May 20, 2017

The Problem of Energy Consumption and How to Solve It

Dan Jira
Writing Seminar 
Professor Beery 
April 28, 2017 
The Problem of Energy Consumption and How to Solve It 
Mahatma Gandhi once said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” One-hundred years later, we are feeling the ramifications of the later half of that quote. Non-renewable sources of energy are depleting, and the quicker we use them up, the quicker we are destroying the ozone layer of our atmosphere. Although alternative sources of energy are here and ever advancing, until hydrogen as a fuel source is introduced, we will never be able to run an emissions free economy. 
Whether or not you believe that global warming exists, it cannot be denied that the global use of energy is increasing every year. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, energy consumption per person (in Million Btu) has gone up from 65 in the year 2000 to 74 in the year 2010. That is the equivalent of each person in the world using 1.9 tonnes of oil each year.  The current rise of per capita energy consumption is worrying news considering that from 1980 to 2000, the average energy consumption over those 20 years was 63.9 Million Btu. However, the average over just the next ten years, from 2001 to 2011, was up to 77.1 Million Btu. This meteoric rise in energy consumption per person may not seem too drastic, but when you look at the world consumption of energy, during those ten years, you can see that it has risen from 400.6 Quadrillion Btu all the way up to 520.3 Quadrillion Btu. This 120 Quadrillion Btu increase over those ten years is nothing however, when you look at the data from 1980. The world consumption of energy in 1980 is 237 points lower than it is 31 years later. That increase is what I am concerned about. The 520.3 Quadrillion Btu of energy that the world used in 2011 is the equivalent of 89.66 Billion tonnes of oil (U.S. Energy Information Administration).  
It must be considered that because this table includes renewable sources of energy as well as nonrenewable that surely this cannot be a bad thing. However, in 1980, the average Petroleum consumption was 63,122 Thousand Barrels of Oil per day. In 1990, there was a modest increase to 66,541 Thousand Barrels of Oil per day.  The increase from 1990 to 2000 was a bit more drastic. In the year 2000, world consumption of oil was up to 76,928 Thousand Barrels of Oil per day. The consumption from the years 2000 to 2010 is just a bit more drastic. In the year 2010, world consumption of oil was up to 88,216 Thousand Barrels of Oil per day. Sure the increase over ten year intervals is not unexpected given the needs of the planet. However, the increase of  global consumption of 25,094 Thousand Barrels of Oil per day is worrying nonetheless. The story is even more drastic with natural gas. From 1980 to 2010, the global increase of natural gas was up 60,915 Billion Cubic Feet. From 52,943 Billion Cubic Feet in 1980 to 113,858 Billion Cubic Feet in 2010. The story for coal is the exact same, with an increase of global use of 3,762,483 Thousand Short tons from 1980 to 2010. The energy needs of the planet are more than telling of the increase in electricity consumption. The number of Billions of Kilowatt Hours the planet needed doubled from 1980 to 2005 and increased a staggering 11,357 Billion Kilowatt Hours over the course of thirty years, from 1980 to 2010. All of this translates to the huge increase in global CO2 emissions from 1980 to 2010 from 8,825.2 Million Metric Tons in 1980 to 11,392.4 Million Metric Tons in 2010. Sure these numbers may not seem huge, however if you add the total production of CO2 emissions over the course of those 30 years, then do you see where within the problem lies. From 1980 to 2010 an astronomical amount of 299,438.5 Million Metric Tons of CO2 emissions has been put into the atmosphere of our planet (U.S. Energy Information Administration). 
All of these billions of tons of CO2 have been building up in the upper atmosphere of our planet. Contrary to what some people think, these gasses are not causing a degradation of the atmosphere. No, rather, they are doing something a bit worse. These gasses are starting to build up another layer of the atmosphere. This layer is thicker than most of the other upper layers of the atmosphere and is trapping the sun’s rays inside the atmosphere, and in turn making the planet warmer. This change in temperature, although miniscule when compared to the universal thermometer, is causing significant damage to the planet. It cannot be denied that the ice caps are melting, and that deserts are expanding. If you look at the California drought of the past year, then you know of the problems that I am referring to. There must be a solution to all of this, because as much as the ecomaniacs want us to turn away from non-renewable fuels immediately, it is not that easy. 
Currently, the most widely used renewable power source is hydropower. From the early days of hydropower when a calm stream turned a water-wheel used to mill grain, to the modern-day marvel of the Three Gorges Hydroelectric power-plant in China which helped the nation produce more than 50% of the world’s hydroelectric power (Power-Technology). The only problem with hydroelectric power is that no matter how efficient it is, it is limited. The location of hydroelectric power plants is limited to land and environmental restrictions. Most hydroelectric dams create lakes behind them. Because of this, it is required for these dams to be put in specific places, and only after extensive geological surveys to make sure that the resulting lake created by the dam would not destroy any sensitive ecosystems in the area. 
The second most widely used renewable energy source is also the oldest: wind power. Wind has been used to power grain mills since the early 9th Century to grind grain. However, it is only as of 1888 that wind has been used to create electricity. In recent years, the “annual growth rate of cumulative wind power capacity has averaged 25% during the last five years” (Power-Technology). The largest on land wind farm in the world is actually in California. The Alta Wind Energy Centre has an operational capacity of 1,550MW through 586 individual turbines. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States consumed 3868 Gigawatts of electrical power. This means that the largest wind farm in the world can only produce 0.0004% of the electrical power required to run the nation. However, there is a problem. The General Electric 1.5MW Turbines that are the most common around the world, are massive. These windmills are, on average, 80 m tall, and the rotors are 77 m in diameter. If you were to fill the cylinder of operating space that these turbines need with water, you could fill 149 olympic size swimming pools. This means that the most efficient, and largest, wind farm in the world is situated on 3,500 acres. Solar power is the world’s third most productive renewable source of energy generating around 100GW per year (Power-Technology). Solar power has the same problem that wind energy does, in that its source is not constant. Unlike a hydropower facility where the source is a constant flow from a dammed river, solar panels and wind turbines are constantly plagued by the lack of their sources. However, these three sources offer one advantage that coal powered electrical plants could never achieve: zero emissions.  
