Discover what our energy past tells us about our energy future.Renowned energy pundit Peter Tertzakian weaves tales from our energy past with his own research and expertise to help you understand our current energy landscape and plan for the future. Full of insight, humour and thought-provoking wisdom, these stories are essential listening for anybody interested in what powers our world — because the business of energy is everybody's business.The quintessential energyphile, Peter Tertzakian has devoted his career to energy. He is the Executive Director of ARC Energy Research Institute and the creator of Energyphile, an innovative project that offers a whole new way to think about energy. To find out more, visit energyphile.org.
This is a cautionary tale about arrogance in the energy business. When a 1914 dictionary dropped coal from its definition of “fuel,” the Standard Oil Bulletin gloated that coal was an “also-ran.” But cheap energy is tough to displace, and hubris is ill-advised. Over a century later, coal still reigns in the energy mix of most countries. Never count out the "also-rans."To see the dictionary and the Standard Oil Bulletin in this story, visit energyphile.org/hubris.
The Investor Visit
Mar 06 2020 • 17 min
A 1915 photograph of individuals visiting a drilling rig gets energy economist Peter Tertzakian wondering who they are and what brought them there. The result is this story of Graeme, a savvy investor visiting his oil investment, a rig that he quickly discerns is on its way to obsolescence. Impervious to the gushing promises of a fast-talking broker and slick oil company CEO, Graeme imparts investment wisdom and business lessons that still stand the test of time.To see the photograph and other art for the story, visit energyphile.org/investorvisit.
The Great Aha
Mar 06 2020 • 14 min
In 1914, Ed Tucker, a once-staunch stagecoach driver, sees the light and buys a Ford Model T, never to look back. This story shows how swift adoption of a revolutionary new innovation happens when the benefits of that new technology are compellingly evident — and meet human needs head-on. It’s why electric vehicles haven’t taken over the world as swiftly as people thought they would — they simply aren’t the no-brainer the Model T was.To see the art in the story, visit energyphile.org/aha.
Mar 05 2020 • 11 min
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk. All titans of innovation. But also masters of showcasing their innovations. You may not have heard of Max Valier, but he too is an example of the bravado, vision and wild ideas required to alter the course of history. While everybody else was talking combustion engines in the early 20th century, Max was working with rockets. This early pioneer of rocket-powered travel — whose demonstrations in the 1930s brought people in droves to the racetrack — inspired the next generation of scientists and engineers.To see the art in this story, visit energyphile.org/rocket.
When Stoke Stokes
Mar 05 2020 • 14 min
In 1947 England, George sends his daughter a postcard featuring smoke-belching factories. “It isn’t quite as bad as this,” he assured her. Why was such an image glorified? Who on earth would put it on a postcard in the first place? The answer lies in our changing definition of prosperity. In post–World War II England, such an environmentally egregious sight signified industrial fortitude. Now of course, our values have changed and, with them, our visual indicators of prosperity.To see this postcard and other similar industrial-themed postcards, visit energyphile.org/stoke.
Stairway to Hell
Mar 05 2020 • 22 min
This story is about corporate failure in the extreme. A cautionary tale of a once-bustling coal mining hub turned ghost town, Stairway to Hell examines the perils of relying on hope as a strategy in the face of competitive assault. Its lessons are as true now as they were then — and the repercussions as dire. To see the art in the story, visit energyphile.org/stairway.
Nobody Tips a Scandiscope
Mar 05 2020 • 22 min
On a chilly January morning in 1857, 7-year-old Henry Haworth contemplates the chimneys he must clean that day. As he meets his fate in one of them, energy economist Peter Tertzakian examines the history, ethics and economics of these “climbing boys.” The technology to replace them was available. Legislation against their use was in place. So why did the horrific practice of sending children up chimneys persist for so long? The answer is more complex than you think.To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/scandiscope.
Long Way Around
Mar 05 2020 • 14 min
During the Arab Oil Embargo, Canada had to use foreign tankers to transport its oil. This is the story of the MS Kimon, a Greek-flagged tanker commissioned to make a circuitous journey from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of the United States, where its cargo was loaded onto a pipeline to make its way back into Canada. Decades later, Canada still lacks self-sufficiency in its energy infrastructure. In balancing cost, environment, economy and energy security, the last is rarely a priority … until it’s too late.To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/longway.
Alfred Dickie's Utility Bill
Mar 05 2020 • 17 min
The 1915 utility bill of a lumber magnate gets energy economist Peter Tertzakian thinking about our relationship with our energy sources and the shared responsibility of consumers and producers. That unassuming piece of paper marks an important turning point in our energy history: the point at which we lost touch with where and how we get our energy — and sheds light on why people today are so distrustful of companies that supply our fuels.To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/alfred.
Once Upon a Time
Mar 05 2020 • 14 min
In a 1924 children's book, a poem called "The Whale" takes jabs at energy and environmental issues. It's one of several children's stories — including Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Caboose Who Got Loose and The Lorax — dealing with energy and environmental issues in a child-focused way. These stories might seem to be just about a whale, a steam engine or a caboose, but they’re actually helping to shape the next generation’s energy beliefs.To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/onceupon.