tv Book Discussion on Greening the Global Economy and Climate Change CSPAN December 14, 2015 6:00am-7:31am EST
the guy last night i was debating. he said free market, everything. free market everything. the fact is the market can't handle this problem. so let's say we just love markets but if we also love planet earth continuing there has to be government action. it has to be done well, it has to be done judiciously. there will be massive business opportunities. i myself, my friend are in the business together trying to profit from opportunities for building a clean energy economy. and, of course, that will become the abuses like there always are but there's also a lot of government success, and against the fossil fuel companies that are a massive barrier. if you want to say just leave it to the private market, well then the fossil fuel companies are just going to dominate and we will destroy the planet.
>> my good friend brockton and i discussed this particular question many times and i will answer it as a physicist rather than an economist which means i'm going to jump to the editor is. we know what the future is. the future where we don't solve the problem is a future where the government is doing everything. it's telling you where to live. i you where to live. i just wanted to do triage on all the major cities because they are all going to be flooded out. we are not going to be safe -- able to say the florida keys. can you save miami? it turns out you can't, it's on porous limestone see can't build sequels. can you save galveston? know. can you say houston? maybe. can you save new orleans? that will be a big question. someone will have to make a decision as to where that money gets spent, where you can live, where you can't live. the only reason that people are
afraid of the government action needs to solve the problem is because they don't believe there is a problem. if they believe that the world was suffering from a progressive and fatal disease, if, for instance, their daughter were diagnosed with an utterly treatable but otherwise progressive and fatal disease, and 99 doctors told them if you do these straightforward, not simple but straightforward steps, your daughter will be cured, and if you don't she's going to live in terrible agony, gets worse and worse decade after decade, none of them would go searching for the last doctor to convince them, this is fun, happens to everybody. so it is the denial of the reality of the science that drives all of the of the politics. >> thank you.
i broke it. [laughter] okay, perfect. first, i would just like to thank the three of you for putting on this very informative talk, and i've heard a lot of talk tonight about how to slow climate change and what we can do now. in light of this u.n. climate meetings and talks happening, are we starting to look at the other side, or all these countries come together and starting to think about what's going to happen 25 years from now, 50 years from now, when hundred years from now? what's happening with the pacific islands who don't have the big governments that can get bailed out again and again and again? have the start to be any talks? >> you mean about are taking people against impact as opposed to solving the problem?
>> right. just thinking realistically. >> obviously both things are going on but, it's certainly not going to come if which is going to protect against the impacts, it's almost an impossible task, or if virtue is in a possible if virtue is an impossible task. focusing on yes, we want to great protection against the impacts. there is still enough time, as joe was just saying, there is still enough time to transform our energy system starting now. and so i would say of course we want to create modes of production. but that's a limited. so the investments needed take place now to begin bringing the global economy, which happens to be the title of my book so i hope you all take it, too. i just got back from india a week and half ago and i was giving lectures on the subject, and a level of recognition of
the problem in india, even among university intellectual types, is a very low. it's not like they were disagreeing with me. it's like they just haven't given it much thought, if you think about a lot of other things that affect human well being. but what we need to be able to convince people in india, in india, happens to be a very important case because we're looking at a billion and a half people. and india grows at five, 6% a year they're going to increase their emissions fivefold in the next 20 years. what we need to do is tell people everywhere, india, the united states, e.g. islands, we have a solution, we need to seize that opportunity now. >> so thanks for your ideas. i've learned a few new ways to think about this and to talk to people about her i want to push back a little bit on the concept
that every building should be zero energy. there's a conference taking place a few blocks away on greenfield. greenfield. for the reason she talked about demolition and comfort conditioning, buildings that are intense occupancy with people or that certain uses like laboratories, very intensive, and whenever the 20 energy. they're going to need some kind of exterior energy source. some of them to buy buying green energy credits, that's maybe one -- >> let me just say, net energy. net zero. some of the area you could buy energy. by the way it could be renewable. >> will have that argument another time. the real question i want to ask about is i think you made the case on the economic, more of the economic basis there's a big upside. but i hear a lot of people, what i'd say the crotchety view, gee, i'm going to to live in a smaller house, i'm going to drive a smaller car, i won't be
able to have as big a long. so have some thoughts about what the person, on the personal level with the upside far but i'm interested in your ideas about the response to that. or i'm going to have to wear sweaters, more sweaters. >> like jimmy carter. >> so what's the -- >> that is a very strong position that a lot of people have that i respect, i disagree with that generalize this from your point. it's called, you know, no growth, or antigrowth meaning that we are simply consuming too much and that the solution is to consume less. i just don't find that to be true. there's a lot of reasons may be that we should consume less. i probably consume way more than i have to. on the other hand, if you think about a 100% renewable energy economy, we can keep consuming a lot of energy, and maybe we should have big cars for other
