Technology Day 2007 - "Energy in a Global Context"
HOCHMAN: Hello. Welcome, welcome. Thank you all. Thank you for coming to Technology Day. I am Ira Hochman.
I am the chair of the Technology Day committee this year. And first, I'd like to take you through an honored ritual here at Technology Day. First, I will invite you to join me as I remove my cell phone and turn it off.
First, I'd like to thank a few people-- specifically, the fantastic committee of people that I had working with me this year that have put together this program for you. They're very energetic, great ideas and a very fun bunch to work with-- very enjoyable. I'd also like to definitely thank the faculty for taking time to put together these presentations and for being here today to talk to us.
I'd like to also specifically thank Lou Alexander of the Alumni Association, who basically manages the entire process of Technology Day. He's a great guy to work with-- definitely fun and totally reliable. It's great. I'd also like to thank the audience, all of you, both here in the auditorium, and today, we're also being webcast live. So I'd like to thank the audience at home or wherever you are with your laptop who are enjoying this today.
So I'm very excited about today's program. The subject is energy, which has become a major concern worldwide and MIT's response to this has been the creation of the Energy Research Council and subsequently, the MIT Energy Initiative. Today's program focus will be on the evolution of today's energy environment, as well as a discussion of how we can improve security and effectiveness of today's energy programs and systems. The format is a little different than last year.
After we have President Hockfield's remarks, we'll have three faculty members speak. Each speaker has 50 minutes-- there's about 40 minutes for the presentation and up to 10 minutes for the questions. Since that's such a short time, I please ask you to present your questions so that there is time for answers and further questions.
There will not be a panel Q&A after the talk this year. I'd also like to mention a recent addition to the Technology Day program, which are the poster sessions. You may have noticed outside in Kresge auditorium. These are award-winning student research projects. And we'd like to also thank Sally Susnowitz of the MIT Public Service Center for putting together this offering outside. And I would also encourage you to enjoy a conversation with the students behind these projects during the break.
So with that, I would like to introduce to you Beth Garvin, the executive VP, CEO of the MIT Alumni Association. She's been with MIT for more than 20 years and was named head of the association in 2003. Please welcome Beth Garvin.
GARVIN: Well, good morning. It's my pleasure to welcome you and to greet so many old friends and meet some new ones. We're delighted to have you here this weekend for tech reunions and for this, our biggest alumni event of intellectual nature. Tech Night at the Pops is probably our biggest in terms of size overall, but we really focus on something important today.
I have the privilege of leading your association, and I do that very ably supported by a couple of folks I want to mention. One is President Hockfield, who has been incredibly supportive of all of the alumni activities, has been out to meet many of you around the world in the two years she's been here, and I just cannot say enough how important her presence is and her participation in all these events. It used to be that the president of MIT would go to three reunion events over the course of this very busy weekend with commencement and the ROTC hooding and all the activities.
Susan likes to do three or four a night. So it really is an extraordinary investment of time and energy for which we're very grateful. The other group, of course, are the volunteers who make all of these activities possible. We have more than an event a day around the world.
And if you add in the things that are being webcast and carried online in various ways, there's just an enormous amount of really wonderful stuff going on, and that's due to the many volunteers who support the association, many of whom are in this room. And you'll see from this program today just how wonderful they are at putting together these events.
And finally, I just want to acknowledge what has to be the best alumni association staff on the planet. I appreciate how many of you have come up and given me compliments on their work. They really are extraordinarily hard working, and we're here to make your weekend as enjoyable as possible.
We always encourage feedback, though. Don't usually have to encourage this audience too much to tell us what they think but please, there are evaluations. We're always trying to make things even more interesting, even more fun.
So do give us your feedback. And I hope I get a chance to say hello to everybody today. Enjoy the program.
HOCHMAN: Thank you very much, Beth. So it's my great pleasure and honor to introduce someone you may be familiar with, the 16th president of MIT, President Susan Hockfield.
HOCKFIELD: Good morning, everyone. It's not so sunny today, but you know what? It was sunny yesterday. We were blessed with a glorious day for commencement, and we are blessed, I say, with a fabulous program for today. Thank you, John, for your great introductions and for your work pulling today's event together.
And I want to just use a minute to thank Beth and her amazing team. She talks about how I wanted to three or four events a night during reunion weekend. It would be absolutely impossible without this crackerjack team that actually does create schedules for me that I describe as a jigsaw puzzle. The events are knit together like this.
So I know I saw many of you last night and at your fantastic events. The mood is among you-- I think, reflects the mood on campus, which is optimistic, ebullient. I'm very much excited about what MIT is doing on campus and frankly, what we contribute to the world.
Tech Day is always one of the highlights for me and partly because I get to see so many of you but also because we get to hear from MIT's faculty leaders about the work that they're doing and how the Institute addresses the pressing challenges of the world. Today, we're going to focus on what many people consider-- and I'm among them-- perhaps the world's greatest challenge right now. It's a challenge-- energy, sustainable energy, how we can use it without using up our important resources. Those resources include the capacity of the atmosphere to take up CO2. It's also an area where we believe MIT can make unique contributions.
Now while I'm going to provide a little bit of an introduction to the energy talks that you're going to be hearing, we will have Q&A at the end. And I welcome questions on any topic.
Now, interestingly enough, the best way to think about MIT's work on energy is to begin not here in Cambridge, but in Switzerland at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos last January. At Davos this year, we had a very strong MIT presence. We had more than a dozen faculty members who accompanied me.
