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Sustainable Energy - Without the BS (Director's Cut)

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ryan Woodard.

Open to non-BAS; please contact Ryan Woodard ( or 221383) if you would like to attend.

Energy and climate change – they’re in the news, they’re ‘huge’. Consumption is huge. Economic growth is huge. Our population density is huge. CO2 pollution? Huge! Potential of renewable power? Huge! Nuclear power? That’s huge too – and hugely costly to clean up… How to fix all these problems? Well, if only everyone turned off their mobile phone chargers and switched to Powergen’s ‘Green’ tariff, we’d be well on our way to a solution. Oh yes, and let’s remember to drive hydrogen-powered cars, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’ll help. And don’t forget magnetic levitation, that’ll eliminate friction. And if you must burn fossil fuels, good old BP can neutralize your CO2 emissions if you pay them just 6 euros per tonne.


“Every little bit helps!”


To understand these ‘huge’ issues, we need numbers, not adjectives. And we need numbers that are simple, human-sized, and memorable. No millions, no billions, no Terawatt hours, no exajoules. In this talk I’ll present simple back-of-envelope calculations to see how our energy consumption stacks up compared with conceivable sustainable production.

In this repeat presentation, I’ll recycle material from the first talk, add some fresh jokes, and spend some time discussing plans for 2050 that do add up.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey series.

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