From biofuels to mineral exploration, the Conference on Earth and Energy Research (CEER) brought together great minds and scientists, current and future, at Mines. The Graduation Student Association of CSM did a great job of displaying great research while empowering energy and earth scientists after hearing the keynote lectures.
U.S. Senator Ken Salazar opened up the conference by giving his keynote lecture titled, “Toward North American Energy Independence.” Salazar is former Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and started off by speaking of his experience of dealing with the Deep Water Horizon crisis in 2010. Salazar also reflected on a conversation with President Obama in which Salazar pointed out the turn that the U.S. has made in going towards energy independence: in 2005, the U.S. was importing 60% of its oil and was projected to be importing 40% by the year 2020. However, today the U.S. is only importing 40%. Salazar credited this turnaround to two things: policy and technology. Salazar acknowledged that policy should have a bigger role in funding technology and admonished the Mines campus to “keep on going.”
To close off the conference, Pieter Tans from the NOAA Earth System Research Lab in Boulder gave a talk about energy policy’s relation to man-made climate change. Tans is a distinguished climate scientist and used only simple physics and chemistry including mass and energy balance to show that climate change is anthropogenic. He explained the concept of climate forcing, saying, “It’s as if the sun has become 1.2% brighter.” Tans likened doing nothing as playing Russian Roulette, but with our children, and then put forth some things that we can do. These include ending subsidies, being more energy efficient, and conserving more energy, all which have to do with policy. Tans also did not agree with the IPCC’s method of communicating climate change, a form that relies heavily on models, which opens the door wider for skeptics. He instead proposed that climate change be communicated better to policymakers—with simple physics and chemistry.
Though the poster sessions and oral presentations had a technical flavor from a broad spectrum of research areas, the keynote speeches tied everything in with policy and the future. The two-day conference was a huge success, and anyone interested in earth and energy should look out for CEER to be even bigger and better next year.