Posted by: COSI | April 5, 2010

Gas at $20/Gallon!

AEP Electric Car

AEP Electric Car

Did the title of this blog get your attention?  It did mine.

Actually $20 Per Gallon is the title of a book by Christopher Steiner, a former civil engineer who now works as a staff writer for Forbes magazine—giving him an interesting blended background and some credibility (as an engineering trained researcher/writer) to tackle the title topic.

At COSI we are moving forward with identifying how we can best provide effective ways for the public to engage in basic phenomena as well as “real and relevant science” related to our Energy & Environment area of focus.  Energy and environment were identified in our strategic planning process as the topic area the public most expected us to help them understand—something validated and consistent with national and international surveys of science center audiences.

Our internal group working on this, some of us with experiences from back in the 70’s with energy and environmental education efforts, are convinced that “gloom and doom” is not the way to go.  Hard to make the science and research “fun and engaging” with that type of overarching pall.  Steiner actually presents a plausible and overall positive potential set of scenarios if the right actions are taking driven by the changing economics around energy.

So it was with interest that I’ve just read the Steiner book which is constructed around a chapter by chapter conjecture (researched) at various gasoline price points (a $2/gallon march from $4 per gallon to the $20 per gallon mark).  His analysis and scenarios offer an interesting blend of societal shifts (and pain for some) with a positive outlook on some of the ramifications possible for our health, life styles, and societal reconstruction.

As I have been an off and on student of the topic for almost 35 years (including research for the hundreds of newspaper articles I wrote as a syndicated columnist on energy conservation/science features and a number of book chapters among other teaching and writing activities), I’m intrigued by his investigation and subsequent writing.  We all saw a certain tipping point of behavior when gasoline hit $4 per gallon before the economy collapse temporarily halted the inevitable rise of oil prices.

So what do you think will be the impact of steadily rising oil and gasoline prices?

How should COSI help people make sense of a world that is changing in its approach to energy sources and environmental improvements?

Watch for more energy and environmentally related activities and experiences to come at COSI, starting this summer.


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