Reinventing the Wheel
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
In an era of transition, companies must change. People must change. McLaughlin was a rare breed of company: one that faced radical disruption in its industry and, instead of denying it, embraced it — to great success. The industry was carriage making, and McLaughlin was at the top of that game. But when the automobile started gaining in popularity, one of the sons in this family company knew they needed to change lanes. The carriage-maker became automaker and, ultimately, General Motors Canada. This is the ultimate story of a corporate pivot and adaptation to new realities. To see the art for ..read more
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Hubris Defined
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
This is a cautionary tale about arrogance in the energy business. When a 1914 dictionary dropped coal from its definition of “fuel,” the Standard Oil Bulletin gloated that coal was an “also-ran.” But cheap energy is tough to displace, and hubris is ill-advised. Over a century later, coal still reigns in the energy mix of most countries. Never count out the "also-rans." To see the dictionary and the Standard Oil Bulletin in this story, visit energyphile.org/hubris ..read more
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The Investor Visit
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
A 1915 photograph of individuals visiting a drilling rig gets energy economist Peter Tertzakian wondering who they are and what brought them there. The result is this story of Graeme, a savvy investor visiting his oil investment, a rig that he quickly discerns is on its way to obsolescence. Impervious to the gushing promises of a fast-talking broker and slick oil company CEO, Graeme imparts investment wisdom and business lessons that still stand the test of time. To see the photograph and other art for the story, visit energyphile.org/investorvisit ..read more
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The Great Aha
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
In 1914, Ed Tucker, a once-staunch stagecoach driver, sees the light and buys a Ford Model T, never to look back. This story shows how swift adoption of a revolutionary new innovation happens when the benefits of that new technology are compellingly evident — and meet human needs head-on. It’s why electric vehicles haven’t taken over the world as swiftly as people thought they would — they simply aren’t the no-brainer the Model T was. To see the art in the story, visit energyphile.org/aha ..read more
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Rocket Man
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk. All titans of innovation. But also masters of showcasing their innovations. You may not have heard of Max Valier, but he too is an example of the bravado, vision and wild ideas required to alter the course of history. While everybody else was talking combustion engines in the early 20th century, Max was working with rockets. This early pioneer of rocket-powered travel — whose demonstrations in the 1930s brought people in droves to the racetrack — inspired the next generation of scientists and engineers. To see the art in this story, visit energ ..read more
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When Stoke Stokes
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
In 1947 England, George sends his daughter a postcard featuring smoke-belching factories. “It isn’t quite as bad as this,” he assured her. Why was such an image glorified? Who on earth would put it on a postcard in the first place? The answer lies in our changing definition of prosperity. In post–World War II England, such an environmentally egregious sight signified industrial fortitude. Now of course, our values have changed and, with them, our visual indicators of prosperity. To see this postcard and other similar industrial-themed postcards, visit energyphile.org/stoke ..read more
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Stairway to Hell
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
This story is about corporate failure in the extreme. A cautionary tale of a once-bustling coal mining hub turned ghost town, Stairway to Hell examines the perils of relying on hope as a strategy in the face of competitive assault. Its lessons are as true now as they were then — and the repercussions as dire. To see the art in the story, visit energyphile.org/stairway ..read more
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Nobody Tips a Scandiscope
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
On a chilly January morning in 1857, 7-year-old Henry Haworth contemplates the chimneys he must clean that day. As he meets his fate in one of them, energy economist Peter Tertzakian examines the history, ethics and economics of these “climbing boys.” The technology to replace them was available. Legislation against their use was in place. So why did the horrific practice of sending children up chimneys persist for so long? The answer is more complex than you think. To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/scandiscope ..read more
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Long Way Around
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
During the Arab Oil Embargo, Canada had to use foreign tankers to transport its oil. This is the story of the MS Kimon, a Greek-flagged tanker commissioned to make a circuitous journey from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of the United States, where its cargo was loaded onto a pipeline to make its way back into Canada. Decades later, Canada still lacks self-sufficiency in its energy infrastructure. In balancing cost, environment, economy and energy security, the last is rarely a priority … until it’s too late. To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/longway ..read more
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Alfred Dickie's Utility Bill
Energyphile
by Peter Tertzakian
3y ago
The 1915 utility bill of a lumber magnate gets energy economist Peter Tertzakian thinking about our relationship with our energy sources and the shared responsibility of consumers and producers. That unassuming piece of paper marks an important turning point in our energy history: the point at which we lost touch with where and how we get our energy — and sheds light on why people today are so distrustful of companies that supply our fuels. To see the art for this story, visit energyphile.org/alfred ..read more
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