Category Archives: Decision Point

When do you know enough?

by admin | December 4, 2013

I’ve come out in favor of a tax on carbon in this space before. It hasn’t won me any friends among my oil patch brethren, but you gotta call ‘em the way you see ‘em. I’ve done far more research into the subject of anthropogenic global warming than almost any of my compatriots, and I find the evidence to be compelling.

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Redesigning Capitalism

by admin | December 1, 2013

On January 10th, I watched a thought-provoking webcast from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Science ( It was a panel discussion moderated by Bradford Gentry, a professor at the school, and featuring three experts in the area of sustainable development: Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Frances Beinecke, President of the National Resources Defense Council; and Pavan Sukhdev, CEO of GIST Advisory.

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by admin | November 20, 2013

A few weeks ago, there was an excellent op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle by Victor B. Flatt and Catherine Phillips. The title was “It’s time to focus attention on protecting the environment,” but it wasn’t just an activist’s screed, decrying modern society. Dr. Flatt and Ms. Phillips make a solid, reasoned case for the position that 1) environmental issues have become much more complex – and much more difficult for the layman to perceive – than they were forty years ago, 2) the vast majority of today’s environmental pollutants are associated with highly beneficial industrial activities, and therefore 3) solving these problems is going to involve hard tradeoffs.

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Happy Xmas – War Is (not yet) Over

by admin | November 18, 2013

It’s twelve days before Christmas, and rather than send out a partridge in a pear tree, I figured I’d write a blog entry about finding understanding between people. Maybe I’m tilting at windmills, but ‘tis the season for hope.

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Striking Gold in Natural Gas

by admin | November 4, 2013

On December 12th, I gave a presentation at a luncheon jointly sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.The title of the talk was, “Striking Gold in Natural Gas – A lesson from 1848” (on YouTube at used the example of Samuel Brannan, the first millionaire in California, to make a point about anticipating your competitors’ behaviors and identifying scarce resources.See, Mr. Brannan never found any gold.

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Disruption, or Business As Usual?

by admin | November 1, 2013

Warning: This blog post is going to tout my company more than usual. I promise I won’t make a habit of it, but within the context of this post’s subject matter, it is a logical way to go.

The October issue of the Harvard Business Review contains an article by Clayton M. Christensen, Dina Wang, and Derek van Bever entitled, “Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption – The industry that has long helped others sidestep strategic threats is itself being upended.” As you might imagine, this was the first article I turned to.

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Productivity, The Internet, And Staring Out The Window

by admin | October 29, 2013

I heard recently that the latest thing in Silicon Valley when friends go to dinner is that all cell phones are placed in the middle of the table. The first one to reach for his or her phone has to pay for the meal.

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Decision Fatigue

by admin | October 26, 2013

In my last post, I related a story about a colleague who had a difficult choice to make. At one point, he commented that he would actually have been happier had the decision simply been made for him. Recent research indicates that there are several components to this emotion. One (which I talked about last time) concerns the fact that with lots of alternatives, not only does the time and effort required to make a decision increase, but one’s expectation of satisfaction – indeed, of sheer delight – soars, making disappointment all the more likely. We’re actually happier with fewer choices.

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To Move Or Not To Move?

by admin | October 24, 2013

A colleague of mine gave me grief for constantly blogging about what’s wrong with the world. I’m actually an optimist by nature (which he knows), but I’m trying to provoke thought, which usually means discussing problems or controversies, not warm and fuzzy feel-good stories. He essentially said, “Fine, but aren’t there some interesting, thought-provoking examples which end with a good decision and a positive outcome?”

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Total Energy Consumed Part II

by admin | October 22, 2013

In my last post, I talked about some of the thought-provoking talks I saw at the Total Energy USA Conference in Houston. This time, I’d like to talk about the presentation I gave.

In a nutshell, I believe that even if a company is in the fossil fuels industry, it makes sense to support a tax on carbon. I made my case along several dimensions.

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