Specials

Climate One: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ Energy Goals

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The U.S. Department of Defense is the biggest user of fossil fuels in the world, and the Navy uses about one third of it. But with heavy consumption comes heavy influence.

Unlike many corporate executives hung up on the short-term costs of low-carbon energy, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has committed to obtaining at least 50 percent of energy for the Navy and Marine Corps from alternative sources by 2020.

“It’s going to be very competitive with fossil fuels,” Mabus said. “In fact, we’re not going to do it unless it is competitive with fossil fuels.”

While the main objective for incorporating alternative sources is to fulfill its military mission, Mabus was proud to be a frontrunner in the move toward a clean-energy economy.

“What we do is, we bring a market,” Mabus said.

Oil is the ultimate global commodity, and the shrinking military budget makes alternative sources of energy imperative today, he said.

“Now is exactly the time that we have to do this,” Mabus said. “A tightening budget situation makes it even more urgent, even more critical that we do this.”

Mabus spoke about how the Navy historically switched from sail to coal, coal to oil, and pioneered nuclear, and “every single time, there were naysayers.”

“It’s one of our core competencies: Changing energy,” he said.

People who join the Navy or Marine Corps have this willingness to change, and it’s part of the spirit of innovation, Mabus said. When asked about what other countries’ navies around the world are doing in terms of alternative energy, Mabus said they are all watching the U.S. very closely to see how we do.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the largest spenders on alternative energy in the world,” Mabus said. “That ought to tell you something.”

Aside from the economic implications of alternative fuels, many American lives are lost in fuel or water convoys overseas. “We’re talking about saving Marine lives, doing this,” Mabus said.

He spoke about other technological innovations, such as a solar blanket given to Marines that produces energy where they use it, which can save lives – when you turn off a generator, all of sudden you can hear when somebody’s sneaking up on you. The Navy also has a patent to create fuel by combining organic matter and seawater, he said.

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California Weekly Climate One:
Condoms and Climate

Photo: http://www.commonwealthclub.org/

Photo: http://www.commonwealthclub.org/

Breathing, eating and consuming, an individual human being produces tons of carbon every year. Could population control be the key to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.? Populations are expected to skyrocket in developing areas like sub-saharan Africa, generating even more carbon pollution. Reducing population growth could also help fight climate change, but in the wake of India’s forced sterilizations in the 1970s and China’s mandatory one-child policy, nationwide family planning has a stigma.

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California Weekly Climate One:
Green Latinos

California Weekly Climate One:
Aquatech

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20140311-Aquatech_0020

Photo courtesy of http://www.climate-one.org/

From Egyptian irrigation systems to Roman aqueducts to the dikes and canals of The Netherlands, the world’s civilizations have long found innovative ways to harness and conserve their water supply. But with California entering the third year of an historic drought, what 21st century technologies are on the horizon to help us deal with an ever-shrinking pool of water?

At the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Greg Dalton explored the topic with the heads of three companies that are finding ways to meet the crisis head-on.

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California Weekly Climate One:
Yoram Bauman, “The World’s Only Stand-Up Economist”

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What’s so funny about climate change? Stand-up economist Yoram Bauman uses humor to explain carbon tax, cap and trade and the ‘Five Chinas’ theory.

Yoram Bauman, PhD., Co-author, The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change (with Grady Klein) (Island Press, 2014)

Jonah Sachs, CEO, Free Range Studios

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club of California on July 8, 2014.

California Weekly Climate One: Ecological Intelligence

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What’s really preventing us from enacting environmental change? Blame our brains, says Daniel Goleman, author of Ecological Intelligence. As he explains it, “The problem comes down to a design flaw in the human brain.” Evolution fine-tuned our brains to protect us from immediate survival threats – lions, tigers and bears. But long-term dangers, such as those that threaten our planet today, don’t register. “The problem is that we don’t perceive, nor are we alarmed by, these changes,” says Goleman. “And so we’re in this dilemma where we can show people, “Well, you know, your carbon footprint is this,” but it doesn’t really register in the same way as “there’s a tiger around the block.” Facts alone aren’t enough, he adds, “We need to find a more powerful way of framing them…a way which will activate the right set of emotions and get us moving.”

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California Weekly Climate One: Resource Revolution

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Today’s two billion middle class consumers will more than double globally over the next two decades. But while cities in China, India and other developing countries will be teeming with citizens in need of housing, cars and electronic gadgets, natural resources are dwindling. The silver lining? Consumer demand has sparked a third industrial revolution – one that is driving massive innovation, from Teslas to smart meters to less wasteful building methods. How are companies adapting to meet the demands of a changing world?

Matt Rogers co-authored “Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century.” “If you see two and a half billion new people entering the middle class, you say, my goodness, we are going to run out of resources,” says Rogers. But in researching the book, he says, they found enormous potential instead. Changing the way we both produce and use resources, Rogers adds, will avert the economic and environmental disasters that seem to threaten us.

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Who Cares

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Four in 10 American adults are family caregivers. They provide for the needs of parents, spouses, children with disabilities, and siblings. It’s a labor of love that takes a toll physically, emotionally, financially. Who cares for the caregivers? How do they care for themselves?

We explore these questions and more through the lives of three caregiving families.

Diary of A Bad Year: A War Correspondent’s Dilemma

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Kelly McEvers. Photo by Glen Carey

Kelly McEvers. Photo by Glen Carey

Among the braver things Kelly McEvers has done is to make this documentary. In 2011, Kelly started to see things in slow motion. She cried unpredictably. She was NPR’s correspondent in the Middle East, at the time of the Arab uprisings. Colleagues and friends were being kidnapped. Some were getting killed.

But still, she went toward the story. The next year, 2012, was the deadliest on record for journalists worldwide. It was a huge hit to the “tribe” of foreign correspondents of which Kelly is a part. Kelly began to wonder, “Why do otherwise intelligent people risk their lives when they don’t have to?” -Jay Allison

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Intelligence Squared Debates:
Death is Not Final

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Illustration by Thomas James

Illustration by Thomas James

If consciousness is just the workings of neurons and synapses, how do we explain the phenomenon of near-death experience? By some accounts, about 3% of the U.S. population has had one: an out-of-body experience often characterized by remarkable visions and feelings of peace and joy, all while the physical body is close to death. To skeptics, there are more plausible, natural explanations, like oxygen deprivation. Is the prospect of an existence after death “real” and provable by science, or a construct of wishful thinking about our own mortality?