reasons or so much air-conditioning for other reasons, or we shouldn't go to so many conferences in airplanes for other reasons, but in nations shouldn't be the problem. -- like emissions shouldn't be the problem. antigrowth position suggest we have to, like where the hair shirt and to with less. i don't think that that's really, it's not going to solve the climate problem now. i don't really think it's necessary. and also when i think about it, again in the global picture, yeah, there's a lot of people like me to consume too much but most of the people in the world i don't think consume too much. are not about to lecture them and say, by the way, you're never going to be able to racial level of standard of living through energy. >> could i just -- sorry. >> just to say, you know, i tend to believe that we're going to
go through two phases. there's a phase where we can do tremendous emissions reductions with technology, renewable energy, energy efficiency and that's going to get us very far. we could do that for 10, 20, maybe 30 years. at some point though we are going to recognize that we do have to go to zero, and that's a great challenge. that will, i think, necessity people changing their behavior. i don't usually go around telling people to change their behavior because it doesn't have any impact at all. only desperation is going to get people to change their behavior and we're going to get desperate. i would think were probably going to get desperate around the 2030 at all things are possible just as they were during world war ii where, you know, people did remarkable things, things that we don't even contemplate today. i think, however, what i would
say to a crotchety friend of yours, things i've written on the website is, right now we've cleared the most perfect and most immoral ponzi scheme in history of the universe, which is to say that we are living beyond our means. we are robbing our children and our grandchildren of soils, fisheries, freshwater, arable land and a livable atmosphere. we are doing that because no one is stopping us because the only people who could stop us is us. so this is a classic ponzi scheme. we are hoping that there's another 10 to 20 years that we can enjoy this unsustainable lifestyle, and then that's the mentality that the entire world is living under, and the rich countries particularly. so your crotchety friend is simply in a massive amount of denial, and i can understand. he can want to say let other
people do with it. the problem is when everybody says let other people do with it, then the people have to do with it are our children and our grandchildren, and people who contributed to this problem not at all. i think we move into the realm of morality here, and it is just staggeringly immoral for us to continue to rob future generations of the ability to live the way we live simply because we are so greedy and myopic, we want to keep doing it for another 10 to 20 us despite what the overwhelming scientific evidence says. >> just ask you to follow up. is all sacrificed so? i think we talked about research and development and technology, our lives, things that our lives have become much more energy-efficient, use much less energy and for the most part people don't even notice. i can't remember the statistic about refrigerators with her
sister this out of their how to become vasimr energy if they are still huge energy hogs but have become vastly more energy efficient and it's not as the peoples that is less cold than it was 20 years ago. so is it all bad or is there also a good story to tell about how changes that are beneficial and people will not necessarily notice? >> what's bad is doing nothing. i realize that's an abstract concept for people who haven't internalized what's to come. but again as i say, as a physicist it's very hard for me to say that the actions we need to take to undo the mess that we are creating is somehow sacrifice. and i can certainly say as the parent of an eight and a half year old, sacrifice is a very awkward. obviously, i could blow all my money on vacations and stuff and not save any money for education or for her health care, but it would never dominate to do that and i would never call to
sacrifice to do that. i will say that people, you know, it's easy for us to say it's the sacrifice we in what we're doing is imposing unbelievable sacrifice on future generations. we are going to have 10 million people by mid century. if we take away a third of the arable land and the freshwater beneficiaries and the coral reefs, we take all those things away, we're just imposing on them a hunger games type situation. so they don't even get the choice. it is a force sacrifice we are imposing on them so that we can continue to live in a way that a think by the way most people would say yes, the changes between what it takes to be sustainable and what we're doing now would hardly be noticeable for most people. i use an example, how much of your travel is actually
necessary versus discretionary? it's a simple question. we do a lot of things we take for granted that if we went into the world war ii wartime footing, which we will and probably a couple decades, we won't take for granted at all. >> if i could just disagree a little bit at least an answer. [laughter] you know, we have models, you know, germany. germany is a country where the average living standard is more or less the same as here, but there in missions level at present are about half the u.s. they operate at twice the level of energy efficiency and we do. and moreover, germany with her energy plan you know, the plant because their missions passionate in missions in africa nicolas weill going to be near
