Dr. Carey W King performs interdisciplinary research related to how energy systems interact within the economy and environment as well as how our policy and social systems can make decisions and tradeoffs among these often competing factors. The past performance of our energy systems is no guarantee of future returns, yet we must understand the development of past energy systems. Carey’s research goals center on rigorous interpretations of the past to determine the most probable future energy pathways.
Carey is Research Scientist at The University of Texas at Austin and Assistant Director at the Energy Institute. He also has appointments with the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy within the Jackson School of Geosciences and the McCombs School of Business. He has both a B.S. with high honors and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He has published technical articles in the academic journals Environmental Science and Technology, Environmental Research Letters, Nature Geoscience, Energy Policy, Sustainability, and Ecology and Society. He has also written commentary for Earth magazine discussing energy, water, and economic interactions. Dr. King has several patents as former Director for Scientific Research of Uni-Pixel Displays, Inc.
Carey’s Curriculum Vitae: PDF
Latest Blogs and News:
2016, April 15: Figure 1 is perhaps the most interesting chart I have ever made. The purpose of this figure (from my publication here) is to provide context into metrics of net energy and see how they relate to economic data. Here, I’m asking a fundamental question: should our (worldwide) society be able to leverage money more than we can leverage energy? My hypothesis is “no” and would be represented by values < 1 in Figure 1. Clearly the plotted ratio of ratios in Figure 1 is not less than one (for all years) per my hypothesis, so why might this be the case? As I discuss below, understanding the data in Figure 1 is crucial for making better macroeconomic models of the economy that properly account for the role of energy.
Figure 1. This is a ratio of how much the worldwide economy leverages money spent by the energy sector relative to how much surplus energy is produced by the energy sector itself. Specifically this calculation (using world numbers) = (GDP/money spending on energy by the energy system) / [ (world primary energy production – energy spending by the energy system) / energy spending by the energy system)].
March 3, 2016: There have been dramatic changes in the U.S. energy system under our current president – a big drop in the use of coal, a boom in domestic oil and gas development from fracking, and the rapid spread of renewable energy. But in terms of influencing energy technology deployment, the next president will have a lot less influence than you might expect.
When it comes to educating U.S. citizens on energy’s relationship to the broader economy, though, the next president could have a great impact. But I’m not holding my breath. In fact, I’d say it’s likely not going to happen.
Here I pose a few relevant questions about energy and the economy that could be asked of our next president and suggest some answers.
February 21, 2016: Much of the hyperbole over the Supreme Court’s stay of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is making a mountain out of a molehill. The CPP is very significant politically, legally, but its CO2 goals are trivial in the grand scheme of sustainable consumption patterns, technological capability, stated goals (not commitments) at Conference of Parties global climate talks. The CPP targets are a piece of cake. And I say this as someone that is not a techno-optimist in the sense that technology alone will not solve all socioeconomic problems.
Dr. King’s new article in American Scientist (November/December 2015 issue).
May 26, 2015: This is a guest blog for The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. In the blog I discuss the ongoing lawsuit between the Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the allocation of water rights in Texas’ Brazos River Basin. One of the issues is whether or not electric power generators should have guaranteed access to water during droughts even if they do not have water rights more senior than some farmers. I also close with numbers about how much water is consumed for power generation in Texas, and the quantities are much smaller than stated in the Texas State Water Plan.