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Climate of Pragmatism Embracing Technology to Save the Planet.

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Presentation on theme: "Climate of Pragmatism Embracing Technology to Save the Planet."— Presentation transcript:

1 Climate of Pragmatism Embracing Technology to Save the Planet

2 Who We Are 1. Life-long environmentalists, 2008 Time Magazine Heroes of the Environment 2. Green critics of cap and trade and Kyoto in The Death of Environmentalism (2004) 3. Break Through could be the most important thing to happen to environmentalism since Silent Spring. Wired Magazine. 4. Breakthrough Institute is 10 person research and analysis staff focused on energy and climate funded by four philanthropic foundations. 5. Focus on making clean energy cheap to displace fossil. 6. Reports in the U.S. on Asia clean tech, innovation, manufacturing. Prescient. Time

3 20 Years of Failure on Global Warming Kyoto nations themselves saw energy and emissions rise. Cap and trade failed for the fourth time, despite support from utility industry. Kyoto treaty process is dead there will be no United Nations treaty to mandate emissions reductions. Greens/UN exaggerated readiness of renewables and efficiency, opposed nuclear. Strong political opposition to raising energy prices at all, much less the difference between fossil energy and clean energy. UN Conference in Copenhagen, 2009

4 Number of green jobs President Obama promised to create: 3 million Number of green energy efficiency jobs that environmentalists* said would be created through the stimulus/cap and trade: 900,000 Number of efficiency jobs created by stimulus: 13,000 Percentage of buildings in the U.S. they said would be retrofitted in 10 years: 100 Effect cap and trade would have had on employment, according to Obama Administration government sources (EPA and CBO): Negative to highly negative Number of jobs lost since 2008: 8 million *Center for American Progress and Green for All

5 U.S. Falling Behind While U.S. congratulated itself for tiny number of installation jobs, manufacturing moved to Asia and Europe. China, Japan, Korea will spend $50 billion per year. U.S. spending $4 bi on R&D. Creating manufacturing base requires sustained public investments. U.S. firms including Applied Materials, GE moving R&D facilities to China.

6 Solar PV

7 20 Year Decline in Environmental Attitudes


9 Where environmentalism went wrong


11 [A]ll life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. Rachel Carson Silent Spring, 1962



14 Massaccio, 1425


16 Not enough room for all of us? People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people… Would we ever get to our hotel? All three of us were, frankly frightened… …India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980," Paul Ehrlich, Population Bomb, 1968.

17 It was almost like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation. The truth about the climate crisis is an inconvenient one that means we are going to have to change the way we live our lives. Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, 2006 New Orleans, 2005

18 This narrative is identical to the narrative of a depressed person.

19 Aaron Beck, psychologist, left, founder of cognitive therapy. Beck found that depressed people share three core beliefs: 1. My world is bleak 2. Im no good. 3. My future is hopeless. Cognitive therapy teaches people to talk back to these depressing over- generalizations and re- narrate their lives.

20 A more accurate story



23 "An ape's fingers are long and good for hanging from branches, while the human hand (right) has a long, strong thumb that makes the hand more versatile" (Joyce 2010). Credit: Maggie Starbard/NPR Technology is Sacred

24 Not a fall from harmony, a rise from radical insecurity.

25 Norman Borlaug, father of green revolution Agronomist and advocate. Nemesis to population bombers (e.g. Ehrlich). Saved hundreds of millions of lives. Nobel Prize, 1970 But was not one man alone – governments, NGOs, agribusinesses and philanthropies worked together over decades.

26 Failure of imagination lies behind view of hard natural limits.

27 Technology is Game Changing Open-Pollinated Double Cross Biotechnology Single-Cross Hybrids Average U.S. Corn Yields Bushels/Acre Hybrid genetics & biotechnology have driven a five- fold increase in average U.S. corn yields since 1940. Data Source: USDA Credit: Richard Hamilton, Ceres

28 Borlaug in Mexico 1950s

29 Cultural turn against modernization, science, and technology starts in the 1960s.




33 Sierra Club, New Left were in favor of nuclear power in late fifties early sixties. By end of sixties they both rejected nuclear power by end of sixties. Nuclear power seen as part of Cold War. Our monster cities, based historically on the need for mass labor, might now be humanized, broken into smaller communities, powered by nuclear energy, arranged according to community decision. Tom Hayden, Port Huron Statement, SDS, 1962

34 "[If] nuclear power were clean, safe, economic, assured of ample fuel, and socially benign per se, it would still be unattractive because of the political implications of the kind of energy economy it would lock us into." Amory Lovins, Foreign Affairs, 1976

35 Anti-nuclear movement succeeded in preventing new nuclear plants in U.S. and Europe by late seventies. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Economies became more energy efficient… …but energy consumption grew. Electricity grew 66 percent between 1984 and 2000 Result was coal-building boom in the U.S. and Europe.

36 Traditional Environmentalism Human hubris is our downfall. Humans violate an external harmonious nature. Must constrain human power, wealth, technology, consumption. Not everybody on earth can live like we live. Ecological Innovation Humans are natural, technology is sacred, and what we do is natural. Ecological problems are unintended consequences of development. We need technology so 9 billion humans can live decent lives while protecting the environment. Hubris is believing we can create a world without unintended consequences.

