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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Focus the Nation on clean energy

Friday, February 11, 2011

DePauw University Professor Tim Cope gives a presentation about the supply of oil and alternatives during a Focus the Nation seminar on Thursday. In the third year of Focus the Nation at the unviersity, the school has decided to focus on sustainability issues and a green economy. Events held on Monday and Tuesday also present new ideas for sustainable technology and trying to find a solution to the energy crisis.
GREENCASTLE -- This week DePauw University hosted their Focus The Nation event, a yearly event designed to focus dialogue, resources and knowledge about particular issues affecting the world. This year the theme was Green Jobs -- Green Economy, an idea very dear to Mayor Sue Murray and the Putnam RISE program developed this year.

Murray attended the seminars on Thursday along with Steve Setchell, director of Putnam RISE. The sustaibaility section of the event allowed visitors to get to know the Putnam RISE project, as well as let the community know about the benefits of the program.

Tom and Nancy Zennie, two organic certified farmers from Cloverdale, felt a strong connection to the sustainaibility issues presented in the event. As organic farmers, they are dedicated to using energy efficient materials and equipment in the home and on their farm, using biofuels in their truck and compact flourescent light fixtures in their barn. They credit the organic food for better taste and quality because of its lack of chemical treatments.

"One of the reasons organic produce almost always wins taste contests is because they grow different," Tom Zennie said, also describing that the crops become used to the soil and grow at a higher quality.

At the Putnam RISE event, Setchell explained several of the upcoming programs related to RISE. Putnam RISE is planning on performing home energy audits for those who apply, which would help a household determine where they are wasting or losing energy through old or poor appliances or fixtures or leaks in the house. They are also planning on a weatherization project for more low-income homes. Setchell said he would like to see the program work with about 20 homes, with one home getting a Green "Home Makeover" style workover.

"This is the perfect weather for that," Tom Zennie said.

Setchell said he believes, especially with the recent weather events, that proper weatherization can save a family money and keep them comfortable in extreme temperatures.

"People will have pretty hefty energy bills this month," Setchell said.

Putnam RISE will also begin a "Buy Local Bucks" program on April 1. When shoppers purchase an energy efficient product at a local business, they will receive "Buy Local Bucks" that they can use at another local business. The purpose is to not only encourage local business growth but to also encourage the purchase of energy efficient equipment.

Before the Putnam RISE forum, DePauw University Professor of geology Tim Cope gave a presentation regarding the supply of oil and different energy alternatives. As a geologist who as also worked for a small oil company in the past, the topic has always fascinated Cope.

"It's terrifying, but it's exciting too," Cope said.

Cope addressed the problem of running out of oil by saying that one person, M. King Hubbert, was able to accurately predict when the oil production in the U.S. would cease. Using a logistic distribution curve, Hubbard was able to predict in the 1950s that oil production would peak in 1970, and would later end entirely by roughly 2050.

A similar curve, also called a Hubbert curve, predicted the end of oil production in other areas of the world as well.

"You should be able to look at this and get a right estimate," Cope said.

However, Cope said there is hope with new forms of fuel. Though many are relatively inefficient to produce and possibly more harmful to the environment. Technoology has not gotten to the point where using other biofuel ingredients is efficient or feasible, but he hopes that it will in the near future, pointing to algae as a possible reliable option.

"We won't know what the energy future will look like until it happens," Cope said.

Events began on Wednesday with a presentation by Laurie Counsel, energy and environmental relations director of Cummins, Inc., at the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media.

Cummins, Inc. is the world's largest producer of diesel engines.

Counsel talked about how Cummins, Inc. would play a role in creating sustainable jobs in the future and creating energy efficient engines and technologies.

Three DePauw professors also gave a seminar about sustainability on Thursday. Kerry E. Pannell, dean of faculty and associate professor of economics and management; Raymonda "Ray" L. Burgman, associate professor of economics and management and special adviser to DePauw President Casey for strategic initiatives; and Michele T. Villinski, associate professor of economics and management were part of the "Envisioning a Green Economy" event, which discussed green taxes, green jobs and invenstment priorities.

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