In response to Sunday’s article about Penn State’s energy conservation efforts, readers interested in much more information about university energy use and strategic energy planning can check out the document collection at Steady State College.
Concerned citizens have regularly updated Centre Daily Times staff, Penn State staff and trustees and borough staff and elected officials about these complex issues since the Columbia Gas pipeline controversy hit the community in March 2013, with minimal public response.
Actuary Gail Tverberg, of Our Finite World, predicts that the world will be working with roughly 40 percent of 2010 baseline fossil fuel supplies by 2030 — not due to legislation limiting carbon emissions to mitigate climate change or to fossil fuels “running out” in an absolute sense, but because a perpetual growth-driven economy requires cheap fuel to grow, and fracking isn’t cheap.
Geoscientist David Hughes, of the Post-Carbon Institute, has analyzed well decline rates across the so-called shale revolution and supports Tverberg’s conclusion: As early as 2020, oil and gas that will still be technically recoverable will not be economically recoverable.
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Within that data-based conceptual framework, Penn State must not only reduce energy use per square foot or per person through conservation, but also cut student enrollment, faculty and staff and the number and size of buildings in use.
Rob Cooper and other Office of Physical Plant planners aren’t yet prepared to acknowledge a predicament of this scope, much less deal with it in a mature, thoughtful way.