Electricity is said to be the future of transportation; however, I disagree. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electricity production accounts for the largest amount of CO2 emissions at 30% whereas transportation on accounts for 26. This means that until electricity is generated completely emission free, electricity is not the most efficient way to power your vehicle. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel because there is a solution coming soon. Hydrogen. The most abundant element in the universe in the universe has been powering the largest object in our solar system for over three trillion years, our sun. A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle operates on the same basic principles that make the sun shine. By smashing two hydrogen atoms into each other, a massive amount of energy is created. In the sun, this process causes radiation, however, luckily, here on earth, this process needs to be stimulated by oxygen. This means that when liquid hydrogen travels from its fuel cell to the engine of a car, and is mixed with just the air around it, not only does it push the piston up, enabling step one of a 4-cycle engine, but the gasses which are then expelled from the pipe in the back of your car come out as the wonderful chemical, dihydrogen monoxide, or, water. 
Problem solved then... except I don’t think it is. I foresee another problem arising from the use hydrogen. The problem that I foresee is something that has only been published in six scientific journals as of 2015. The problem I foresee derives from a single line of dialogue that I watched about NASA on the Discovery channel when I was home sick from school one day. In single thirty second clip of this documentary, an SRB, or Solid Rocket Booster, was being test-fired. In order to cool the exhaust gasses, thousands of gallons of water were sprayed into the nozzle of the rocket engine to cool the gasses so they would not burn the area of land behind the SRB. It was the next line of dialogue though that I have remembered through all of these years. It said “Because of the amount of water vapor, or steam, that was created during the cooling of this engine, it will rain two hours from now on a government owned wetland 20 miles east of this facility. In the 1970s, they thought it was a coincidence, but they now know that it is in fact the test firing and cooling of the rocket engines that causes this rain-shower.”  After I heard this I theorized that if every vehicle in the United States were to run on hydrogen, with each car producing about the same amount of water vapor as it would CO2, weather patterns around the world would drastically change, for better or worse. It turns out that I was not alone in my theories, and in 2006, a journal published to Stanford University’s Global Climate & Energy Project stated that “A hydrogen economy is expected to reduce particulate concentrations overall although some local increases may occur due to changes in precipitation patterns” (Jacobson, et al.). This complex sentence is basically saying that if we switch to a hydrogen economy, emissions will be reduced overall, however, there will be changes in weather patterns. 
My solution on how to solve the energy and climate crisis is to use hydrogen power only in certain places. The main place where I would implement hydrogen power is electricity power stations. The amount of energy that could be produced with hydrogen instead of coal is about a 25% increase in power production. The water vapor exhaust could be collected and condensed inside the plant to produce water. In areas where water is plentiful, this can be put straight back into the ecosystem. However, in areas where clean water is a luxury, the water can then be used for drinking and irrigation. Furthermore, if this system were to be implemented into areas where electricity and clean water are uncommon, or even unheard of, then the benefits of a system which could provide both are astronomical. Another area where I see hydrogen power benefiting is the global shipping fleet. If a shipping boat were able to produce its own clean water while underway, and not have to carry it with them from the beginning, they would be able to carry more cargo, and produce no emissions doing so. Furthermore, this can also be applied to cruise ships that currently produce large amounts of CO2 emissions. If those emissions were replaced with water, the ship would be able to provide clean water for all aboard as long as the engines could run. The last place I would envision hydrogen power, and its by-products being useful is an emergency backup generator. Not only would this provide the user with electricity, but also clean water. If these ideas were implemented alongside hydro, wind, and solar power, than I believe the world could work to an emissions free power grid. 
The current power demands of the world we live in cause the emissions problems that we have been creating since the industrial revolution. However, it has only been within the past 40 years that we have started to realize the effects of our need for energy. Although we may be constantly expanding our use of renewable energy sources, it cannot be denied that they are not advanced enough yet to meet the needs of the planet. However, I believe that within the next 15 years, an emissions free economy can be created by changing the current fuel of choice of power plants from coal to hydrogen. 
Page Break 
Works Cited 
“Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC), California.” Power Technology, Power Technology, 
“2013 Honda Civic EX Sedan Review.” Automobile-Catalogue, Automobile-Catalogue, 
“2013 Honda FCX Clarity Review.” Automobile-Catalogue, Automobile-Catalogue, 
Gandhi, Mahatma. “A Quote by Mahatma Gandhi.” Goodreads, Goodreads Inc., 
Jacobson, Mark Z, et al. “Hydrogen Effects on Climate, Stratospheric Ozone, and Air Polution.” Stanford University: Global Climate & Energy Project, 2006, p. 10., 
“The World's Most Used Renewable Power Sources.” Power Technology, Power Technology, 2015, 
“U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis.” International Energy Statistics, United States Department of Energy, 