37 What does the future hold?




41 Rising energy consumption correlated with longer life, better health, less disease, and greater freedom. Number of people living on $2/day declined from 4 billion in 1982 to 2 billion today. More than 500 million Chinese raised out of dire poverty in less than 20 years. Coal is cheapest energy for fastest development.

42 Are we suffering from too much technology or not enough?

43 World is decarbonizing just not quickly enough

44 Achieving 450 ppm of carbon dioxide (the global target) would require one of the following: Five Cape Winds per day, Five Mojave Solar Electric Generation System (the largest in the world) per day, One full sized carbon capture and storage plant per day, or One million new solar roofs per day. One large (5 GW) nuclear plant every five days. It currently takes the U.S. about 10 years to do any of the above. Clearly, we need technological breakthroughs if we hope to scale clean energy quickly.

45 The only two countries to rapidly move to clean energy were France and Sweden. They did so largely through the direct deployment of nuclear power.

46 1970: Launch of nuclear electricity program Decision to specialize in pressurized water reactor French government responds to oil shocks with rapid deployment of nuclear plants First nuclear reactor becomes operational Government tightens control on oil imports 1973 oil crisis 1979 oil crisis

47 1973 oil crisis 1979 oil crisis Three Mile Island Nuclear meltdown 1965 decision to increase nuclear capacity Legislation ensures proper nuclear waste management Respond to oil crises with rapid nuclear deploymen t and phase-out of oil Public disapproval of nuclear prompts phase-out legislation Begin encouragin g use of biofuel

48 Historical Trends in U.S. Energy Intensity and Energy Demand Declining Energy Intensity Rising Energy Consumption

49 Jevons Economy-wide energy efficiency is good for increasing economy, not for reducing energy consumption Jevons Paradox: More energy efficiency = more energy consumption 1.Rebound Effect 2.GDP Growth (Khazzoom- Brookes)

50 How about nuclear power?

51 Pro-Nuclear Greens Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalogue, James Lovelock, Gaia hypothesis, Greenpeace UK head Stephen Tyndall, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, and the list is growing.

52 Even people not much worried about the supposed climate damage done by carbon emissions should see the wisdom cheaper electricity, less dependence on foreign sources of energy of Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander's campaign to commit the country to building 100 more nuclear power plants in 20 years. George Will, Washington Post, March 2010

53 One of the greatest dangers the world faces is the possibility that a vocal minority of antinuclear activists could prevent phase-out of coal emissions. -- James Hansen, climate scientist, NASA



56 Support for nuclear power may be more stable than some might think. A majority of Americans believe nuclear power plants in the U.S. are safe, and attitudes toward increasing their numbers do not appear to have changed in comparison with a previous measure 10 years ago. Gallup, April 4, 2011

57 Pro-Technology Green Agenda Make clean energy (including nuclear) radically cheaper (and safer) so it can replace fossil energy. Reduce non-carbon greenhouse gases (e.g., methane, black carbon) Increase agricultural yields through GMOs on big farms to reduce pressure on forests. Urbanization good for people and the environment Desalinization technologies to increase freshwater Engineer new fish, grow meat in labs.

58 What is the role for government?

59 New Platforms: Railroads, telegraphs, sewage system, potable water, highways, the Internet, electrical grid.

60 Military Procurement: radios, microchips, jet turbines, GPS, lasers, solar panels, nuclear reactors.

61 R&D: Agricultural land grant colleges, National Institutes of Health, DARPA.

62 Energy: Hydro-electric dams, wind turbines, natural gas turbines, solar panels, and nuclear.

63 Post-Partisan Power Proposal by Breakthrough, AEI, Brookings Focus on energy, not global warming National security and economic growth Focus should be on making clean energy cheap, not on making fossil energy expensive. $25 billion/year for innovation. The death of cap and trade doesn't have to mean the death of climate policy. The alternative revolves around much more, and much better organized, financing for clean energy research. It's an idea with a growing list of supporters, a list that even includes conservatives -- most of whom opposed cap and trade." David Leonhardt, New York Times, October 13, 2011

64 An Innovation Agenda All low-carbon technologies need innovation: nuclear, solar, batteries, biofuels, electric cars. a.Increase R&D. ARPA-E. Hubs. Labs. b. Subsidies for new technology not old. More like military procurement than crop supports. Instead of subsidizing yesterdays energy, lets invest in tomorrows. President Obama, SOTU, 2011

65 Power of History Where Good Technologies Come From Breakthrough report Throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. Thats what planted the seeds for the Internet. Thats what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS. Just think of all the good jobs – from manufacturing to retail – that have come from those breakthroughs. President Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address



68 Getting to Yes Not going to happen overnight. Climate wars poisoned the well even clean energy is polarized. But the fight over energy innovation is the right one to have. Politically difficult to attack or cut popular investments in energy R&D.

69 Thank You Prescient. Time

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