Over the course of several days, we had 17 faculty presentations at the World Economic Forum. And there were several MIT events in Zurich and at Davos, including a dinner that we hosted on disruptive energy technologies. We were agreed with enormous enthusiasm, and rather than brag about it myself, I thought I'd just read from you from what the Time Magazine's Davos correspondent wrote.
At a certain point during this year's World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, the gusts of self-regard became a little too much to bear. I found myself wondering whether any of this high minded talk was worth a dime. Fortunately, that's when something came along to remind me of what Davos is good for. My breakthrough session turned out to be a guided tour of the future-- MIT's dinner session on disruptive energy technologies.
Now at the dinner we had three of our faculty speak. Angie Belcher talked about the viruses that she's persuaded to make batteries. Vladimir Bulovic talked about solar photovoltaics and quantum dots. Greg Stephanopoulos talked about a very large and fascinating biofuels project. And Tom Friedman who you know from his work for the New York Times was our introducer and moderated the discussion.
Back to Time Magazine-- no wonder MIT President Susan Hockfield, seeing those sorts of discoveries taking place in nooks and crannies all around her Cambridge campus decided to gather scientists into an Energy Research Council and declare war on the energy crisis, accelerating the switch to clean, efficient fuels. Solving this crisis, as Hockfield told us as candles flickered in the little stone grotto in Davos, will take not one solution, but a portfolio of solutions. It's a sprint and a marathon.
Learning what her scientists are up to made me feel better about our chances in this race. And that's what Davos is good for-- helping of authentic reality-based hope right when you need it the most. And that is where I begin what MIT is good for-- a dose of authentic reality-based hope that we can help address in a real way the most serious of the world's great challenges.
Now I'm sure I don't need to rehearse for this audience what actually frames our global energy challenge. There is accelerating demand. China alone is increasing its energy use by 10% a year. The world over is on track to double our energy use by 2050. The security of our sources of energy are historical sources of energy are, shall we say, not so stable.
Increasingly, those energy sources-- the energy there itself, oil-- is in the hands of companies that are controlled by states. Those states are, shall we say, can't be relied upon to be the most friendly to our country. And then the environmental implications of our current technology-- people may argue about the cause of about whether the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is the cause of global warming. I personally believe what the preponderance of scientists say about this.
But if you look at the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, that was about 280 parts per million in 1900. It is 380 parts per million today. It is rising at a rate that is absolutely unsustainable. Whether that is the cause of global warming or no, we are using up a limited resource, and that limited resource is the capacity of our atmosphere to hold CO2 in a way that is sustainable. It's consistent with life as we know it on this planet.
MIT's response to this energy challenge is the MIT Energy Initiative. The initiative grew out of interest I heard from faculty, students, staff, and alumni as I was learning about the MIT community. When I asked our community, what are MIT's responsibilities and opportunities over the next decade or two? There was an overwhelming call for MIT to do more to help solve this global crisis.
The Energy Research Council released its report after a year of study just about a year ago. It was released concurrent with an Institute-wide energy forum that was about the busiest week of the year. We held it in Kresge. Kresge was packed.
This past fall, we announced the formal begin of the MIT Energy Initiative. The initiative is headed by Ernie Moniz with the deputy director Barb Armstrong.
One of the most exciting things about MIT's Energy Initiative is not the huge number of people who have begun to participate, but the fact that people are participating in this from all five of our schools. The Energy Initiative has drawn out three main themes. The first is new technologies for a cleaner future, and there, we're focusing on solar, on biofuels, and on energy storage.
The second theme is improving today's energy systems for changes in the near term, and there we're focusing on nuclear, clean carbon, and carbon dioxide capture and sequestration. The third theme is addressing the challenges posed by the emerging economies. And there we feel we can be particularly helpful in the areas of transportation, and construction. And our three faculty speakers today will lead you through a few-- let's just say three of the very many important strands that comprise the Energy Initiative.
As I said, an important aspect of the Energy Initiative is that it reaches across all of the schools. Every theme, every research direction requires collaboration from many different departments in many different schools. Each research area that I hear described by the Energy Initiative participants is not an area that could be addressed by one faculty member or one department or one school. Each requires participation across MIT, and each also requires not simply new technology or new science. Each requires technology and policy working together.
The Energy Initiative is not just about research. Importantly, it's also about education. There is enormous student enthusiasm and interest, and one of the first activities of the Energy Initiative was to put together a task force on education. We have a marvelous committee that's addressing that, and we now have a website that presents to our students the range of energy-related courses available on campus. And the student interest, as I said, has just been overwhelming.
It's also important for MIT to, what we say, walk the talk. So one of the initiatives first task force is a task force on campus sustainability to use our campus as a living laboratory, so we can do what we're talking about and what we're urging the rest of the world to do.
The most important message emerging out of our work is that we have to develop a portfolio of solutions. There is not a single silver bullet. We can't focus on one solution to address it. We have to at the same time pursue many different avenues.
When I first heard about the energy challenge, I thought about it as a challenge and you know with all seriousness about wearing extra sweaters and turning down the thermostat. And it seemed like, boy, it was kind of a sorry thing.
After talking to our faculty being in my own energy course from our faculty and students over the last two years, I now see this as a fantastic opportunity-- an opportunity not just for a campus, but an opportunity for the nation. It's an opportunity to inspire the young people of the nation around a bright future that they can help invent. I see this as a possibility of having the same kind of catalytic and inspirational effect that the Apollo program had on my generation.
The other great opportunity is the possibility that new energy technology will fuel the next cycle of the innovation economy that has made this nation so strong. We see that around here where energy startups and actually, large energy companies are moving into MIT's backyard. It resembles, in many ways, the beginning of the life science revolution and the marvelous life science companies that have come out of places like MIT around the world. Now, of course, energy is not the only way in which MIT's faculty, students, and staff are working together to address the world's most critical needs, and we could have picked any one of a number of topics to present to you today.