May 2, 2017

The Oncoming Storm

The Oncoming Storm
Dan Jira

Three in the morning.
The threat of the oncoming storm
Haunts me as I stand and listen
To the rhythmic fwoosh of the windmills,
The generation of electricity
Drowns out my thoughts

The headphones on my head
Acting as nothing more than warmers
For my cold ears,
As I listen to the wind
Beating me up as I walk
And billowing my coattails behind me.

The darkness envelopes me
As I stand in the shadow of a streetlight
And raise the lighter to my mouth
As I try to fight the wind to light
Something I never thought
Would be hanging from my lips.

As I walk into the dorm
My face red and wet
The rain streaming down my cheeks
Crying tears my eyes refuse to produce
The halls are empty
As I walk to my door.

The taste of the cigarette
Stale upon my lips.
The same one that fell out of my fingers
That were too numb from the cold.
The smell my mother would kill me for
Reeks from my jacket.

I throw my keys on the desk
My overcoat on my bedpost,
Careful not to wake my roommate
As I try and breathe life back
Into my long lost fingers
And fall into my bed.

February 17, 2017

Déjà Vu

Dan Jira - 2/14/17

Have I done this before?
But how could I have?
I only just met you.
Haven’t I?
Is this a dream?
Reality doesn’t make sense.
I know where I am,
But how did I get here?
How long have we been walking?
How long have we been stopped?
Has it always been snowing?
What happened to the sun?
The moon is pretty,
And so are you,
But who are you?
Who am I?
Have we done this before?

