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TJ Chambers

EGEE 101 H
1 May 2014
Final Essay

Shaping the Future
Coming into this course, I would like to believe that I had already progressed a lot during my
three years at Penn State from the naive, gullible younger self I once was when it came to energy and
climate change. Growing up, my parents were stout conservatives and consequently, so was I. Al Gore,
the symbolic leader of environmentalism, was a Democrat (the enemy!) and therefore he must be spewing
lies. I went from believing he was just out to gain political empowerment and influence to agreeing the
climate is indeed changing as a result of increased CO2 levels, but only because of a natural occurring
phenomenon. Werent there several Ice Ages after all? Even coming into college, these were still my
beliefs.
My freshman year English class began to change everything for me, though. One of our required
texts was The Climate War by Eric Pooley. The other was Barack Obamas Audacity of Hope. For the
first time, I took it upon myself to really research these topics and understand what both sides were
claiming. Eric Pooley takes the reader behind the scenes of global warming and how the fight to bring
about awareness and genuine change is plagued by economics and politics. Reading this really opened
my eyes to how so many intelligent, well-meaning individuals like myself were being fed faulty
information by both sides. Being forced to read Public Enemy #1s book on the American dream made
me realize that liberals are people, too, and I cant invalidate everything they say simply because we have
varying ideologies.
From that point on, I made a commitment to seek out the facts and decide for myself what is true
and what is fiction. My English course focused more on the style of writing rather than the subject matter
itself, so I searched for other available courses in which I could further expand my knowledge in an
unbiased environment. EGEE 101 H has become one of my favorite and most informative classes I have
taken throughout my four years at Penn State. Entering the semester I had come to the conclusion that the
global climate change threat is very real and we, mankind, are the sole reason behind this.
Throughout my architecture studios and accompanying classes, the importance of sustainable
design strategies had been stressed. In my initial essay, I remarked that as an aspiring architect, I have a
certain responsibility to society. We are the designers of tomorrow and the decisions we make truly
impact the world. My intentions for taking EGEE 101 H were to gain a better understanding of energy,
what it is, how it is produced, what sources are available to us, what advancements have been made
recently, and where are we heading so that I could make informed decisions to impact the world
positively. I needed to find out for myself whether these praised sustainable practices were everything
they were made out to be or if they were rather just glorified manifestations of the LEED movement that I
saw as more prestige oriented than environmentally focused.
At the end of the semester, I can look back on how far we have come as a class and say that the
concepts we read about, discussed, and debated have made a large impact on my outlook. As I said in my
earlier paper, energy is everything. This single commodity, no matter what form it is in, is what drives the
world. Economics, politics, international relationships, warthey all revolve around the production,
acquirement, and distribution of energy. With that being said, we are facing some real problems that need
to be addressed soon. Oil is not unlimited and a carbon based system will not leave the world in a very
nice place in the near future. Renewable energies like solar, wind, and hydroelectric provide viable
solutions, especially when utilized in conjunction with one another. However, they require a large upfront
investment that for political and economical reasons is holding it back. What I have come to realize is
that we cannot put our faith in the leaders of society, the fancy-suit-wearing businessmen, the perfectly-
combed-hair politicians, and the financially driven oil companies to make this required change.
As we have learned, the Commons are an essential component to civilization. What one person
does, multiplied by billions of people, has a huge effect. Well, why dont we take that mentality but put a
positive twist on it? If I do everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint and become less dependent on
environmentally damaging fuels, and if millions if not billions of other people follow suit, will we not be
saving the commons from destruction? Change starts at the local level, and that means as an individual
who will quite literally shape the future of the world, I need to start practicing what I learned in this class.