Green:Net 09 Conference : Save the planet in 25 years, starting now!

By March 26, 2009

Saul Griffith doesn’t want you to panic. When this entrepreneur, inventor and, above all, scientist has to present you with some of today’s most scary truths, like the near extinction of mankind, he makes sure to first introdu

ce simple and pictorial unit-conversion tricks (What the heck is a Watt? The energy to move an apple from the ground onto your table, in one second! So running a Mac Book, on 40 Watts, is equivalent to moving 40 apples onto the table every second! Apples, Mac Book… get it?), personal input (showing his entire 2007 lifestyle in CO2 emissions), and a lot of humor even while speaking of billions of “climate refugees” and mass extinctions. He pointed out an interesting fact in a very appropriate slide: We DO have the technology to fight global warming, we’ve been using it since 1929 and it’s called…recession. Indeed for every major recession of this century from 1929 to oil crisis in 1973 and September 2001, US energy consumption temporarily decreased. Good news?

The picture that he draws up is more challenging than entertaining: in order to lower the greenhouse effect we should increase the use of renewable non-polluting energies dramatically in the coming years. Today, wind farms and solar and nuclear plants count for 1TW (4% of total energy production) and we must reach 12TW (3/4 of the power needs). But to reach this goal in 2033, thus taking 25 years, we need to build:
- One 100sq-meter-large solar plant every second,
- One 100 meter-wide wind turbine every 5 minutes,
- One 300 MW steam turbine every day
- One 3GW nuclear plants every week

And so on... for 25 years. Nothing impossible, he concludes, we just MUST start it NOW.

You can see the very interesting slides of his presentation here:

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas