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President’s Column – May 2020

Dear LGS Members,

As it becomes clear that our battle against Covid-19 takes on the characteristics of a long war, with campaigns, skirmishes, hotspots, successes, and setbacks, it is worthwhile to note that in matters like this, science doesn’t have all the answers. Science can provide guidance, which we should integrate into our response, but that guidance has to be balanced against other concerns, chief among them the human and economic cost of shutting down large swaths of the economy in the name of public safety.

Another area where we should honestly balance and discuss scientific theories and concerns against other considerations is in the use of fossil fuels. Much is written about the risks and costs of using carbon-based fuels, while little is published about the benefits. And they are legion.

Outside of two fantastic, post-college winters that I spent teaching skiing, I have worked at the business of finding and producing hydrocarbon energy for my entire adult life. It will be 31 years this fall. For the first half of that tenure I did my job for reasons like I like geophysics, and I like the excitement of drilling wells, but I had no real philosophy to back up my career choice. No deeper sense of why I did what I did, or even whether I should do it. Somewhere in the early 2000s, I began to think about those things, and I came to the understanding that finding energy was important, that it was a job that mattered.

It is another difficult time in the energy business. Many people have already lost jobs and there will be more to come. Some will leave the industry for good. Others, even those who stay employed, may wonder whether the rewards are worth the anguish and uncertainty associated with cycles of boom and bust. If you’re looking for something to help you justify why you stick with a business that can be so heartbreaking, may I suggest reading “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels” by Alex Epstein. I would love to highlight a couple of counterintuitive insights that the author illuminates, but I won’t cheerlead. Suffice to say that the book reinforces my feeling that the work of finding and producing hydrocarbon energy resources is work that is not only rewarding, but of manifest importance to the world. Scott Tinker’s “Switch Energy Alliance” is another resource—a massive, multi-platform effort that seeks to educate the world about the need for affordable, reliable energy and to talk honestly about the risks and benefits of all its forms. The premise that the work of finding and producing hydrocarbon energy is a necessary evil is widely accepted, even among those who work in the industry. We sell ourselves far too short when we accept that premise. Both of these resources can help to arm you against that notion, and perhaps inspire you to maintain your efforts to supply the world with affordable, reliable energy.

Once again, I must notify the membership of our need for officers in 2020/2021. The last part of our LGS season in 2020 has been a bust, but I am optimistic that we will resume normal operations—luncheons, interesting speakers, a fall barbecue—in September. Please consider helping out. If you would like more information feel free to contact me or any of the board members. I wish you all the best in the coming months as we continue to wage, and win, our long war.

Best regards,

Trevor Casper

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