With that in mind, here are some mundane reflections on the last two weeks or so:
1) I wrote what should be my final ever (ever ever) sit down exam at the end of May. The subject was philosophy of science and, despite some frustrations, I enjoyed spending time on something that is outside of my normal field of expertise. I have now effectively completed my coursework requirements for the PhD -- both compulsory and elective credits -- and should be able to concentrate on the research side of things. Basically, I've got two years to finish the remaining two chapters in my dissertation and thus, thankfully, in a pretty good position at the moment.
2) My final article on natural gas and the environment was published at The Energy Collective. Having taken on short- and long-term carbon emissions, followed by demands placed on freshwater resources, this one looked at whether fracking can cause earthquakes? (Short answer: Yes, but you'll hardly notice them.) The issues surrounding natural gas and fracking are obviously very contentious. Important research is ongoing and I certainly don't expect everyone to be fully swayed by my articles and arguments. However, having spent a lot of time researching these matters -- giving primacy to the peer-reviewed scientific literature in the process -- the following paragraph provides an accurate summary of my overall impressions: "The takeaway is consistent with the overarching theme of my series. Yes, there are environmental trade-offs to securing the benefits of fracking and natural gas at large. Placed into the right context, however, these are relatively benign and often much better than the immediate alternative. Economics teaches us that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but fracking looks like a pretty good deal to me."
3) Not everyone was happy with the above article and I was involved in some amusing (not to mention ironic) Twitter spats. I'll summarise one of these for you:
@grant_mcdermott: "Does fracking case earthquakes? (link) Yes, but they're so small that you won't notice them."
@LoveCanal2020: "Whatevs! Shell sponsored that post. You're just a shill!"
@grant_mcdermott: "Ad hominem much? Actually, Shell have nothing to do with the content of my article. By all means though, don't address any facts."
@LoveCanal2020: "Meta-analysis Mumbo-jumbo! LOUD NOISES!"
@grant_mcdermott: "Yes. Science. As opposed to anecdotes, wild accusations and LIBERAL use of CAPITAL LETTERS."
@LoveCanal2020: "Criticize my creative use of capital letters, eh? Typical ad hominem!"
@grant_mcdermott: "Ad hominem?? I criticised your emotional outburst in lieu of actual facts."
@LoveCanal2020: "Still counts as ad hominem. #philosophy101"