Have I done this before?
But how could I have?
I only just met you.
Haven’t I?
Is this a dream?
Reality doesn’t make sense.
I know where I am,
But how did I get here?
How long have we been walking?
How long have we been stopped?
Has it always been snowing?
What happened to the sun?
The moon is pretty,
And so are you,
But who are you?
Who am I?
Have we done this before?

February 15, 2017


Dan Jira – 2/14/17

It was August the first time I walked this path,
I was nothing more than a new student who was lost
I was wandering around campus,
And here, in the back, away from everybody,
I found this strip of tarmac,
Carved out of the surrounding fields.

That first night, out on the path,
As I stopped to admire the windmills,
I felt it.

I felt the wind for the first time in forever.
The wind I used to feel, on a calm day on the lake.
Gentle, reassuring, and carrying the sweet scent of summer.
Although I had felt this wind earlier that month,
This time it was different.
This time it also carried a new scent. Freedom.

I have since walked that path
Almost every night that I have been here,
And I still feel it.

Now it is February, and its different again.
This time, I do not walk the path alone,
This time I walked the path with you for the first time.
Although I didn’t know you for that first stroll,
A familiar feeling blew upon my face.
This time stinging my nose, and cheeks.

But it still felt the same.
As we hold hands, and walk into the night,

The wind still blows.

