing that issue, Yergin takes on a myriad of other topical questions: Are we running out of oil? Is natural gas the answer? What about shale gas? Is global warming a real danger? Is solar power the answer? He addresses each one of these in a chapter or series of chapters that mix recent history and fair-minded analysis.”

A core assertion is that the United States should spend much more money on energy research, and much less on existing technologies. Al Gore is politely admonished for advancing the view that current technologies are close to pulling us out of the hole.

They are not, Yergin says. Zakaria sums up: “The reason Bill Gates wishes for a technology that creates energy at half the price of coal with no carbon dioxide emissions is that he wants a technology so compelling that it is adopted by poor countries as well as rich ones. Coal is plentiful worldwide, and unless the new technology is much cheaper, China and India will never adopt it. And if these two countries — which together are building four coal-fired power plants a week — don’t get off coal, nothing that happens in the West matters, since the levels of carbon dioxide they will pump into the atmosphere will be well above the danger mark. Half the price of coal and no carbon: That’s a tall order, which is why Gates is looking for a miracle. But what he means is a technological miracle of the kind that happens from time to time. The steam engine, the automobile, the computer, the Internet are all miracles. We need something on that order in energy — and fast.”

A few days after reading this review I had a really nice dream about Bill Gates!

To read Zakaria’s full review, click here. I’ll tell you about article #2 in my next post.


Leave a Reply