Climate change: Do we have what it takes?


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Climate change: Do we have what it takes?

  1. 1. Climate change: Do we have what it takes? Jyri Engeström Iʼll adapt from Saul Griffith ( The biggest engineering challenge ever faced by mankind. Also the biggest social, economic and political challenge in history.
  2. 2. I met Saul in 2005. Ulla and I had spent all our money on plane tickets to San Francisco. Without having ever met, we got an offer to sleep on the floor of his workshop. He & Arwen were such fun that we started hanging out with them...
  3. 3. He became a friend and companion, visiting Finland...
  4. 4. I didn’t know this at the outset, but it turned out Saul is also one of the most brilliant scientist/ inventors taking on climate change. I have learned a lot from him, and I want to summarize his game plan to you today.
  5. 5. No longer about stopping climate change. "We are now working to stop worse climate change – or much-worse- than-worse climate change." The starting point is thus: we’re beyond “stopping” climate change. The question facing us now is, how bad is it going to get?
  6. 6. Step 1: Temperature choice Choose the temperature at which you would like to stabilize the earth. This is the greatest ethical choice of our century.
  7. 7. +4.5° Entire cities and countries lost to sea level +3.5° 20-50% Species lost +3.0° 1-4 BN people face water shortages +2.0° 15-40% Species lost +1.5° 10% Species lost Make your pick.
  8. 8. If you wait until you can feel the temperature, it's already too late. The single thing that makes this most difficult is, we humans are not programmed to work in the required way. We naturally respond to stimulus from the environment. But it we wait until we can feel the temperature, it’s already going to be too late to do anything about it.
  9. 9. The increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the main reason the temperature of the earth is rising. The reason we’re in a hurry is, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is growing at an increasing pace.
  10. 10. Letʼs pick... Let’s pick to stabilize the temperature of the earth at plus 2 degrees. It would be highly preferable to go lower, but this is more aggressive than some studies believe is realistic.
  11. 11. Step 2: Translate into energy per capita Calculate how much energy each individual on the planet can use, given the means available. Given our goal of circa 450 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, how much energy can we consume given the current means?
  12. 12. Here’s Saul’s calculation: 2,255 watts per person.
  13. 13. For comparison, here’s an average of how much we consume today. In Europe, an average person consumes 5,400 watts every year. In North America, people consume over double that.
  14. 14. Cut your energy consumption by 50% So, we here in Europe need to cut our energy consumption to under half the current amount. Most likely, the people in this audience consume much more than the average, so you need to cut even more.
  15. 15. Step 3: Ready? Begin. Change your life. Change the world. Let’s get started.
  16. 16. First, measure your current energy consumption. You can do this online. For instance at, a calculator developed by Saul.
  17. 17. Second, build a goal of your new lifestyle.
  18. 18. For many of us, reducing air travel is going to be the biggest part.
  19. 19. Here’s Saul’s travel quota for 2010: - Once every year from San Francisco to the East coast. - Once every three years from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, to visit family. - Once every 4 years to Europe.
  20. 20. “Humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical, and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problems for the next half- century.” Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, Science, August 13, 2004 Replacing existing carbon dioxide emitters with clean energy is required on a massive scale. Physicist Robert Socolow and ecologist Stephen Pacala, Co-Directors of The Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton University. Read more: 0,9171,1604890,00.html#ixzz0icpRbJIM
  21. 21. Industrial capacity is doable: 9 Nokia phones every second. We need to do this scale of manufacturing for clean energy production. Aluminum cans -> solar thermal collectors Cell Phones and computers -> solar cells Cars and trucks -> wind turbines Oil wells -> geothermal plants Coal plants -> nuclear plants We did bring online 6TW of energy capacity between 1980 and 2005. All that in only 25 years. This can be done.
  22. 22. The bigger challenge: Massive change in mindsets. Even with new energy generation breakthroughs, consumption habits must change. Globally.
  23. 23. This is where the Internet comes into the picture. It is our single most important tool in fighting climate change. I’ve started to work with Greenpeace on this.
  24. 24. Eat less and more healthily. Exercise more. Spend more time with my family. Live closer together. Spend less time commuting. Less business travel. Have higher quality, better designed products. Breathe cleaner air. Drink cleaner water. It will only work if we change the rhetoric from “less” to “more”. A low energy lifestyle enables us to accomplish the things we want most in life.
  25. 25. "My new life actually looks a lot better for my health" We need living examples.
  26. 26. James Lovelock: Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9. "We all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn't know what to do about it." Lovelock said this in a Guardian interview: http:// scienceofclimatechange.climatechange
  27. 27. But once the war was under way, “everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do. It was one long holiday. So when I think of the impending crisis now, I think in those terms. A sense of purpose - that's what people want." Wondering what is the purpose of your life? Sometimes the hardest questions have the most simple answers. (Survival?)
  28. 28. Game Plan: Saulʼs full talk: Saul_Griffith_Climate_Change_Recalculated Please dowload the PDF and watch the video. The talk is the full one. If you prefer short format, see Saul’s latest TED talk. Thanks for your time!