But I would say, overall, there is a huge sense of optimism and opportunity on campus about what MIT is good for-- a dose of authentic reality-based hope that we can contribute to solving the world's great challenges. In this role, MIT has been for decades and decades a real beacon for the world. Now thanks to an extraordinarily generous alumnus who is inspired by the idea of taking the basket off this beacon, off the lamp, tonight, we're going to celebrate a symbolic way of taking the basket off the lamp. And we will reignite one of my team's most powerful symbols.
After sunset tonight, which occurs late because we are near the longest day of the year, for the first time in more than three decades, we will fully relight the great dome. The relighting is possible because of advances in energy-saving lighting technologies. The power consumption of our new lighting techniques is going to consume energy that's equal to two hair dryers, or I've been told the amount of energy that's currently is consumed by lighting in my office. We've got to get to work on the lighting in my office.
So the lighting itself is very low energy consuming. But in addition to that, again, because of the generosity of this alumnus who has insisted on remaining anonymous, we are also going to be installing 40-kilowatt photovoltaic cell, actually, which greatly exceeds the call on energy by the dome lighting. But we see this dome lighting as a way to walk the talk times two.
The first is demonstrating energy efficient lighting. We don't have to give up a lot of the wonderful things we enjoy. We just have to do things in a more energy-efficient way. And the second really important part of MIT's contributions is inspiring. The nation the world about the wonderful promise of a brighter future for all through Science and Technology.
Let me just close by echoing some of the things that Beth said when she introduced the sessions morning. I cannot overestimate the importance of alumni engagement. Of course, you should go without saying that your generous financial support is essential for us to be able to do the kind of extraordinary frontier advancing work that we do and to bring the most able and ambitious students in the world to this campus. And I'm going to thank you a little bit more in that domain at lunch. But for now, I really want to thank you for the very many other roles you play as members of the MIT community.
One especially critical role is as ambassadors from MIT to the world. And I very much hope that all of you will continue to spread the good news of MIT's contributions to solving the world's great challenges and how we educate young people from MIT to be the people who engineer, who develop the science, who understand the policy of bringing those solutions to bear on these great challenges. Thank you very much for joining us for this reunion weekend. Let me stop there and take a few questions before we move on to our faculty presentations. Thank you.
Any questions from the floor before we--
HOCKFIELD: Yes, there are mics. Oh, you're up there. Okay, so you'll have to speak very loudly, please.
AUDIENCE: Obviously, [INAUDIBLE]
HOCKFIELD: Yeah so the question is, it's obvious that MIT can make major contributions in science and technology. But are we also working on the policy, the economic piece of the puzzle? And indeed, we are. The Energy Council, which
is the five faculty who are primary advisors to Ernie Moniz and Bob Armstrong come from each of the five schools. And we have a number of faculty in humanities, arts, and social sciences and MIT Sloan who are actually very interested in these policy, economic issues. And I think you'll be hearing a little bit about some of that today looking at Nazli. And she's not nodding. We're going to hear a little bit about some of their policy work today.
And we actually feel that for a couple of reasons that MIT can knit the science and technology together with the policy in almost unique ways, partly because we have people on campus who are working on both sides of that equation, but also because MIT has an almost unique practice of faculty working across what in other places are departmental and school boundaries.
As I think about-- at least the parts of MIT's history that I know-- what I always think about is the study that led to the book Made in America that was brought forth during the Japanese threat on the American economy. Made in America was done by a group called the industrial Performance Center, which is a group of economists, people from MIT Sloan, engineers and scientists. That group continues to produce a bunch of a number of books and actually their most recent book out of that group.
The main author is Suzanne Berger. It's a book called How We Compete, and it's exactly just exactly what you asked. It's a study of economics and business practices in the context of globally successful businesses. So indeed, the short answer I should've said is, yes, we are going to be we are doing both the economics and the technology around the energy challenges.
Other questions? You'll have to actually speak up because it's hard for me to see if there's anyone at a microphone. If not, we will proceed with the-- oh, thank you.
HOCKFIELD: What can we do to persuade our government leaders that we need programs like Apollo in this area? Well, I think we all can lend our voice to that call. Like MIT presidents before me, I spend a day every four to six weeks in Washington, working to persuade them actually on these issues. I spent time in Congress at the White House with the heads of the various agencies actually making this call.
And I think we need to as a nation articulate our interest in a very loud way on our belief that the energy challenge could represent the kind of issue to which the nation as a whole could direct its interest, its enthusiasm, its ambitions. So as I said, you are very important as MIT ambassadors to the world. If you all lend your voice to this possibility, it will amplify the things that I can do in person 120,000-fold I think is a number of our alumni right now. Anything else?
Well, again, thank you very much for joining us for Tech Day. Thanks for coming back to campus, I hope you like what you see. And as Beth said, this is not a shy group. We look forward to hearing from you about your reflections on this week on campus. Welcome to MIT.
HOCHMAN: Thank you, President Hockfield, for those very interesting information, particularly hearing about the exciting research and implementation going on at MIT transporting us to Switzerland and also for sending us on edge for the words of our next speaker. There are detailed biographies of the speakers in your program books, but I would like to highlight some facets of our next speaker, Professor Nazli Choucri. In addition to being a professor at MIT's political science department, she is also associated director of the technology and development program and head of the Middle East program at MIT.
