It is fitting that scholars in history, social sciences and energy from around the world gathered at the University of Houston to discuss research on the influence—good and bad—of the energy industry on the regions they inhabit. Sponsored by the UH Center for Public History, “Energy Capitals” sought to discuss the industry beyond its production reputation.
“What we want to do is not only emphasize the importance of energy as a theme—not only an historical theme and a theme in national world policy—but intersect that with urban development and environmental issues,” said Martin Melosi, distinguished professor of history is known nationally as an expert in environmental and energy history. Melosi says while the production side of the energy industry is top of mind, what’s missed is their local impact.
Scholars presented work on energy capitals such as Tampico, Mexico, Los Angeles, Oklahoma city and Houston—the energy capital of the world.
“If you look at the medical center; if you look at the Johnson Space Center; if you look at Friendswood development if you look at the Mitchell Corporation in the Woodlands, this is oil money reinvested here, for profit certainly, but also in the growth of the city itself,” Melosi said.
The workshop featured Nobel laureate John Byrne, who was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former President Al Gore for efforts to raise awareness of global warming. He led a discussion on Port Gentil, Gabon, and Perth, Australia.
Melosi anticipates the all research presented to be compiled into a book on the local impact and global influence of energy capitals.
“Energy has been such an important employer, such an important player, in the history of Houston. The identity of Houston is melded with it that we felt that this is the place where we should begin the conversation,” he said.
Energy Research is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.