What are the biggest obstacles/challenges facing the energy industry?

Answer by Ryan Carlyle:

The public's complete and utter lack of energy literacy.

Take farming. Imagine a child who doesn't know that meat comes from animals, or that manure can be used as a fertilizer. That's roughly the level of ignorance that almost everyone has about energy — such as how electricity gets to their house, or how gasoline gets into their tank. Maybe they get the rough idea, but it's very much at the "food comes from farms" level. There's no real understanding of the processes, limitations, economics, or practical application of it.

Energy is a fundamental requirement for civilization at any level beyond substinence farming. It is every bit as important to humanity as agriculture. This is a subject that should be taught in high school (if not sooner). Here are some facts that everyone should understand, but remarkably few do:

  • Very elementary thermodynamics: There is no free energy. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, merely converted from one type to another. All energy conversions involve some amount of waste and eventually all energy becomes heat.
  • Most energy globally is used for transport, heating, cooling, and making stuff (industry). Those three dwarf everything else.
  • Electricity must be generated at the exact instant it's used, kept in a precise balance for every second of every day. Storage is difficult and lossy (see first bullet).
  • Oil mostly comes from prehistoric algae (not dinosaurs) and is found in microscopic voids in porous rocks (not underground lakes).

I could keep going, but it would take a lot more than a single Quora answer to cover everything.

But why is this a challenge? Because democracies have trouble developing effective policies when:

  • Voters don't understand the issues
  • Politicians exploit the issues for partisan gain
  • The experts are consistently cast as "biased insiders" and discredited

It's embarrassing and a little tragic, because we end up just making awful decisions.

Unfortunately, the conventional energy sector (coal, oil, gas, nuclear, electricity transmission, etc) has done a terrible job of PR management for the last fifty years. We take basic infrastructure like power and water for granted to such an extreme level that access to them is considered a basic human right — and yet we despise the heavily-regulated companies that provide them.

Think about that for a second. We have nothing but hate for the companies tasked with providing the most essential services of civilization!

I think power linesmen do as risky and important of a job as firemen, but we hate the power company and love the fire department. Services we rarely need are glorified but ones we can't live without are ignored. It's the sort of mental juxtaposition that should crumble instantly upon examination, but no one ever bothers to examine it. People just don't know enough about energy.

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What are the key features of a “Californian accent”?

Answer by Marc Ettlinger:

Some features of California English that I've noticed include:


  • The cot~caught merger, meaning those two words are pronounced the same way.
  • A fronted-u – stick your tongue forward as you say coool and you'll sound Californian, particularly in certain contexts.
  • /I/ (ih) raising in Northbayer's pronunciation of ing as "eeng" instead of "ihng". (I've heard this to the point where the ng sounds almost like an ñ
  • o backing as in Mom for example, with an almost pharyngealized vowel.

These corroborate the findings and additional changes described here:

There are also some instances of pin/pen merger in the valley.


Californians drink soda (not pop) with their sub (not grinder or hoagie) which has a heel (not crust). They use a water or drinking fountain (not bubbler) and play with roly-polys (not pill bugs or millipedes) and fireflies (not lightning bugs) in their tennis shoes (not sneakers).  Not to mention the intricate highway naming conventions described here: California English

Obviously hella is a famous neologisms but so is Hyphy (NorCal represent!) and you can credit Californians for popularizing awesome, totally, fer sure, harsh, gnarly, and dude for the rest of the country a few decades back, for better or worse.


Nothing strike me in particular as Cali grammar (contrast double-modals, He might could run the race, for example or positive anymoreGas is expensive anymore). The exception I've heard of is dramatic so which is supposedly characteristically Californian (e.g., I will so go with you).


Historically, the big influence on California speech was the Dust bowl migration of the 20s and 30s, with the Okies flooding into the valley. This is one of the major sources of valley speak, or valley girl.

(I've heard that pictures of Nic Cage gets you many many internet points)

Today, the cities of SF and LA see a tremendous amount of national and international migration, so it's difficult to figure out who is speaking what. That might explain why it seems like you hear a lot of ASE — the people you're speaking to will likely be from elsewhere or at least have parents from elsewhere.

A lot of the dialect projects focus on the valley, for example, to try to get a sense of what the California dialect is all about. As a new state, there's still a lot to learn, so keep your eye out for new developments on the key features of the California accent.

The leading expert on California English is Penny Eckert and her Voices of California is the go-to resources for learning more about, well…, the Voices of California.

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The feeling of unpredictability

What will come out is several sentences of ramble.

I’ve been going to several networking events, hackathons, interacting with a lot of different people, just trying to broaden and understand my own purpose in life. What do I want to do? What do I don’t want to do?

I’m seeing life change before my eyes. New friends pop up, old friends I don’t see that frequently. Jobs, occupations, interests change. Having to make sacrifices in my own life just to be able to adapt to a changing society.

New types of jobs, and technologies I previously never thought of are popping up very quickly that I didn’t expect when I graduated from high school. Old industries are falling, new industries are being created.

The definition of work is changing rapidly, people are expecting more work-life balance. College is increasingly becoming a less reliable way of being able to get a job in the new economy.

One either can remain stagnant or adapt.

This is the question I ask.