Something that often goes missing in conversations on, much less debates about, what to do about climate change is optimism. If, for example, a discussion of the economics of the transition to an industrial model from the agricultural age had occured, there would have been great gnashing of teeth but a convincing case could have been made, though likely with some strict limitations toward eventual consequences, if these could have been imagined. The point is, the same dynamics are at play when trying to imagine the transition away from a dependence on fossil fuels; we're limited by how things work now - travel, food production, growth, defense - and that present bias makes any transition all the more unimaginable, optimism evaporates and we choose to do nothing as though it's an
preferable option. The next Anthropocene Lecture takes on this very question:
The lives of six out of the seven billion people now living on Earth are dependent on a combination of technology and fossil fuels. Green Revolution crops have greatly increased food production, but only when supplied with plentiful fossil fuel inputs. Supporting an even larger world population without using fossil fuels will pose a major technological challenge. Transitioning away from fossil fuels on a global scale is a huge challenge but deploying new technologies is our best hope. This lecture assembles a variety of data to present a coherent, quantitative view of both the challenges and the opportunities. It concludes by examining the current state of the art of using markets to drive the transition to carbon-free energy systems.
These are the discussions we need to have, led by the folks who need to lead them. Come be a part of the discussion. Knowledge is power and the switch gets flipped at 7 pm Thursday Oct. 9 in the Chapel. Free and open to the public.