Responsibly improving access to the creative potential of energy is the grand challenge of the twenty-first century.
My good friend and mentor Roger Duncan, the former CEO of Austin Energy, who was listed in a 2005 issue of Businessweek alongside Tony Blair and Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the world’s most important people because of his work on reducing power sector emissions, refers to this future as one in which we have sentient-appearing machines and buildings.
grand challenges, concluded that to solve our energy problem we need to do three related things: (1) inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, (2) develop energy supplies that won’t run out, and (3) solve global climate change.3 These are daunting indeed but also invite new opportunities for investment, innovation, and advancement.
we need some combination of new production, increased energy access, smarter solutions, and a cultural emphasis on efficiency and conservation.
in the long run, the environmental solution and the economic solution are the same.
If we shift our time horizon from the immediate future to the coming decades and include the costs of failing to protect the environment, then the distinctions disappear, making our false choice between the economy and environment irrelevant.
Near-term, local thinking will not begin to solve this problem.
There’s no such thing as other people’s kids. All the world’s kids are everyone’s responsibility.
For many people, the idea of getting away from high levels of oil consumption and individual car ownership is scary. But from my daughter’s perspective, it would be liberating.
At its core, energy is nothing more and nothing less than a way to change the order of the world. Energy is magical. After all, it made the world as we know it, and it will probably remake the world many times over.
progress. To help foster our children’s ability to solve our resource challenges, we need a new approach to energy education.6 A scientific study noted that people fall for logical fallacies when believing misinformation and rejecting the scientific evidence of climate science.7 That means we need an emphasis on critical thinking so that we can more effectively distinguish fact from fiction. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education teaches analytical thinking, but we also need liberal arts, which gives us critical thinking. We also need fine arts, which gives us creative thinking that we can use to seek new solutions. A common joke goes like this: the earth without art is just “eh.” In that spirit, we don’t just need STEM, we need STEAM, where the A could represent the “arts” from fine arts and liberal arts.
Adopting a cleaner suite of options while increasing energy access and letting go of our dirtier past is our critical path forward.