fossil fuels

fossil fuels

Power to save nature? The role of energy and ‘techno-fixes’ in conserving climate and ecosystems

1d ago
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Professor Barry Brook's keynote speech at the 2014 Geography and Spatial Sciences Annual Conference, University of Tasmania. Fossil fuels have supplied most of society’s energy demand for more than two centuries. Yet, with the mounting problems of climate change, pollution, security and dwindling supplies, we now face the need for a near-total transformation of the world’s energy systems. In this talk Barry provides a critical overview of the challenges in—and potential solutions for—completely ‘decarbonising’ our energy and industrial systems, while also meeting the growing need for increased prosperity in the developing world. He argues that of the options available, it is next-generation nuclear power and related technologies, based on modular systems with full fuel and material recycling and inherent safety that offer the best chance of curing our hydrocarbon addiction. Along with other interventions (‘techno-fixes’ like geoengineering, GMOs, nanotechnology, etc.) that seek to decouple demand from impact, we can also avoid destructive overuse of natural and agricultural landscapes for biofuels and low productivity ventures, thereby reducing our ‘footprint’ by sparing land and resources for biodiversity conservation.