zoo. that's the plan, it may not happen but that's the plan. i see that as a good model for ioc why the u.s. couldn't be come in 20 years, where germany is today without basically any sacrifice, you know? when i say more jobs, i mean the are going to be decent jobs with good incomes. so yes, there will be a chechen mission in the nature of consumption starting with the consumption of energy, but once we undertake that transformation i don't see that we would have to necessarily also undertake major changes in the level of consumption as it affects energy. we have been talking all about energy but joe mentioned agriculture. that's a different story. roughly 80% of greenhouse gas emissions are from energy sources. but that still leaves 20% from everything else. the biggest single additional
source is agriculture. it's true we cannot keep running an agricultural system that first of all is eliminating the carbon sinks of force. so how do we maintain an agricultural system that enables people to be fed without destroying the forests as a resource speak with that's going to be a whole other panel probably. i see people san and i apologize for making you wait, i want to hear your questions. >> what went wrong and what went well? of years ago united arab emirates announce this tremendous project of having account, the city of about 50,000 people with zero net, and they were planning on even having a zero net during construction which, as a civil engineer, i can't compliment how can have equipment building
things without any emissions. but i'm just wondering up your failure to with either lessons learned what went well, what didn't go so well? anything applied elsewhere? >> -- can anything be applied elsewhere? >> there is a town in germany, it's a rural town that has actually operating at zero in missions right now. so that when went well. >> i think, you know, i think it is indicative of an approach that frankly a lot of the arab countries that have come in all countries have been pursuing which is to try to invest very heavily in sort of big renewable project the other figures anything wrong with that. what all of us are going to ultimately have to do is that it's going to be incremental.
i think, and i just wanted to briefly say if i were committed people at the green building conference nearby here were two redesign the building to make it very low energy continues renewable to take advantage zero, you would actually much rather be working in that building and ended building you are working out because they would have more daylight, fresher air and so on and so on. what we're going to have to do i think mostly it is prize, innovation and prize the move to do. i think it's realizing we're going to zero is the big paradigm shift. when she realized what the end state is, that all the things you have to do to get there are not sacrifices. they are just the things that have to do. and many of them will be very good that i think most people will be quite happier in 50 years if we were to pursue them
that if, compared to not pursue the i think it's very safe to say. >> joe, you mentioned that disinformation campaign and that's, frankly, what i find most offensive about this topic, that anyone who's doing that but particularly politicians as well as the fossil fuel industry as you mentioned, to me it's the opposite of the other side of the coin yelling fire in a crowded building, disabling the fire alarms when there's a fire. given that new york is considering taking action against exxon for concealing past research that indicated that climate change was a reality, do either of you have thoughts on the future of disinformation campaigns both in the political arena and in the fossil fuels arena? >> i just think we have to just
fight them, you know? it's great that this information has come out with respect to exxon and other companies, and it's great legal action has been taken. as i said i was on a panel last night with someone who is not a climate deny but basically said, we don't have to worry about that, let's just keep building up all our fossil fuel resources in the united states. so are these people out of there. i was with one last night. so we just, i don't know what else to do other than just keep confronting them with the evidence and fighting against it. >> just to exxon case, you know, people should read about if they happen. it been written about in the "l.a. times" and said that exxon mobil has known literally since the 1970s in which with government scientists that carbon dioxide, the product, the
output of burning the product can cause catastrophic impacts. instead of joining the call for action which would could make a difference, they decided to launch what was for them, they were the largest funder of disinformation until david and charles koch came along. first of all, again, people who have the financial resources and understand this issue after the fund information. i don't think there's any question about that. i hope we get more the attorneys general who pursue the kind of case that the new york attorney general is pursuing, very comparable to what happened with the tobacco case. we can at least learn that who knew what when, and perhaps people can be shamed into a certain behavior change. but, you know, money and profits
drive behavior, and the tobacco companies haven't gone away. and people do still smoke. i think again is just encumbered upon everybody to be part of the information campaign, and that requires everyday people who would rather not talk about the subject becoming better at learning how to talk about it and then going out and talking about it. >> so, robert joseph, your close both brilliant scholars, and every bit of this has been really informative. i've just been a couple of days after greenbelt conference downtown and i've recently committed to changing my career path out of it into the green economy. and i'm looking at a lot of things. there are really cool commercial and residential and life change ideas at a conference. one thing i'm really surprised about is that a couple of people
