In the last five years, sustainability and energy issues in general rose from obscurity to dominance in both the popular and technical press. In the process, the definitions, goals, and pathways seem to becoming more confused rather than more focused. This presentation discusses sustainability broadly and solutions specifically, focusing on recently developed comparatively efficient and inexpensive solutions. The most essential points include the following:
The reputation of a lethargic and stagnant energy industry is largely a mischaracterization and has been for several decades. In reality, changes in the industry, specifically environmental improvements, are dramatic and very hard won. The challenges of the past pale in comparison to those of the future. There has never been a greater need for capable, well-trained, and innovative engineers in the industry. While renewable energy is essential and its expansion is important, solutions that rely entirely on renewable resources will require miraculous technology development. There is ample opportunity for solutions that involve continued use of some fossil energy. Ultimately, sustainability is going to require all of the following: increased renewable energy, increased nuclear power, better fossil energy, and a change in lifestyle. The leaders that can accomplish these goals are possibly among today’s students and have a perhaps unprecedented challenge ahead of them.
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