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Entretec Keynote Address - Rethinking Energy In Pasadena

Remarks of Bill Bogaard
Introduction of Stephanie Yanchinski
June 6, 2008

PASADENA ENTRETEC SIGNATURE EVENT

Stephanie Yanchinski KEYNOTE SPEAKER

On June 6, Pasadena’s Entretech, based at the California Institute of Technology, presented the second annual conference on the role of technology in responding to global warming, GreenTech 2008. Entretech is a non-profit support organization for start up and early stage high tech companies in Pasadena and the surrounding region. Its purpose is to facilitate the success of new business enterprises, creating new employment opportunities and technology based solutions to future economic needs. Mayor Bogaard offered an opening statement at GreenTech 2008, which is set forth below.

RETHINKING ENERGY IN PASADENA

It is a pleasure to join with Stephanie Yanchinski of Entretech to extend a welcome to this important conference, GreenTech 2008. I am proud that this event takes place in the City of Pasadena, but it is not a surprise.

With great institutions of higher learning, research organizations involved in energy, mobility and transportation, Pasadena’s adoption of green building standards and its commitment to sustainability, lots of people here are thinking about the challenge we face today in moving our community, our country, and our world to a sustainable lifestyle.

Let me start by using the words of Caltech’s Professor David Goodstein. A few years ago, he wrote:

 

“The world will soon start to run out of conventionally produced, cheap oil. If we manage somehow to overcome that shock by shifting the burden to coal and natural gas, the two other primary fossil fuels, life may go on more or less as it has been—until we start to run out of all fossil fuels….And by the time we have burned up all that fuel, we may well have rendered the planet unfit for human life. Even if human life does go on, civilization as we know it will not survive, unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels.”


In his book, Out of Gas—the End of the Age of Oil, Dr. Goodstein goes on to affirm that we are capable of overcoming the implications of running out of fossil fuel, but that the political will to move in that direction is highly uncertain.

Few leaders of the world today deny that the great advances of the industrial revolution have brought with them a host of unintended consequences. We owe our high standard of living to technological innovations developed in the course of the last century—affordable energy; rapid transportation; fast, low-cost automated production; and advanced information systems—that have created a range of environmental and social problems.

A short list includes pollution of air, water and soil from billions of tons of toxic waste; declining biological diversity from harvesting of natural resources; production and use of materials so dangerous they require constant, costly vigilance for future generations; and regulations that merely limit—but do not preclude—the poisoning of people and the environment.

The purpose of this conference is to examine what is going on in energy efficiency and in the search for renewable sources of energy. The event ties in, happily, with efforts that are underway in many other forums and arenas to explore solutions to these problems.

We have all noted the debates in Washington this week concerning the Senate climate control legislation. No one expects this bill to pass this year, but the political battle lines are forming and they show how tough it will be to meaningfully cut greenhouse gas emissions when the fight does get serious—probably next year.

The goal of this legislation is aggressive: cutting U.S. emissions by about 65% by 2050. Whether that is politically achievable is hard to predict.

We do know that there are significant costs associated with the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report indicates that the average cost of owning and operating a car during this calendar year will be $8,121, up significantly from $7,823 last year.

We know that the costs of building power plants are rising dramatically. A spokesperson for the Cambridge Energy Research Associates states, “costs for labor, materials, equipment, design, and engineering—all are up. As a result, the cost of building new plants is up 19% from a year ago and up 69% from 2005.” In all, CERA says, the construction of new generating capacity that would have cost $1 billion in 2000 would cost $2.31 billion if construction began today.

Another challenge is the reality that most people make decisions about expenditures on the basis of lower cost. Some people are prepared to pay a premium for “green power” at their home, or are willing to invest in solar equipment because it’s good for the environment, but most of those decisions have been supported by subventions, tax credits or other incentives that erase or greatly diminish the cost differential. Without the economic incentive, deciding to do the right thing is difficult.

Earlier this year in The New Yorker, an article entitled “Big Foot” opened with a statement that puts the dilemma we face in stark perspective:

 

“A little more than a year ago, Sir Terry Leahy, who is the chief executive of the Tesco chain of supermarkets, Britain’s largest retailer, delivered a speech to a group called the Forum for the future, about the implications of climate change. Leahy had never before addressed the issue in public, but his remarks left little doubt that he recognized the magnitude of the problem. ‘I am not a scientist,’ he said. ‘But I listen when the scientists say that, if we fail to mitigate climate change, the environmental, social, and economic consequences will be stark and severe…There comes a moment when it is clear what you must do. I am determined that Tesco should be a leader in helping to create a low-carbon economy. In saying this, I do not underestimate the task. It is to take an economy where human comfort, activity, and growth are inextricably linked with emitting carbon and to transform it into one which can only thrive without depending on carbon. This is a monumental challenge. It requires a revolution in technology and a revolution in thinking. We are going to have to rethink the way we live and work.’”

 


The conference today is an opportunity for all of us to start or to continue re-thinking the way we live and work. Good luck! Thanks for being her 
 

Posted: 6/6/2008 09:30:00 AM