On September 25, 2017, the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) and the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) held a roundtable discussion on the potential of today’s frontier scientific research to disrupt tomorrow’s energy system.
Technology, Energy and Nature - Human Values and Open Choices
As humans, we have developed technologies to control energy transformations from agriculture to nuclear weapons. Increasing technological ability has co-evolved with increasing intensity of energy use and growing complexity of our civilization. These forces have shaped our environmental footprint and our very conception of nature. It's tempting to believe that physical limits constrain our energy and environmental choices as never before; but Dr. Keith argues precisely the opposite: our growing technological leverage makes access to energy and materials cheaper, opening up our options for co-existing with the natural world. These options force us to confront hard choices about our values. Should we treasure nature as it is, or purely as an instrument to human welfare? Our growing ability to engineer the planet makes these choices ever more pressing. David Keith holds the Canada Research Chair in Energy and Environment, and is a Professor at the University of Calgary and Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology and public policy for twenty years. His work in technology and policy assessment has centered on the capture and storage of CO2, the technology and implications of global climate engineering the economics and climatic impacts of large-scale wind power and, most recently, the land footprint of energy technologies.