Professor Choucri's primary research focus is in international relations and international political economy with a special focus on conflict, connectivity, and the global environment. This puts her in a particularly advantageous perspective to comment on the broader context of the energy challenges we now face-- political, economic, and strategic, as well as the types of coordination that the major nations of the world will need to develop to ensure our energy future. I'd also like to mention that there are microphones located in the aisles. If you have questions, please feel free to line up at the microphones. So please join me in welcoming Professor Nazli Choucri.
CHOUCRI: Thank you, Ira, for this very gracious introduction. I'm going to ask you to work with me as we place energy in a global context. And part of what I will say will not seem obvious as to what the energy connections are, and this is where your homework comes in helping me out on this.
So am I doing this right. Hmm. This is not my machine. I have no clue how this thing works. Okay we'll try again. Ah, it's this way?
HOCHMAN: It's it right here.
CHOUCRI: Yeah. Good. This is the social sciences. I'm going to be talking about three issues, and each one of them is really quite important. The first is to take stock of the legacy of the 20th century.
What is it that we're carrying with us today? The second is to look at the global system as a whole and in what I will refer to as some odd views of the system and finally, some political realities for energy in the 21st century. So we'll take those one at a time.
On the legacies, I've chosen to focus on four core ones and then look at some of the surprises-- the good news, the bad news, and the unexpected from which I will ask. So I will propose the balance sheet.
What do we have? What do we get out of this? What are the net effects? So on the legacies, the ones that I have chosen are self-evident, but there are surprises in each one of them.
The first is population dynamics, and we're all familiar with the rabbit population growth almost in one word. Then the issue of some issues related to technology and implications for energy use. Some energy basics in the really most basic sense is seen from a political scientist. And then a reminder, the fourth legacy is a reminder of the new global agenda-- the new global political agenda-- the world out there that is changing, perhaps far more rapidly than we are able to understand or accommodate it.
So one legacy at a time-- on population dynamics, we all know that there are more people on this planet. We also know that there's some important demographic shifts. We're not exactly sure what the shifts are or how important they are, but we know they're out there.
And then finally, the biggest legacy we have of the 20th century is the matter of crossing borders. Just about everybody on this planet is on the move for one reason or another. And every move is related to some increment of energy use. The statistics that we have about mobility of people and the venues and the duration and the location and the sources and the consequences are not quite synchronized with the knowledge that we need with respect to the associated energy uses.
So first, the familiar which is more people on this planet that I don't need to say anything more about it. The insert here is perhaps a little less familiar, and this is, believe it or not, there has been a slight improvement in the human condition since over the past century or so in the sense that the share of the poor has declined. Now you may consider that good news, but placed in the context of the demands and the needs of the poor population, that's not as good news as we would want. And then let's factor in the energy requirements almost by necessity, as we all become wealthier, richer, better off, and so forth.
And here's a minor footnote-- the individual-- Joe Smith, let's say, John Doe-- living in China is embedded in an energy infrastructure that is quite different. So his own individualized per capita consumption is very different than if Joe Smith or John Doe, whoever it is moves to Los Angeles. And the same individual, nothing is strange about him or her-- simply the infrastructure within which he works has changed. And there the energy numbers look quite different.
As a simple reminder as to the mobility of people-- now this is very misleading because I should give you the other side of it, which I'm not going to give you-- and that is the percentage of the migrants to the total population, which is not in this case. The only thing I want to draw your attention to is that movement across borders generating a stock measured at one point in time is very, very large.
And the word migrant here refers to a voluntary movement-- people who willingly decide to cross borders. Most people, let me put it differently. That's a large fraction of crossing borders that is not voluntary. That too carries with it some energy-related coefficients, leaving aside the coefficients related to justice, quality of life, et cetera.
So what I've covered so far are related to basic facts. Let's talk about some surprises. And this is where I ask you to consider the implications.
The first surprise has to do with the unexpected, declines in fertility. We had never thought 50 years ago, 60 years ago, 30 years ago-- over 30 years ago when I joined the MIT faculty that we would consider this an issue decline. And I'll get to do that in more that in a minute. The second surprise is the dependency ratio in population. And then finally, the aging society-- the aging society is a correlate. It is connected to, tightly coupled tightly with the industrializing society.
So the question to you is the quiz for this morning is, do you see any energy-related impacts either on the demand side or on the distribution side or other infrastructure requirements side, or is this just a blip in our statistics? And hey, life is complicated. So let's look at the fertility declines.
What you see here is a fairly good representation of what we now understand to be a basic fact, and this is in industrialized countries, the populations are not reproducing themselves. Now we consider that a problem. One could consider that a problem. In the old days, the only problem we're familiar with is rapid population growth. Too many people are having too many children.
And I'm not passing judgment here. I'm simply saying that this is a surprise because we had not expected it. We had not looked for it. We had not anticipated it.
And this comes from the economists. And I just love this one for the following reasons. There were plenty of clues before the popular press picked up the fact that the Russians were disappearing. And here it has to do mainly with the fertility side that the death rate and the life expectancy of Russian-- then the Soviet population-- was going down, having to do with health-related issues, having to do with inhaling too many stuff that's not good for you, et cetera.
And we saw that long before were able to connect energy, climate change potentials, pollution, and health-- pieces that we now take for granted as going together. This is not very good news for the Russians-- at least I don't think it's good news for them. And the standard policy that countries have when faced with news that they don't consider good is to try to do something. And we know based on the history of the advanced industrial countries that it is any policy to try to increase the fertility rate.
And an advanced industrial country is doomed to failure-- has failed to no end. Case in point here would be France. This is probably more than you really want to know, but it's not connecting much more closely to the energy issue. And I just want to draw your attention to the solid black line, which is the rising dependency ratio, which is the ratio of the non-working population to the working population. And we really don't want to have this dependency ratio go up because it means that the working population has to support a larger fraction of the total population.
