In 46 B.C. (or B.C.E. take your pick) Gaius Julius Caesar helped to standardize a solar calendar for Rome. In this new Julian calendar, the New Year began on the first day in the month honoring the god Janus. Janus was a two headed god; he could look both into the past and the future.
At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, people around the United States celebrate the beginning of the New Year. As we look both back at the past and forward to the future, we tend to focus on those things that are important to us. If you’re reading this, then you probably agree with me that energy is an important subject.
|Explore energy past and future at the Wiess Energy Hall|
The last couple of years have been quite exciting as far as energy goes and this has helped to raise the energy issue to the forefront of public discourse. We have had gasoline prices rise to an unimaginable level only to drop back down. We saw an ecological disaster and the courageous and selfless responses to it. Now we ask ourselves, “What happens next?”
Predicting the future is always problematic.
2010 was the year we were supposed to make contact. Some of the 2011 predictions are also interesting. In 1931 W.J. Mayo predicted that medical science would increase life spans to 70 years. Now the average life span for a man in the United States is 77 years. I not only enjoy the increased life expectancy, but also the moving of my mid-life crisis to over a decade from now instead of being forced to have it in just a few years.
Robert Millikan predicted that by 2011 the scientific method would have solved all our social problems. While I have heard that repeated many times, including 2 months ago by a friend, it has not worked out so far.
“When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see; Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be…” is a great sentiment by Lord Tennyson, but looking into the future only works sometimes. More times than not, the future ends up being something much more incredible than we can imagine. How could anyone a hundred years ago have guessed at what the next century would hold? From landing men on the moon and having a permanent mission outside of earth’s atmosphere to smart phones and tablet computers, we have constantly surpassed our own imaginations This is especially true where energy is concerned.
Energy Predictions…and Resolutions
If you are like me (and you should be) then you have already taken a look at the energy predictions for 2011. You’ll notice that a lot of predictions are easy to make. Most are predicting a return of $100 a barrel oil. Since the price of oil usually goes up and we are at $90 a barrel of oil right now, I don’t think that is too far fetched. Others predict U.S. oil companies will look for more crude oil. Again most of the energy predictions you’ll see for 2011 are fairly consistent and easy predictions to make.
Now that we have the predictions out of the way, we can get on to the resolutions. The New Year is a big time for people to resolve to make life changing and affirming changes. Most people resolve to be healthier, stop an addicting habit, or learn something new. It is good to have an annual time of reflection.
The big question on January 2 is will we all keep our resolutions? It seems that around 65% of us kept up our New Year’s resolutions for some part of 2008. In this brave new world you can even download apps to help you (reason #42 why I’m glad I don’t own Apple products).
While most of us want to make ourselves better, I believe it is important to better the places we live. This means making better use of the resources we have. So what should we make as our New Year’s energy resolutions?
- We should drive less.
The price of gas keeps going up, so if we drive less then we will keep more of our money. You can do this by combining errands and eliminating unnecessary driving. When you go out to run errands, try to run as many as you can in the same drive. Also, instead of driving to the store to see if they have a specific item, call ahead to make sure they have it before you take that drive. Myself, I’m going to take the light rail more. I live right near a station, and my place of employment is right near another.
- We should use less electricity to light our homes.
Lighting accounts for 11% of the average household’s energy use. One way to save is to replace all your lights with cfls or led lights. What am I going to do? I am going to use more lamps instead of turning on the overhead lighting fixtures. My reading lamp uses one bulb and gives off enough light to do most things by, while my overhead fixture uses four bulbs. Also, I’m going to go make sure to turn my lights off when I’m away from home.
While those are not my only New Year’s resolutions (the big one starts with f and rhymes with other), these are the ways I’m going to change my energy usage for the better.
Happy New Year Ya’ll!
And just remember:
“Should old acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!
The new year brings us hope for peace. A new day for mankind. Where we can all live hand in hand And leave all hate behind.”