I was born in Scotland, not 50 miles from the birthplace of a much more famous Scot, John Muir. Muir, like me, emigrated to the United States and eventually to California and, although I was born in the century after him, my childhood exposure to nature was not dissimilar to his, and I grew up to love the outdoors - the rivers, lochs, hill, mountains and sea of Scotland.
I studied at Edinburgh University, taking a BSc and a PhD in chemistry before coming on a postdoctoral fellowship to California in 1970.
Once there, I came to love the mountains as Muir did and spent much of my spare time in the Sierras and also in the Rockies. They made an impression which has lasted a lifetime! I returned to the UK to work - initially in R&D, first in environmental science, then in combustion, before moving into R&D management and eventually general management in an energy career that eventually brought me back to California as President of BP Solar’s North American operations.
> Throughout my life, I have spent as much of my spare time outdoors as possible. I first walked across the Grand Canyon in 1972 and hiking in the hills and mountains of Europe and America has remained a passion. My current quest, to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, will take years since I only tackle it in week long, 100 mile stretches! This picture shows that I carry my convictions with me!
This enthusiasm and passion for the outdoors is matched by a concern to preserve it and, throughout my career, man’s impact on the world around us has become increasingly clear. My first job as an environmental scientist was concerned with the impact of aircraft operations on the ozone layer and the impact of the sun’s uv on the biosphere. In retrospect, aircraft did not have a great impact on the ozone layer because so few of them reach it, but we now recognize that they are just like any other combustion source and that other emissions affect not only the ozone layer but also the climate! The impact on climate is now indisputable and much of it stems from the way in which we have used our energy resources. My first job with BP was to lead a team focused on improving our ability to extract energy from poor fuels – a worthwhile goal as far as it went, but we did not even consider the carbon dioxide emissions as pollution! My last job as an employee (as President of BP Solar Inc.) set me in the privileged position of helping to minimize the impact of our energy use by promoting an energy source which is non-polluting and does not even create noise!
I have been involved with renewable energy for ten years now and watched the industries grow. World photovoltaic capacity has grown from 314MW to 2.6GW and wind from 7.6GW to 59.3GW! The biofuels and biomass industries are growing similarly and the I have watched with hope the nascent hydrogen economy. Who could fail to be inspired by the dream of an energy future where the sun is used to turn water into hydrogen and water, and the hydrogen is used to produce power and return only water!
In short, I derive much of my pleasure from nature and I am acutely aware of the threat our energy use poses to it. However I am also fortunate in having experience enough of renewable energies to be convinced that they offer a solution, provided they continue to grow apace. Such rapid growth of course depends on the availability of resources – in particular people, and it was the realization that growth could be stifled through a lack of the right talent that decided us to so something to ensure it does not happen. That something is Greenjobs and we believe it serves a growing need.