So on the quiz sheet for this morning is, is this trend that we now think is fairly robust-- is it neutral with respect to energy effects on any dimension of the energy issue? Now we move on to the technology parts. And in this audience, I will not presume to say anything technical on the technology aspect. But I will focus specifically on three issues that are fundamentally important legacies of the 20th century and are going to face shape how we deal with the 21st century on energy issues and just about everything else under the sun.
The first is globalization and the persistence of this thing that we call globalization. We did the rough census of what globalization means, and I won't bore you with varieties of definitions that we came up with in the literature and in the popular press. But the fact is everything is crossing borders, whether it's people, ideas, things, and so forth.
The second issue is globalization. And no, I did not make this word up. This comes from the United Nations' coining of this concept to reflect the conjunction of globalization processes but the localization effects of globalization-- so the linkages between globalization and localization.
The interesting thing here is that we now know that are many local effects that have been generated by the globalization process. So it's not a decoupling. It's a recoupling in a different way.
What we don't yet know is how we can connect this fact, I would say, to our energy policies, our energy strategies, and of course, to the application of innovation in this area. So consider this the next item on the quiz.
The third energy issue that is very, very important goes without saying is the global race for knowledge. It's not the global arms race of the olden days. But it is a race, nonetheless. And what I will draw your attention to in just in just a minute is the impact of this race on one particular domain, and that is the shifts. What has this done to shift the way in which we organize and think about our social activities and about where value added is or added value is-- sources of added value?
There are multiple indicators of globalization. I don't need to persuade you that there is something going on out there in the world.
At the simplest, a trend I could get around which there would be no controversy more or less is world trade. So take that as an indicator. Most interesting, however, is the impact of knowledge and density-- the impact of shifting this structure of economies and the structure of societies. And we're moving in that direction.
And as we go down that path, what implications are there for energy? I would like to think that it's got to be only good news, but I'm an optimist. So what we've already started to see as a legacy from the 20th century is a gradual shift from the strict thinking about supply chain requirements as being anchors of meeting supply chain requirements as being anchors due to the economy and to the social order to thinking about the knowledge chain.
And what we're doing here at MIT is beginning to formalize and clarify what would be meant by the knowledge chain and at which point societies gain by reducing disconnects among various links to that chain. We've also seen shifts from material output that wish to have expanded material output to the wish to have better ways of meeting social needs. We're seeing shifts from knowledge access reducing barriers to access to enhancing, facilitating venues for knowledge generation and knowledge creation.
So we're beginning to think of knowledge not as the residual in the proverbial textbook case of the production function in the old days, but as really endogenizing the entire process. And then the final shift that is the most fabulous of all at this point in time-- and it was alluded to earlier by President Hockfield-- is that the interest that we have in contributing to the diffusion and the distribution of knowledge.
Now this sounds very much like motherhood and an apple pie, and I certainly don't mean to sound that way. What I do want to say is that if we can understand and unbundle the knowledge chain and if we can locate the value of doing this with respect to our energy dilemmas, challenges, problems, we might be one step ahead in framing our response policies.
Surprises-- what are the surprises from a socioeconomic and political point of view. And to me, the most obvious surprise of all, looking back at the 20th century and if we were anticipating technological changes would have been very difficult then at the beginning of the 20th century to have correctly anticipating the forging of virtual space-- cyberspace, the internet, et cetera. To the architects of this space, the focus has been on the internet and the wires and whatever else goes into this thing.
But for the social scientists and for the users is the creation forging of new spaces, new arenas of interactions and new voicing and new opportunities and again, connect new voicing and new opportunities to who is doing the voicing and who is doing the opportunities and what difference it might make. The last piece-- the last mile, if you wish-- is the wireless connections as part of this bundle of surprises. I'll get to that in just a moment too. The second surprise is that environment does, in fact, matter. It's not something that we would have anticipated early in the 20th century.
And then the third surprise is the dark side-- that states are at risk from factors that we did not expect them to be at risk from. So what now who or what next?
Opportunities-- this is an example of internet generated revenues. I don't have the sources here for which I apologize, but it comes from an economist report. And the amount in the axis is in the Bs, of course, so more. With more comes more regulatory stuff. As a political scientist, I take it for granted that any new activity creates a new bureaucracy of some sort.
Now that is not really good news. It may be necessary, but it's not really good news because we know that major, major, major disconnects in just basic communication among bureaucracies and among agencies who have the same mission statement create. We're creating a headache for ourselves that we may not necessarily want to. Another part of the technological surprise-- and I put it on the side of technology here as opposed to on the side of the ledger of the social scientists who could have tried a little harder to anticipate some of those differences-- there are two pieces of the surprises that are important in terms of the environmental effects of our industrialization trajectory.
One is the differential impacts across and within countries, which you know. But second is that there are going to be already but will continue to be more burdens on the poor everywhere in all societies, this society as well. Does energy policy factor into this at all? By now, you may think that the connection between energy and the issues that I'm raising is far too long. The chain there is too long. But let me assure that it really is not if you consider it carefully because we're also seeing, anticipating the prospects of more social cleavages as potential effects of climate change arise.
The next item on this checklist is the erosion of the power of governance and the power of institutions if they get overloaded by the effects of the transformations in the natural environment. Without spending too much time on this, the other side of the loss of law and order is the growth in individual entrepreneurship-- self-help, if you wish. And remember societies are organized to prevent excessive self-help. So what we worry about here is that we have not thought enough about the potential consequences on the social order of this particular surprise.
