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Tuesday, August 9, 2022


CPH holds global forum on energy

The UH Center for Public History recently held lectures to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of living in modern energy capitals.

Two Houston professors led the lectures, which drew experts from around the globe.

“The paper focused on questions related to oil-led economic development in Houston during the 20th century and the impact of that development on urban growth, labor, immigration, environmental pollution and land issues,” said director of the Center for Public History Martin Melosi.

The energy capitals that were represented share similar problems, but the city of Houston was selected due to its status as one of the most energy dependent cities in the world.

“Although Houston is not necessarily a model for all energy development globally, the city’s status as ‘the energy capital of the United States’ made our venue a logical one,” said Melosi.

After funding was granted by the National Science Foundation and UH, it was decided the meetings would be held in Houston.

Cullen professor of history and business Joseph Pratt said he was pleased to lead these lectures from home but, more importantly, that Houston set the example and can promote more meetings in other locations.

“We had scholars from around the nation and the world,” Pratt said. “We hope that our conference will help create regular meetings here and in other cities to explore common issues in cities strongly influenced by energy-led development.”

The lectures were held from May 21-22, and allowed scholars and experts like Melosi and Pratt to share their findings in an open forum. Experts from as far as Perth, Australia, descended on the Houston campus to discuss some of the problems faced in their energy led cities.

“The advantages are certainly economic – for the companies, workers, and in some cases, the cities themselves,” Melosi said. “The downside is that local communities that produce energy normally carry the environmental burden rather than distributing it among the users of that energy.”

Attendees, in order to gather as much information as possible and find similarities among the global problems and assets associated with energy production and distribution, discussed a total of ten papers. Another purpose of the meetings was to gain support for publishing their findings from the different discussed areas.

“We had a wide range of papers on the following cities besides Houston,” Melosi said. “We anticipate completing a book project incorporating these cities.”

Some of the countries and states involved included Mexico, Canada, Louisiana and Tennessee.

These lectures were just the beginning for Melosi and Pratt, who said they hope the meetings between these energy experts will spawn more gatherings and bring further attention to the issues discussed.

“Our first step is to complete the book. We also are considering additional workshops,” Melosi said. “We also want to take the lessons learned and provide them to policymakers wherever possible.”

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