February 7, 2017

A Review of Google Pixel Reviews

Dan Jira
Professor Beery
Writing Seminar
6 February 2017
A Review of Google Pixel Reviews
            The problem with buying a new Android cell phone is that there is too much choice. I will admit that life would be a lot easier if I was in the Apple camp of mobile devices, just buy the new one that came out three days after you bought your current phone. However, that is why I prefer the Android operating system, a Google developed OS, for the choice. Eventually, you end up choosing an Android phone on little things that are easy to nit-pick, for example, the camera quality, or battery life. When it came time for my cell phone’s upgrade in early August, I was dead set on the newest offering from Motorola. Until I saw an advertisement for a brand new device from Google itself. The Pixel. It ran the newest version of the Android OS, and had a suite of goodies unique to that phone, such as the Google Assistant. However, I wanted to read some of the reviews on this new device to make sure that it was not just a rebranded, and Android running iPhone. Some of the reviews I found were terrible, and some of them sold me on the phone completely; however, they made me think. We spend so much time researching products, and reading reviews of products, but we never take time to look at the reviews themselves. So, I determined, four months after purchasing the Pixel, to take an in depth look at some of its reviews, and give them a review of my own.
            I chose four reviews to be the back bone of this paper, and they are all reviewing the Google Pixel / Pixel XL. These four reviews are from different websites, and all four are from four different countries where the Pixel is sold. These four reviews were selected by Google-ing “Google Pixel Review” and selecting the first four reviews that came up. Additionally, some of the reviews were either posted or edited less than three days before the writing of this paper, and some were posted over a month and a half ago. However, all four reviews will be judged on the same four criteria, the date of publication, quality of writing, if there is a bias in the writing, such as an Apple fanatic reviewing Google’s product, and if there is a rating system, and if it makes sense or not.
            The Google Pixel has only been out for consumer purchase for 5 months as of the time of writing this paper, and has only been available for press use for the past 6 months in order to have reviews of the product available to the public by the time it was available. The first review that I looked at, from, was posted on 18 October of 2016, two days before the public release date of 20 October 2016. According to the site, this review was published after six days of using the phone ( Another site,, has recently updated their review as of 27 January 2017, however, the site also provides an initial review for the phone, an update after two months of use, as well as updates to the review for whenever the software gets updated as well. The third review, from, posted the 23rd of January 2017. The last review I looked at, from, was first published 25 January 2017. These last two reviews gave the reviewers ample time to use the device, however a review published this long after the initial release date, no matter how in depth or relevant the information might be, would be irrelevant to the early on consumer.
            The quality of writing on a review can be the determining factor for some people when looking for a product. They may not want to purchase a product with a horrifically written review because they do not wish to be roped into a stereotype about a product’s users. All four of the reviews that were looked at for this essay were professionally written, which kept the writing clean and organized. However, as all four articles were written for different sites, and in four different countries, the articles reflected what the reader-base of those articles would be concerned about. The review from was by far the most technical of the reviews, covering everything from unboxing videos, to processor speeds with everything a hardcore phone nerd would want to know about in-between. However, the article from focused more on its general readers, from lower and middle class India. The title of the review is even “Google Pixel review: You’ll love it, but here’s why you absolutely won’t buy it”. The reviewer, Sahil Bhalla, makes it plain to his readers that the Pixel that he has to rave about the features of the phone, and how they compare to Apple’s offering of the iPhone 7; however, he also compares it to the OnePlus 3, another Android based phone that is available in India. He makes it plain to the Indian readers that although the Pixel is a fantastic device, the Rs 29k price difference between the two phones is incredible, and if his readers have the option between the OnePlus 3, and the Pixel, then they should go for the OnePlus 3, and “go on a holiday somewhere toward the South of India.” ( The other two sites, and are based in London, UK, and the reviews show it. Although cost is mentioned in the cons list of both site’s reviews, it is not as much of a major roadblock as it was in the review from However, there are a few problems with the two sites. The review from is littered with ways to get the best deal for the phone in the country, however, these somewhat helpful additions end up looking too much like a mess of advertisements on the site, which distracts the reader from the review. The review from is a well written review in its own right, however, it brings me to my next criteria when looking at these reviews.
            The review from is clearly written with an Android fan’s bias. Even in the verdict of the review, the author, Richard Goodwin, states that “I used to be a Nexus [another phone with the Android OS] purist. Not anymore. Now I am a Pixel purist.” ( Even the article from, which advises its readers that they should probably purchase a different device because of the Pixel’s price, even acknowledges that “You’ll definitely buy the iPhone if you’re already embedded in the Apple ecosystem” ( However, Bhalla does acknowledge that he also uses the aforementioned OnePlus 3 as his actual mobile phone, but he does a good job telling his readers that they could get all of the features on this lesser known device by presenting it as nothing more than an option for them, instead of telling them that the OnePlus 3 is the phone that they should definitely buy. Additionally, the article from is very obviously biased in the form that it is written by an author who writes for an Android based website, however, this type of website attracts similar type of visitors, who are also very biased towards the Android system, so it ends up working out.
            A review isn’t a review if there is no rating system, and this essay reviewing reviews is no different. Two of the reviews out of the four did not include a rating system, however, the verdict was very clearly written out in paragraph form at the bottom of the review. They were both proper conclusions to the reviews which allotted a very distinct verdict of the product. However, the other two, from and, both included a 5-star rating system with pros and cons underneath the stars. and both gave the Pixel 4.5 and 5 stars respectively. Of course, I can not leave this review without rating these reviews on my own scale. In honor of the random fast food reviews that litter YouTube, I have come up with my own rating system these reviews will be scored out of 8 schnobbles. The first review, from I have given 7 schnobbles for being informative, but it loses a point for not having review system that is easy to glance at. The next review, from I have given 7.5 schnobbles for being clear cut, and concise. The next review, from I have given 8 out of 8 schnobbles for having a day one review, as well as a two month update, and a review on each of the updates for the phone that has come out. The last review, from I have given 7 out of 8 schnobbles this review has strengths in the fact that the reviewer tells it like it is, telling his readers that the Pixel is wonderful, however, it is not worth the price in India where there are better options available.
            Out of the four reviews that I have read for this paper, there were many interesting differences. Such as the locations of the reviewers, and their perspective on the new device. All in all, these reviews highlight the pros and cons of this new phone, while both telling it like it is to their readers. Although all of these reviews were posted too late to help me choose my new phone, they will be perfect for their readers, in determining if they should purchase the Google Pixel / Pixel XL or not.

