On Friday, I went to a seminar on climate change by Dr Woodrow Clark II, Nobel Prize winner in 2007.
|Dr Woodrow Clark II|
The seminar was to start at 10:30 and as I had nothing great to do at the Faculty (no lectures on Fridays and dissertation not yet started!), I reached at the Paul Octave Wiehe Auditorium at 10:00 with the forestry students since nobody in my class was willing to come. We were the first one to be in the auditorium and by 10:30, it was almost full to capacity with students(mainly faculty of science and engineering, only forestry class from FoA), lecturers, NGOs.
The VIPs came right on time, that is 10:30. At first glance, Dr Clark appeared more like a hunter than a Doctor with his hat and informal looks. That really surprised me! :) Then the PRO of the university introduced the guests who were Dr Clark, another person accompanying him (whom I forgot the name), The pro-chancellor and vice-chancellor of the university. The VC, Proffessor Morgan welcomed Dr Clark and after him the person accompanying Dr Clark gave a brief biography of the Nobel Prize winner. From what I've understood, he has 3 Masters degree (because he did not know what he wanted to do) and a Ph.D.
Finally, time for listening to Dr Clark himself! The first thing I noticed is that he likes to joke. He explained why he has done his Masters Degree thrice and he has studied various subjects including economics. He is currently the founder of Clark Strategic Partners (CSP), an environmental and renewable energy consulting firm to guide, advice and implement public and private clients worldwide - specifically on sustainable development projects for communities.
He explained about how we are all concerned by climate change ( greenhouse effect, global warming and all these stuffs). What he wanted us to understand is that wherever we are living in this world, we have one thing in common and that is climate change. We have to stop polluting our environment, not tomorrow, not today, but now itself!
The first question he asked to the audience is what should we do with the increasing number of cars in the country leading to traffic jam everyday? The answer in USA is to build another highway. But Dr Clark says he has proposed to use a kind of rail working with solar energy above our roads and we will not even have to travel by car or pollute the environment. Honestly, I liked the idea because I have never thought about that before. His point was that we have to find simple solutions with the options that we have without causing harm to the environment.
The next PowerPoint slide showed us that due to the our actions, the sea level is rising and this trend is expected to continue. Then something more alarming: our fuel reserve...
Oil - 40.3 years
Coal - 216 years
Gas - 61 years
Uranium - 61 years
As these figures indicate, we do not have much resources left. Dr Clark said that we should not invest in nuclear power since uranium will be available only for 61 years. So, it's not wise to invest in nuclear power plants when we know that we will not have uranium forever.
After that, Dr Clark explained about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Industrial revolution (now we are going towards the 3rd industrial revolution, that is using efficient renewable energy central plants and do sustainable development and planning). What I was surprised to know is that the first Hybrid Car was invented in 1903. But why did it disappear?? The reason is simple! If we had started to use hybrid cars from that time, there would be no company selling oil! So, just to make profit, these people have decided to bury the idea of going forward with the hybrid car...
|Hybrid car in early 1900's|
Sustainable communities exist in different countries where they are going towards the 3rd industrial revolution. Examples of sustainable communities are found in countries like:
1. Germany - leads the world in the successful use of solar panels
|Solar panels on houses in Germany|
2. Santa Monica - Solar covered parking lot
|Santa Monica Civic Centre|
3. Piemonte Regione, Italy
|Solar photovoltaic farms to be built in Italy|
4. Japan: Pal Town Josai-no-mori
|Homes with solar panels in Japan|
5. Google Recharging car (1.6 MW) solar campus - Goal: carbon neutral by end of 07
|In 2007, Google added a 1.6-megawatt solar array to the roofs of its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters.|
To conclude Dr Clark said that sustainability is affordable. Vision of sustainable infrastructures are wind generated electricity, hydro power electricity, solar energy, hydrogen and fuel cells. However, the was no mention of biomass as alternative source of energy.
At the end of the seminar, there was one question for which according to me nobody had an answer.. Can Mauritius go towards the 3rd industrial revolution? From what I have understood, Dr Clark implies that even though it is expensive, we can adopt it if we buy these solar panel in huge quantities and get it at a cheaper price. Despite that, I can say that nobody in the audience would agree on that!
|Vision of sustainable infrastructures|