It is axiomatic that when 50 people get together to talk about something, sparks are likely to fly -- our sustainable energy fishbowl proved the point. At the Zürich 150 event, we were invited to pretend that a sustainable energy future was ours in 2050 and talk about how that happened. One senior Corporate Solutions executive opened by commenting that such an outcome should provide us the same level of creature comforts -- warm place to have the event, plenty of light, convenient transportation -- as we enjoy now. That was accepted, but how to get there was less than unanimous. Two schools of thought quickly gelled. One held that technology would rescue us and that we can invent our way to using more, but sustainable, energy. Another felt that by definition, sustainable meant less consumption, so prices of energy really had to rise to induce a change in behavior. Some even felt that changes in lifestyle, not just in energy use, held the key.
So around the "how to get there" questions -- along either the produce-more or consume-less path -- debate bounced all over the place. A number of participants felt it a question of education. We'd consume less if we understood more how much energy our flat screen TVs are actually using. The education system could be managed to raise a generation of more energy-conscious youth.
And yes, there was a climate change denier or two who were very skeptical about the whole project, arguing that the newest evidence was showing that we could continue to pour carbon into the atmosphere as we liked. All of which, when the affiliations of the various speakers were taken into account, proved nothing better than the old adage: where you stand depends on where you sit.
Category: Climate/natural disasters, Sustainable energy