9 down, 6 to go…

We’re now over half way through an intensive teaching week which comprises of: a fantastic 15 lectures delivered by 15 different presenters, several group debate sessions, one ‘coal tour of Durham’ and and not to forget, one trip to the pub. Dr Abram has put all of this on for one of our core modules ‘Context and Challenges in Energy and Society’ so it’s about time we fill you in briefly on what we’ve been up to and who we’ve been hearing from…


Monday – Day 1

Lecture 1: Monday morning bright and early we assembled in ‘The Penthouse Suite’ of Collingwood College to have an introductory presentation by Professor Simon Hogg (Executive Director of the Durham Energy Institute) on the state and direction of electricity supply in the UK. Although a broad field to tackle in one session it didn’t stop Professor Hogg from getting stuck into explaining some of the technicalities a changing grid represents… The differing thermal expansion properties of turbines and their casings for example, means the more flexible we want turbines to be, the less efficient they become – a fascinating insight.


Lecture 2: Next up Kamal Badreshany gave a talk on ‘The development of energy intensive ancient technologies: considering social and environmental aspects’. The presentation drew on examples primarily from the Ancient Near East and went into great details discussing the  nature and development of the two ‘eras’ of energy use – the Organic Energy Economy (OEE) of about 4-500,000 years ago to ca. 1700 followed of course by the Fossil Fuel Economy (FFE) of which we remain rooted to up to the present day…


Lecture 3: After lunch in the third session Professor Chris Stokes from the Durham Geography Department gave us an up to date overview of climate change and went on to explore his area of specialism, glaciology, in the second half of the presentation. We engaged with topics such as the rapidly disappearing mountain glaciers, the thinning of Greenland’s ice cap, the number of cities situated at, or below, present sea level and what melting mountain ice caps could mean for drinking water needs of 1/6th of the world’s population.



Lecture 4: And then for the fourth and final session of day 1 Rob Layton came to give a lecture entitled ‘Natural Resource Management – how did we get to where we are at?‘. The talk was wide and varied and drew on Rob’s studies from all over the world, in particular though it drew on his studies of gathering communities in Australia, on sustainable and non-sustainable resource management; the tragedy of commons, as well as following the path of the development of grains and cereals in the Middle East…

A fascinating and very varied series of lectures from our 4 speakers on day 1 of this intensive teaching week; thank you!


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