Works Cited
Bhalla, Sahil. “Google Pixel Review: You'Ll Love It, but Here's Why You Absolutely Won't Buy It.”, Catch News, 27 Jan. 2017,
Dobie, Alex. “Google Pixel + Pixel XL Review.” Android Central, Mobile Nations, 11 Nov. 2016,
Goodwin, Richard. “Google Pixel XL Review: The Best Android Phone Right Now.” Know Your Mobile, Dennis Publishing, 27 Jan. 2017,
Parker, Max. “Google Pixel Review: Easily the Best Camera on a Phone.” TrustedReviews, Time Inc. (UK), 23 Jan. 2017,

February 6, 2017


This post will be a little different, as it is just an announcement of things to come in the following couple of months. This semester I have been enrolled in a Gen Ed course entitled Writing Seminar. For this class, I will be writing a number of essays, and have written one already. I will be posting these essays under the tag "Essays", and the posts will be titled as the papers are. Feel free to ignore these as you wish. Cheers!

February 1, 2017


Dan Jira

It was six months ago,

I laid my eyes upon you for the first time.

It was five months ago,
We said our first hellos.

It was four months ago,
I had first fallen for you.

It was three months ago,
I told myself no, and put the thought of you aside.

It was two months ago,
I had thought of you as no more than a friend.

It was one month ago,
I looked upon you with new eyes.

It was last week,
I finally considered it.

It was two days ago,
I thought about how to ask you.

It was earlier this evening,
I finally decided to ask you.

January 8, 2017

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Book Summary:
"Hercule Poirot is a private detective. He is summoned to London to solve a case and boards the Orient Express, securing a first class compartment, through his friend M. Bouc. Once aboard the train a passenger, who is traveling under the name of Rachett, asks him to make sure he survives through a possible attempt to end his life. Mr. Poirot refuses and soon after Rachett is murdered. While the train is stuck in a snow bank, M. Bouc asks Poirot to take on the case and find the murder. 

When Poirot takes on the case he finds incriminating clues such as a pipe cleaner and a button from a Wagon Lit conductor uniform. These two make it seem as if Colonel Arbuthnot and Pierre Michel both took part in the murder. The description of the murder by the Greek doctor, Dr. Constantine, showed that Rachett had been stabbed repeatedly to a total of twelve times all with varying amount strength. Due to further investigation of the room Hercule Poirot finds a burnt piece of paper linking this murder to a crime, which had happened years ago in America. It was the Armstrong case, where a man named Cassetti had kidnapped and killed a baby leading to a string of deaths, including the baby's mother, father, and nursery maid. 

Hercule Poirot questions all the people on the train and finds that the murder went into Rachett's room and killed the drugged man and snuck out through Mrs. Hubbards room and awakened her. Then he or she snuck into their room before the Matron was able to call for the Wagon Lit, Pierre Michel. Then he begins to notice certain factors relating the set of passengers to the people who took part in the Armstrong case. He suspicions are most aroused when Princess Dragomiroff claimed to be Sonia Armstrong's godmother and the close friend of Linda Arden. Despite the fact that some of his information is false because of the loyalties on the train, Poirot makes a valiant attempt to solve the mystery before the snow melts and it is left to the idiotic police. 

My Review:
This is a very good murder mystery novel. It made me take a few steps back and think about the case, just as Poirot has done. Sure, there are a few things that pop out, for example, I thought it was very strange that all of these people were connected, and how they came to be on the same train is never explained. However, I must admit, the ending annoyed me because although it was very clear, and well thought out, its just not the ending you would have expected, as in, it wasn't just one person, and it feels like a sort of cop-out to me. All in all though, it is clear to see why Agatha Christie is one of the most beloved mystery authors of all time.

Review Summary:
Readability: 4.5/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Total Pages: 336
Reading Time: 8 Hours
Would I recommend this book? Yes

Book Challenge Qualifications:
Back to the Classics Challenge 2017: A book by a woman author
Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge 2017: Book 1

January 5, 2017


Dan Jira

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning
I’ve been awake for 34 hours.
My watch says it’s Thursday
I don’t know if I believe it.

I’m tired.
Every fiber of my being aches.
It screams for relief.
I wish I could comfort it.

I lay down,
And the only comfort I receive
Is the strain on my eyes

After an hour,
Other than counting,
To keep myself from thinking,
Nothing is achieved.

My eyelids no longer hurt,
Seeing is no longer painful,
My brain takes these inputs,
And wakes me back up again.

My body is tired.
I want to put my brain on mute,
So I can’t hear my thoughts,
And finally fall asleep.