specifically asked what do we as individuals do? it's not going to fix the problem completely but what as individuals can we do to make an impact in the short order? some of us are not going to go to the little electric car or completely switch over to solar. it's my understanding that over 30% of our electric energy consumption in the united states is residential. so is there a reason, or how do you feel about home energy auditing and really look at the envelope and ceiling and installation, et cetera? what are your thoughts on that? >> great, absolutely critical. raising efficiency standards in all buildings, residential, commercial, you know, buildings are the biggest consumer of energy. and like i said i myself started a business that actually, we started out focus on, just fund
raising efficiency standards. you see what can people do, you just answered the question yourself because you said you are switching your career as a big deal, isn't? >> i'm proud of you what to do in that end up looking at starting up a company that does energy auditing and native plants with disabled americans, the handicapped and general. >> that's fantastic. at my university, i mean, this is a coach will transformation. a lot of young people, they want to do something, i note you're not a college student -- >> thank you for calling the younger. >> people want to do something cool. they want to do something in the green energy area. this is like pervasive. you know, if people, i also have, i know a young man very well who works for schlumberger and he's done very well in oil
exploration, and he's quitting his job and he says he doesn't want to do anymore. so these kinds of decisions are seeping into the culture. you know, in terms of making moral choices. these are the choices before us. how exactly each of us does it is going to be different. congratulations on your new opportunities. >> i talk about this little bit at the end of the book. i don't go around telling people, you know, to reduce energy consumption. i think people can live more efficiently. they are free, the three big contributors are how much you fly, and if you fly a lot, that's a big emitter and 20 figure out how to teleconference and do more of that. i certainly have. your cars, another big emitter, italy i think people will want
to have a hybrid and then you want to have an electric car. i think come 2020 is when the real revolution is going to take off in electric cars because you are going to see an explosion in the technology. in your home i would urge you going to get an audit. there's a lot of little and easy things to do. led light is certainly the future of lighting, and the idea that we should have the same color light all day long, that's not how we evolved. we've evolved over a changing spectrum of light and you can get led lights that will do that. since you mentioned the greenbelt conference, i was there for the opening plenary. jamejames cameron spoke. there is to question thatcher died is a very big contributor to your net emissions. if everyone ate healthier, then greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture would go down
substantially. that healthy diet means less need, you know, and that is obviously a choice people have to make. but to the extent one wants to make a choice to eat healthy for yourself and for the planet, that a simple choice. i will say invest in their we don't solve global warming, it's very clear that 50, 60, 70 years from the people will not be eating much be because there will be the olympic it takes 20 times as much water and acreage per calorie delivered for meet-based diet as it does for a plant-based diet. they're just will not be the arable land and a freshwater to do it. we are going to be restricting everyone else's choice if we don't get our act together quite sent. >> we know what you guys are going to no -- we know what you guys are going to write next event. our last question before book signing. >> quick question about the aviation industry. how long do you think it will
take for this to reach the aviation industry, and what steps can airlines and aircraft manufacturers such a robust and bowling take to recycle quickly? >> you mean how do we design the plane's? >> what solutions can -- >> the two solutions are having more efficient planes, and i did see some, an article recently about raising energy efficiency in land. and the second thing is to design planes that can run on bioenergy, on alternative liquid fuels. not all bio, you know, corn ethanol is not going to generate in reduction in emissions relative to burning petroleum. but bioenergy from other sources such as switch grass or waste products in agriculture, if they can be used in planes as a liquid energy source, that's
going to engender reductions in emissions from aviation. >> aviation is certainly one of the biggest challenges because it's not something that you can electrify. i think a lot of the ground transportation will be electrified certainly, you know, your vehicles will ultimately be principally electric. what we're going to need this next generation of fuels. that's a question that corn ethanol and using crops to make fuel that you burned into engines is a barely sensible thing to do in our current world. you at 3 billion people and reduce arable land and freshwater, edward not going to be burning 40% of u.s. corn crop in our interest. so there will be this residual things where it's hard to replace liquid fuels and we wanted to have a next generation of biofuels built around algae and switch grass and things that don't use a lot of land and water.
that's a good place to continue doing r&d. spent i think you made people feel real guilty for flying over thanksgiving. maybe that's good, right of? >> it's good to think about it. change of plans. >> thank you so much. i'm not an economist nor a physicist, but it is religious a pleasure to talk t to you and picture perspective and to you and picture perspective and to help but wonder feels the same way, so please join me in thanking -- [applause] >> thank you so much to our wonderful and very informative panel tonight, and thank you to all of you for being a great audience. we will now be moving into the books on it would also have old books available for sale over here, so please feel free to visit her and just go ahead and lined up along the back walter we will be signing books over here in the corner. speed and next up on booktv comic program from this year's