Baylor Geosciences O.T. Hayward Distinguished Lecture Series

March 26, 2018
Thursday, April 5th - 6:30 PM - BSB D110

Dr. Daniel Shrag - Harvard University Center for the Environment

Energy, Climate, and Innovation

The last 200 years of human society has seen a remarkable explosion in the use of energy, allowing
first the growth of the industrial revolution, followed by a transition in some countries to a post-industrial
economy. A relatively small number of energy technologies are at the core of the support for the
world’s economic growth, with more than 80% of the total coming from fossil fuels. At the same time,
there has been a growing realization that the world’s energy technologies have led to a series of
environmental challenges, including local and regional issues of air and water pollution, and the global
challenge of climate change. These environmental challenges have driven many to call for an energy
transition to new technologies, including renewable sources such as wind and solar. At the same time,
the world remains firmly reliant on fossil energy sources, with no end in sight to sustained demand,
particularly for oil and natural gas. I will discuss the history of energy technology and review the
energy systems of the world to understand possible trajectories in the future of energy technology in
the context of a changing climate. We will examine the different timescales of climate change, and
what it is likely to mean for current and future generations. A variety of strategies will be discussed for
meeting the world’s energy needs, preserving economic prosperity and security, while protecting
human and natural systems from climate impacts. We will also explore what strategies might be
required if the impacts of climate change are larger than we expect.
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