And now we understand that this is terrifically important and where are-- the at least in the [INAUDIBLE] science department-- spending serious time looking at that issue. There is some attempt to measure the international impacts of potential climate change. If you notice a highlight potential just in case the controversy is on this issue. And the climate change index is now considered as plausibly accurate with respect to countries at risk-- at risk with respect to health hazards, physical, and physical conditions as well as immediate environmental impact or environmental dislocation.
This is not really very good news. But I think that as we think about the energy, climate or energy environment linkages, we're going to have to recognize that there are significant high probability outcomes that we're going to have to deal with somewhat seriously. And I identified sharing with you two of those here.
The first bullet is respective 10 countries that are high in terms of overall risk, and you have the list of the countries here. But these are countries that so far account for a very small amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these countries will be going under reconstruction programs. And so the challenge is how can we best engage in reconstruction without putting in place the energy economy interactions that were destroyed to begin with?
And President Hockfield referred to efficiencies on the MIT campus. Can efficiencies be imposed upon, transferred portable to large-scale reconstruction efforts. We hope so, but the records so far in terms of the reconstruction of destroyed economies over the last decade or so shows us that we are very good at reconstructing what we've already destroyed. We're not good at putting in place the new generations of technologies that are already available to us.
Okay, this is a simple reminder of the distribution of who's going to be in pain on this one and without any statement about the nature of the pain. And now I get to the darker side-- the countries at risk-- at risk of conflict or at risk of being the recipient of unhappiness that is generated elsewhere associated with climate-related issues. There is a concentration, as you can see, in the African continent.
There are also a bunch of other concentrations. The interesting thing about this is that this assessment comes out of the community that focuses on climate-related impacts, and the fact that they're concerned with conflict at exactly the time in which the political conflict community in political science is beginning to think about the environmental effect is an example of the type of coupling that we've started to do and we're getting to be much more involved with.
And let me stress the obvious by way of indicating how important this is, the coupling part, and that is the social sciences as all of the sciences but only with the social sciences were framed and developed over time by very carefully carving out, partitioning human activity out of the natural environment and looking at the space and then very carefully cutting out pieces of human activity. So you have the politics for the political scientists, economics for the economists, and so forth knowing that the world is not that way, but understanding that this is how we will generate knowledge faster. Now we realize that the strategy that has been very successful throughout the 20th century and before is a major liability today.
So now what we're trying to do is put Humpty Dumpty together again but in a way that does not undermine the growth and the strength of the individual disciplines and in the individual fields. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. But the more important and the more serious part of this is that the need to reconnect is one that comes from within the fields, so there's a very powerful realization that we have to reshape our system boundaries and our field boundaries. Now the issue of energy basics, the third set of legacies.
Fossil fuels, the usual-- I don't need to review that with you. The second legacy has to do with the continued politicization of energy. Energy, as you know, is intensely political issues across the globe-- maybe with the exception of legislation budgets. There's a search for alternatives-- the usual, maybe more than usual.
But then we have the mess in the Middle East, which is clearly more than the usual. When you put all these things together, we have some immediate short-term dilemmas. We won't call them crises. And Professor Deutsch may address those in a few minutes.
But what I'd like to do is share with you the view that the usual is a bit more messy than it has been in the past. This is a simple reminder of the flow of exports of oil and global oil. I just picked this one up because the message is very, very clear.
And you see the salience and the centrality of the Middle East and followed by a vision from The Boston Globe in 1986. This actually is very accurate. '86 is decades ago.
I mean, you're familiar with this, but there is, unfortunately, one more angle on that, which is this way. The message here may not be what you think it is. It has to do with in addition to this mess, we have a mess where the many, many players-- not all of which are controlled by states, and not all of which define winning and losing the same way.
This is the complexity of the Middle East. The good news is that this particular cartoon is not about a major oil-producing or natural gas producing region. It is differences of perspective over a non-oil-producing area. So if we take this cartoon and put it on the future of Saudi Arabia or the future of Iran or the future of you name your favorite oil producer, we have a slightly complicated situation that's going to create imperatives for us right now.
This is one of the most powerful legacies of the 20th century. Just to show you that I'm able to be even-handed on this comes from Time Magazine. You may not be able to see it. So I'll tell you why this is interesting. It is a set of instances in which the good guys-- by the good guys, I mean countries like Norway-- begin to do some rather unpleasant things over resource-related matters and energy-related matters.
And the case in which the clashes-- this is a case of Japan between Japanese fishermen and the Russian Navy. And then we have the Chinese and [INAUDIBLE] this right-- oh, sorry, shouldn't touch this stuff-- help. Can somebody come?
I'm sorry. I'm not going to be embarrassed, so don't try. Okay, eventually, you can get the hard copy of this. I apologize because it's not very clear.
But the Russians tried to pressure the Georgians by boycotting their wine and their mineral water over some dispute, and that had some connections to the pricing of imports and exports of commodities. Now the surprise in the energy from the social science point of view. First, we hadn't expected the breakdown of the Soviet Union. It came too quick, too fast, and too thorough.
But what it did do is shift control over known energy resources. The new state owners have new priorities. And most of the time, we're not exactly sure what their priorities are, so the uncertainties for us go up.
And I do want to talk about security issues. This is just legacies. And the bottom line of this on the political economy of energy that's been handed to us from the 20th century is uncertainties about who controls what in the shorter time horizon. Now to the fourth and last part of the legacy of the 20th century.
I've picked up what I believe to be the ones that will remain powerful throughout the 21st century. The salience of environment is very, very, very unlikely that this is an issue that will go away unless we become unbelievably creative more than we can imagine. The evidence that we have so far-- and regretfully, I don't have that on the slide for you-- is the enormous growth of international environmental treaties-- multilateral treaties. This is not treaties that contain an environmental component clause in it, but focusing specifically on environment. And the most interesting thing about that is that the trend of global environmental treaty-making looks exactly the same as the trend of US participation environmental treaty-making.
