January 6, 2021 and the Coming (R)evolution

The date January 6, 2021 will be forever imprinted on the minds of those old enough to appreciate the gravity of the situation and those who recognize the events for what they were. I am personally struck by the strangeness of it all, and it’s difficult not to see the events in abstract terms because wrapping one’s head around the concrete is more than challenging. The event itself is decidedly concrete for those directly involved – the protesters, the police, the legislators, and Capitol Hill staff.  They will remember the day in much more real terms and it will affect their everyday lives. I imagine that some of the protesters truly believed that they were fomenting a revolution by intervening in the process to certify the next president of the United States. As we know, no actual revolution did occur; however, the events of January 6, 2021 have undoubtedly sowed the seeds for a different kind of revolution. 

The 117th Congress which began on January 3, 2021 will have a lot on its plate. January 6th will likely set in motion a different kind of revolution wherein legislators and the Executive Branch will feel a greater sense of urgency to implement large changes. Some of these changes will directly connect to circumstances that led individuals to storm the Capitol and to the actions themselves, and others will be driven by elected officials (and their constituents) believing that the 117th Congress needs to represent change. 

The Mendota Group’s business is focused on energy which, at the moment, seems trivial compared to what is happening in our nation. Similar to the abstractness of the chaos that enveloped D.C. on January 6th, energy is an abstract concept. For most, certainly in the developed world, energy and its associated benefits and costs are taken for granted. Despite efforts among practitioners like The Mendota Group to elevate awareness of the role that energy plays in our lives, and the need to actively engage with “it”, energy’s importance is fairly low on the list of priorities. 

Another abstract concept that is very closely intertwined with energy is the topic of global warming.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body that assesses the science related to climate change (aka “global warming”), declared in its 2018 “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C”[1] that global temperatures are increasing, that this increase relates to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that significant efforts will be required to limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7° F). However, the report states both optimistically and ominously that “limiting warming to 1.5 °C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society.” The IPCC’s point is that the planet is getting warmer, that this will already bring significant change to the planet, but that we can arrest the inexorable rise in temperatures (and thus the impacts) with our actions. 

I will confess that the concept of global warming remains very abstract to me. Ironically, the chaos in D.C. on January 6th is more concrete, having worked for several years in the hallowed halls that protesters entered.  None of us knows what the 117th Congress will bring. But, I suspect that it will be revolutionary in its own right. Among the items that lawmakers will debate is how to make our relationship with energy more concrete and how our nation (and the rest of the world) can engage in efforts to both help slow the rise in temperatures and prepare for the changes that even a 1.5 °C global temperature increase will bring.  

The Mendota Group’s little slice of that world connects to ways that we can improve the efficiency with which energy is used and reduce the greenhouse gases our energy sources produce. We will seek to include small entries each week to chronicle some of the changes that are occurring and connect those changes to our everyday lives. Many of our entries will still relate to the somewhat arcane industry in which we operate but our hope is that the information will remain pertinent to those outside our industry.  The events of January 6, 2021 are now part of our history. What they will mean for January 7th and beyond is anyone’s guess. I’m betting that whatever happens, it will be (r)evolutionary. 

[1] The report is technically called “Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty”.