Imagine waking up tomorrow in a world that doesn’t depend on oil. Explore further Provided by University of Alberta That might seem far-fetched, but as engineers and scientists come up with new ways to harness renewable energy, those new sources of energy may soon shape the way our societies function and how we live our daily lives.”We’re going to stop depending on oil long before we run out of it, so we really need to exercise our imaginations about what other futures are possible,” explains University of Alberta associate professor Sheena Wilson, who heads the Future Energy Systems energy humanities theme.”Right now we live in sprawling urban communities with long commutes—we drive everywhere. If we don’t have access to such powerful energy sources, and our lives aren’t organized around auto-mobility, the shape of our cities looks very different. We need to think about communities we’re shaping through the energy systems we’re designing.”Decentralization of energy through the development of wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal could mean that communities no longer need to be centralized. Societal power structures defined by those who presently control energy and wealth could also fundamentally change.If someone living in a remote location unconnected from the grid could have the same reliable energy as someone living in an urban centre, would people need to live together in cities at all? Possibly, but maybe for entirely different reasons.”Our communities might need to be organized in entirely new ways—around social and environmental sustainability, instead of around the easy flow of traffic and consumer goods,” said Wilson.”We can ask ourselves all sorts of questions about why we live the way we live—and if changing the way we access energy will change everything,” she added.Fuel for thoughtThe U of A cultural studies and media expert based in Campus Saint-Jean has been exploring the social aspect of the energy future for years. In 2011 she co-founded the Petrocultures Research Group to explore humanity’s next step after the oil-dominated economy. The group has generated a number of interdisciplinary projects and expanded its membership internationally. One of its research initiatives, After Oil: Explorations and Experiments in the Future of Energy, Culture and Society, explores “the social and cultural implications of oil and energy.” Sheena Wilson, principal investigator with the energy humanities theme of the U of A’s Future Energy Systems initiative, interviews engineering professor Marc Secanell, director of the Energy Systems Design Laboratory. “We’re not just hearing about the next big thing in energy third-hand—we get the chance to talk directly to Canada’s leading energy researchers,” Wilson says. Credit: Kenneth Tam Alaskan microgrids offer energy resilience and independence When the Future Energy Systems research initiative launched at the end of 2016, Wilson was asked to develop the energy humanities theme, which has brought a group of interdisciplinary humanities scholars into the program to work closely with scientists, engineers and social scientists.This approach is unique, and when the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference came to Edmonton earlier this month, Wilson and her group were invited to make a mainstage presentation about the energy humanities’ program and how it is now imagining possible futures based on the latest energy research.”We’re not just hearing about the next big thing in energy third-hand—we get the chance to talk directly to Canada’s leading energy researchers, see what’s too new to have hit the headlines and provide input to IPCC reports and recommendations that will influence policy at all levels of government,” said Wilson.Envisioning alternative energy futuresEnergy humanities researchers across the arts faculty—including art and design, English and film studies, sociology, political science and history—are working with scientists, government, artists, activists and Indigenous communities to foster inclusive dialogue.”We’re trying to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to inform the thinking we’re all doing as we work toward other possible futures,” said Wilson.The fine arts will also play a role in imagining those futures. A seven-year Future Energy Systems project called Speculative Energy Futures—collaboratively led with art and design historian Natalie Loveless under a larger research initiative called Just Powers, for which Wilson is the research lead—will produce a large-scale, evidence-based exhibition and a series of publications to provide visual perspectives on the social and cultural impacts of energy transition.Another Just Powers visual project called iDoc has been capturing the work of Future Energy Systems on video. In addition to filming interviews and lab footage with U of A researchers, the project will include policy-makers and other players engaged with energy transition in Alberta more widely.This research will be archived for posterity by University of Alberta Libraries, and made available through open access in a range of formats on the web and in public screenings so it can inform public discussions about the possibilities and limits of energy transition and its politics.”Fifty years from now, people might be explaining to their grandkids what it was like to have their houses connected to a central power grid—or to ‘fill up’ their cars,” Wilson said. “We want them to understand why we made the decisions we did, and what we were thinking.” Citation: Understanding how society will change as we move to renewable energy sources (2018, March 30) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-society-renewable-energy-sources.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
There were 56 fewer reports of violent crimes last year. Aggravated assaults declined by 19.6 percent, from 224 in 2005 to 180 last year. There also were 10 fewer rapes in 2006 than in 2005. None of the rapes were of the type in which an assailant targets a victim at random, Rothans said. Of the 10 homicides in 2006, seven were believed to be gang-related, Rothans said. All occurred between January and August, before extra anti-gang patrols were in place. Overall, Part 1 crimes – violent crimes plus property crimes – fell 7 percent in `06 from a year earlier, he said. Council members last April approved an additional $600,000 for the local sheriff’s station, allowing Rothans to hire the new two-deputy team, along with a third deputy assigned to nuisance abatement. That deputy responds to graffiti, loud parties and other quality- of-life issues. PICO RIVERA – Violent crime decreased 22 percent in 2006 from a year earlier, with murders declining by 33 percent, from 15 in 2005 to 10 last year, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official said. “It’s the work of the team,” Capt. Michael Rothans, head of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station, told City Council members Tuesday night. He was referring to last year’s hiring of two additional deputies that serve in a new anti-gang unit. Officials said deputies assigned to gang enforcement units made about 300 arrests from May and December. “By them taking that many people to jail, violent crime fell,” Rothans said. The city’s public safety director, Steve Gutierrez, said, “it worked. … The City Council recognized that it was important to increase public safety and they brought in additional resources,” he said. Some of the money also was used to label deputies’ patrol cars with the city’s name. Mayor Pete Ramirez said that has helped residents feel like deputies are working for them. “We needed more pride in the community with the sheriffs,” he said. “You have to have the trust of the public, and now that has grown by leaps and bounds.” Crimes involving stolen or damaged property, including robberies, burglaries, vehicle burglaries, arsons and others, declined by 4.7 percent compared to 2005, Pico Rivera Station statistics show. The only category that rose in 2006 was auto thefts, which increased by just 1 percent. “We had five more cars stolen. … But when you talk about where are we now, I think we’re in a very good place,” Rothans said. Residents can take steps to protect themselves from auto thefts, which rose from 498 reports in 2005 to 503 in 2006, Rothans said. “People go outside in the morning and start their car, then return to their house to get something,” said Rothans. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!