Research Papers: Energy Systems for Sustainable Development

Impact of upstream oil extraction and environmental public health: A review of the evidence

By Jill E. Johnston, Esther Lim, Hannah Roh

Science of the Total Environment


Upstream oil extraction, which includes exploration and operation to bring crude oil to the surface, frequently occurs near human populations. There are approximately 40,000 oil fields globally and 6 million people that live or work nearby. Oil extraction can impact local soil, water, and air, which in turn can influence community health. As oil resources are increasingly being extracted near human populations, we highlight the current scope of scientific knowledge regarding potential community health impacts with the aim to help identify scientific gaps and inform policy discussions surrounding oil drilling operations. In this review, we assess the wide range of both direct and indirect impacts that oil drilling operations can have on human health, with specific emphasis on understanding the body of scientific literature to assess potential environmental and health risks to residents living near active onshore oil extraction sites. From an initial literature search capturing 2236 studies, we identified 22 human studies, including 5 occupational studies, 5 animal studies, 6 experimental studies and 31 oil drilling-related exposure studies relevant to the scope of this review. The current evidence suggests potential health impacts due to exposure to upstream oil extraction, such as cancer, liver damage, immunodeficiency, and neurological symptoms. Adverse impacts to soil, air, and water quality in oil drilling regions were also identified. Improved characterization of exposures by community health studies and further study of the chemical mixtures associated with oil extraction will be critical to determining the full range of health risks to communities living near oil extraction.

Optimizing Content Dissemination in Vehicular Networks with Radio Heterogeneity

By Joon Ahn, Maheswaran Sathiamoorthy, Bhaskar Krishnamachari, Fan Bai, Lin Zhang

IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing


Disseminating shared information to many vehicles could
incur significant access fees if it relies only on unicast cellular communications. We consider the problem of efficient content dissemination over a vehicular network, in which vehicles are equipped with two kinds of radios: a high-cost low-bandwidth, long-range cellular radio, and a free high-bandwidth short-range radio. We formulate and solve an optimization problem to maximize content dissemination from the infrastructure to vehicles within a predetermined deadline while minimizing the cost associated with communicating over the cellular connection. We examine numerically the tradeoffs between cost, delay and system utility in the optimum regime. We find that, in the optimum regime,
(a) system utility is more sensitive to the cost budget when the allowed
delay for the dissemination is not large, (b) the system requires relatively
smaller cost budget as more vehicles participate and more delay is
allowed, (c) when the cost is very important, it is better not to spread
the content if it needs small delay. We also develop a polynomial-time
algorithm to obtain the optimal discrete solution needed in practice.
Finally, we verify our analysis using real GPS traces of 632 taxis in
Beijing, China.

Transdisciplinary Systems Engineering: Exploiting Disciplinary Convergence to Address Grand Challenges

By Azad M. Madni

IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine


We are living in an era driven by exponentials and defined by hyperconnectivity, growing complexity, and increasing convergence among disciplines. In response to these trends, and at the urging of the research community, systems engineering (SE) is undergoing a timely transformation that includes developing formal underpinnings and reaching out to other disciplines to make connections and identify synergies. The impetus for this transformation stems, in part, from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges, which are mostly complex systems problems requiring contributions from multiple disciplines. Against this backdrop, this article defines various convergence types and the integrative discipline of transdisciplinary SE (TSE). TSE, enabled, in large part, by the growing convergence of engineering with other disciplines, has the potential to achieve unprecedented advances in both the thinking and the methods needed to address complex sociotechnical system problems. Using an NAE Grand Challenge problem as an example, this article illustrates the relevance of TSE and the opportunities available to the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society (SMCS) to contribute to this important area through collaboration between its technical committees and working groups from sister societies, such as the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).

Organizational Responses to Public and Private Politics: An Analysis of Climate Change Activists and U.S. Oil and Gas Firms

By Shon R. Hiatt, Jake B. Grandy, Brandon H. Lee

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences


We explore how activists’ public and private politics elicit different organizational responses. Using data on U.S. petroleum companies from 1982 to 2010, we investigate how climate change activists serving as witnesses at congressional hearings and engaging in firm protests influenced firms’ internal and external responses. We find that public politics induced internally focused practice adoption, whereas private politics induced externally focused framing activities.We also find that private and public politics had an interaction effect: as firms faced more private political pressure, they were less likely to respond to public political pressures; similarly, as firms faced greater public political pressure, they were less likely to respond to private political pressures. The results suggest that activists can have a significant impact on firm behavior depending on the mix of private and public political tactics they engage in. We discuss the implications of our study for social movement research, organization theory, and nonmarket strategy.

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