So all things considered, what we've gotten from the 20th century is a very high participation rate by the United States. The second major issue on the global agenda that is clearly new is the issue of sustainability and sustainable development. And now when you drill into the issue, we come up against sustainability, sustainable energy as strategies for the sustainableness of energy issues. That, of course, is part of the research agenda here.
The next item that is part of the global agenda-- and by global agenda, I mean the global political agenda and its connections to our own research agenda-- is getting a better handle on the not so much the sources of potentials for climate change. This is fairly well understood. What is not understood is the nature of the consequences once you get beyond the general averages or the general statements, particularly those consequences for which it is possible to intervene today effectively piece of an important research agenda.
The fourth item on the new global agenda for politics and the world and for the academy is revisiting the fundamentals. The fundamentals and economic performance and economic growth in the past has always been efficiency. Efficiency is really important. Now we factor in looking for the possibility of coupling efficiency and equity. Can it be done? We are assuming that it can be done.
So the pursuit of efficiency in economic activity, in policy but constraining that in some fashion with a serious attention to equity-- equity measures of equity. And this then leads us to the final item on the new global agenda that I would like to share with you, and that is there is a trend out there in the political world, in the UN world seeking to define global public goods.
And at academy, were trying to articulate how one can actually think about funding money, articulating funding and implementing any notion of global public goods. This is more than international. This is more than transnational. This is addressing the nature and the composition of the responsibility that civil society at the global level has to itself.
So the dangers on the environment side-- we've gone through this before. But I do want to draw your attention to the very last item on that, and that is matters related infrastructure. It goes without saying that most of us believe that if there is serious potential of climate change, if there is sea level rise, et cetera, et cetera, the odds are very, very high that our physical infrastructures are going to be affected very, very deeply seriously.
So what do we do? Balance sheet now on the legacies of the 20th century-- the good news and the bad news. The good news that we are going to be calling the three Es is coupled with some bad news that we're going to call the missing piece.
The three Es is we understand some, but we understand the need for better understanding the interconnections between energy, environment, and economy. That's a message that we all have, and it's reflected in our course offerings as well. That's the good news.
Now the missing piece or the bad news is that what we are ignoring some important political realities because politics is uncomfortable business, and we don't like to deal with this unless we have to for professional reasons. And that is the reality is our participation. Remember the internet and the virtual spaces-- more people, more demands, more noises, et cetera. Power and power differentials-- who's going to be at the table once we think about the new energy management regimes? The Kyoto Protocol is up for reconsideration I guess in six years or so.
Well, who's going to be sitting at that table other than countries? And then finally, the issue of politics-- we talk about energy policy. We do research on energy policy. We're beginning to think about the politics associated with getting the legislature to understand that these are important issues or getting the EU or getting the German chancellor who has been very successful in the last few days to convince her colleagues that the energy environment is an important global issue.
From a political scientist's point of view, the missing piece constitutes very bad news. And so we have a responsibility to try to factor in politics back into the energy economy environment mix. Let me turn now to the second item for today.
There's a light here that's going to start blinking when I should stop. So whenever it starts blinking, I will stop. I'd like to give you some sense of the global system today based on the principle on what you see depends on how you look at it.
Please take that seriously, even though this sounds like a trite observation because I will show you some multiple realities, the size of those realities on a global basis. And you can think of this as footprints or as burdens or whatever, but this is the world out there. We'll start with the relative view of the people, the power, and the pain.
This is the total world population. There's a familiar world map kind of adjusted a little bit to the relative demographic statistics per country. And this is the same world map adjusted a little bit to the same people but warring from 1945 to two years ago. People at war, so to speak, or populations at war.
And this is the same global map inflated by percentage of military spending for the year 2002. Now the only purpose of all this-- there's a whole bunch of that we will share with you-- is that these are conventional indicators. And hey, this is the way life is.
But then we have some even maybe conventional but seriously unpleasant situations that if we can actually locate those landmines and if we can seriously think about reconstructing those areas in which the landmines were there, have been put in place, what's the energy strategy for doing this? The past has shown us that we usually build what we already know how to build, which is built into inefficiencies-- what happens next. This is who died violently, and this is who died through self-death. Now suicide is the word.
In the social sciences, we think of suicide as a reliable indicator of unhappiness. This is at the individual level. But what happens if we try to talk about aggregate unhappiness? And I'm not trying to draw too much into this distortion. This is telling us that if we violate the ecological fallacy, which is you can generalize from the individual to the state, then we have sources of real unhappiness in the globe that we haven't seriously paid attention to.
The next two slides are the missing pieces of the migration that I showed you a long time ago. And this is people leaving. Where are they leaving from? And they're not leaving voluntarily. Now remember when people cross borders, they come with their claims and their demands on infrastructure, including energy.
So this is where they have left from not voluntarily-- because of conflict and violence. And again, refugees are not part of the migration statistics. It's a different category. And this is where they go to.
The interesting thing about this other than the most obvious is the mutual concentration in an area which is Europe and Africa and the rest of the globe. Well, we know we're going to have under normal circumstances, not refugee-related massive investments in infrastructure.
Now, the good news-- views of the world in terms of human creativity using patents as an example and internet usage indicating from my point of view the ability for individuals to participate or to express themselves. This is patents granted in 2002.
Is there anything odd about this map? Does anything strike you as not the way we would wish it to be? There was a question earlier to President Hockfield about the extent to which we consider economic issues when we think about energy and energy futures.
