01 November 2017

The best lecture I've heard in many years


Absolutely the best.

I stumbled across this at 0600 this morning when I couldn't sleep and was surfing randomly, watched for a couple minutes, and then was hooked for the entire 40-minute presentation.

This is the video equivalent of a "longread."  Forty minutes is a significant chunk of your time, but I think this is worth viewing for any reader of TYWKIWDBI who shares my general worldview.

The topic is the future of global energy - basically the rise of solar and wind and the imminent plunge of coal and oil.  The numbers are staggering (and largely unappreciated by the general public).  The implications are for major disruptions in energy markets - and the geopolitical balance - within our lifetimes (within yours moreso than for old guys like me).  The presentation is at a South African symposium, so some of the focus is there, but the implications are worldwide - especially for the Middle East and for Russia.

And best of all this is a first-class presentation.  I spent the best hours of my professional life on stages and behind podiums giving lectures.  This guy - Ramez Naam - is superb as a speaker.  Pacing, diction, gestures, and the composition of his visual aids are all outstanding.  And I drool with envy looking at the setup in this auditorium with huge screens that I would have killed to have when I was lecturing.

Give it a try for at least 5 minutes to let him get past the introductory remarks; I think you'll want to hear it all.  Awesome.

17 comments:

  1. germany has many wind turbines. it recently had so much wind that the electricity generated was free.

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  2. So nice to watch something that leaves me feeling hopeful about the world. The numbers about pollution-related deaths were astonishing, I had no idea it was that bad.

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  3. Paint me as an reprehensible curmudgeons, but this lecture misses the mark. The only valid problem to be solved is there are 5.3 billion too many humans on the planet. Developing "nuevo" clean energy sources and solving all the problems humanity has been subject to in the last 100 years is not only naïve it's doomed to fail.

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    1. I understand your point of view. I would highly recommend your watching Hans Rosling's TED talk on the future of the world's population -

      http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2015/03/hans-rosling-clarifies-world.html

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    2. I agree. When most countries in Africa have an AVERAGE of 5 children. The problem isn't food, water, vaccines, energy, etc...it is unchecked population growth. Stop that and all other issues are solved.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. I have and the population is going to go up in the billions in the next 30-80 years in the wrong places. Places which have the most regional conflict due to resources. That's a huge problem. 1 billion more in Asia. 1-3 billion more in Africa. Both continents can not sustainably handle this amount of growth.

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    6. David, you're quite correct about the numbers. I misremembered only the part about the world total becoming stable, not about the accelerated imbalances.

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  4. I think I found your blog in 2010 and check it for updates has been a daily habit ever since. I've always loved how your posts and the comments from your readers and yourself are of such a high standard. This is just one of a long list of talks that I've watched on your recommendation and they have always been incredibly thought provoking and engaging.

    I don't really have anything to say that adds insight to the topic I just wanted to take the time to express how much I've loved what you do over the years Stan.

    Regards, Anonymous lurker.

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    1. Thank you anon. I do monitor all the comments so that I can zap the spam and the trolls, but in general I think the quality of the readership shows through without any intervention on my part.

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    2. You're doing an incredible job. You've played a massive part in shaping my interests over the past few years. I don't usually gush about things, and I know you don't need the pat on the back but I wanted to thank you for a while now and this was as good a time and place as any.

      So thank you.

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    3. Hi Stan,

      Same here! Except I comment from time to time (usually either non-productively, or counter-productively, but occasionally with useful additions). You've done a lot to shape my mind for the last ten years, as I've grown from a fresh, brash thing to a more reasoned, rounded fellow. I hope one day to emulate your poise, balance and discipline, you're a bit of a hero of mine I must say.

      Jim, Sydney, AU.

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  5. I have friends that would counter this with how environmentally unfriendly solar panrels are, and how large of a carbon footprint the manufacture of a wind turbine leaves. I would guess that’s a pretty complicated formula, and wonder if the speaker didn’t cover that. I was only able to see about 20 minutes worth.
    I’m not sure what to say to those folks. The sight of a coal plant spouting all that smoke in my minds eye is pretty convincing to me.
    I guess I need to find 20 minutes more to see the last half.

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  6. I rarely take the time to sit and listen but I'm glad I did. At age 71, some of the time lines are a little out of reach but this is something that will effect my grandkids and especially my son, who works for a refinery.

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  7. Energy is the ultimate problem along with space, lamp food farms and desalination plants only depend on the price of power for their viability. I do appreciate the perspective adjustment, to the point where wind and solar are inevitable.

    However the talk is cherry picking things and omitting the limits, yes the installation price of solar decreased. But so did the quality and longevity of PV panels. And there is a always a price bottom. The comparison to microchips is apt, and here we've also reached bottom more or less, PCs and mobile phones aren't getting any cheaper any more. The transistors per dollar number is stagnating.

    Because installation cost for roofs is high, you don't want the cheapest modules, also real estate and maintenance isn't cheap.

    Even without a raving psychopath as head of government, 12+ years of conservative rule left Germany caving under the pressure of the energy lobby, and now you can only sell 70% pWk of energy during peak sun hours. Also selling energy to the grid yields less than the going kWh price. It's not the old renewables poster boy any longer, it's a shit hole refugee camp clouded in diesel exhaust, trying to save face.

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  8. Way too sanguine, IMHO. But, this guy is in sales. Good at it, yes.

    We just hit a new high in fossil fuel consumption this year. World population is climbing, even in the US. Radical reductions in consumer demand are off the table; I asked my affluent liberal friends.

    Willing to stop flying to vacation wonderlands? No. Willing to live in a smaller house? No. Willing to eliminate meat consumption? No. The End.

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