We do consider them very much. Before seeing this particular map, I had not expected the dual balloon view. I'd expect the concentration to be much more on the Western side. And this is internet users in 2002.
For me, internet users represent voicing of individuals. It's the first time in human history that an individual unit, a statistic, as opposed to an aggregate, is able to articulate anything on in any communication venue on a global scale. So that's the other side of the world that we live-- another view other views of the world that we live in.
A couple more things before we move on to the political realities-- think of these are just descriptors-- the past wealth, the carbon emissions, and the future wealth. This is the wealth of the globe at the beginning of the last century. This is the wealth, the carbon emissions, and you see that's not too difficult. And this is the wealth of the globe in 2015.
There's a big green chunk in there that was not anticipated before. Now let's turn to the real thing, which is the political realities, the politics of energy for the 21st century. And only thing I will do is highlight structural features-- the parameters of the game rather than policy features.
What should we tweak here and there? Again, this is what we now have to live with. We have more global volatility. It goes without saying. We have more sovereign states.
We have more intergovernmental agencies. We have more multinational corporations. That, I suppose, is the good news.
But we also have more non-governmental organizations. Now the combination of all these mores creates a very interesting political algorithm. Just a quick view of each one of those-- the more nation-states, more civil wars, and more terrorist rebel groups in the very recent years. We call this volatility.
This is the creation of new states now think about new states as every one of those entities has a vote-- positive, negative, or neutral-- and is sitting at the table and is actually sitting at all environment and all energy-related negotiation tables. The larger the number of individual decision entities, states, the more complicated things become, but this is the world we live in. The UN membership more, the establishment of leading intergovernmental organization, which is bureaucracies at the global level, more. And then we have more multinationals.
And here the figures speak for themselves. Let me draw your attention to the very last bullet, and that is 50 of the world's largest-- 50th largest economies are not countries. They're corporations.
So the economic size is massive. The political vote can never be direct, of course, because corporations, they'll sit around the table as individual voters. They sit around the table as part of the lobbyists or the supporters of individual states. And the difficulty there, of course, is that the global corporations have global interests that don't always map to those of the individual states.
And here is the really, really newcomer of structural features of the world, and that is the growth in non-governmental organizations-- otherwise known as NGOs, otherwise known as interest groups that are organized to do good things in the world, to do better in the world, et cetera. Two points are relevant here.
One is they have actually been able to secure a seat at the table at the political table and international forums, not voting, but they are there. And they make their views known. Second important thing that's really important is that these are entities without accountability. There is no mechanism that has yet been invented to make these entities accountable to anyone, really, except themselves if they have an accountability mechanism.
So we consider that important and interesting because it's an example of incomplete institutional design. It's very unlikely that the situation will remain as it is. But because the voices are so strong and they're very, very strong and very organized, on both sides of the energy issues-- whatever the sides might be-- that these are very well worth watching.
So what does all this mean? And what does all this mean if we think about global energy strategies and global energy situations for the remainder of the century in the context of the priorities of the nation and the priorities from a scientific point of view? What it means is really quite simple. It's started to blink, so I have to speed it up here.
There are more stakes and more stakeholders-- please notice I didn't use the word stock and stockholder's interests-- more constraints on decision, more possibilities for spoilers, and then, of course, more limits on the use of force. There are some things that we really can't use the traditional instruments of violence that has been so effective in the past. So the bottom line is that we are looking for-- there's more need of the politics of consensus. Politics, by definition, is about competing, competition, and about conflict.
Now we're trying to figure out how to push the envelope on the collaboration and on the proverbial win-win-win-win situations. That is part of actually thinking about new strategies for negotiation, assuming we have developed the national consensus on what we need to do. Now is not clear to me that we have a national consensus yet, but let's assume we'll have one soon. We then have to move that consensus and try to influence the global arena.
If it's the politics of consensus, that means let's talk, and there are some barriers to being able to speak clearly for this reason. And that is that on the one hand, we're moving to a world where individuals and peoples begin to matter, that peoples are not always willing to be funneled through their national governments. Every one of the governments, of course, speaks English, so this is not relevant to them. But on the other hand, we've got to figure out how to reduce the gap in communication and in the disconnects in our respective communications of which language is one of the more pervasive barriers.
So conclusion-- I have two conclusions. So conclusion number one is restating the obvious. I think, okay, okay, okay, okay. Be very fast.
The second bullet, we have to pay an inheritance tax. We've got this legacy. Let's pay the tax. Not let's pay-- we're going to have to. And we can minimize the pain.
This is my last slide. So allow me to take it slowly, because it's rather important. We've learned a couple of things from the legacy of the 20th century wait, okay.
One is context matters, et cetera, et cetera. The one that is most serious-- this is my last sentence, I promise-- the most serious from an analytical point of view, challenging from an analytical point of view, most challenging and one that we're trying to deal with is the third bullet. And that is to take into account the time factor.
Time is money. We know that. And time marches along somehow. We know that too.
But what else this time do? Now it's your turn to answer the question. Thank you.
CHOUCRI: I do? Oh. So apparently, there is time for questions. Yep.
AUDIENCE: Hello, I believe that we are in an emergency situation as we speak right now. And I define emergency as when you see the bullet coming at you, and you know there's not enough time to get out of the way. In particular, I think the emergency is one of oil. I've seen recent articles in the Wall Street Journal where there was a clarion cry by several accounts for large oil companies.
I've spoken privately with someone who was on the board of a major oil company in the last five years. There was also a public statement made by the CEO of Total S.A. That there was no possible way that we can meet the projected growth and the oil requirements of the world.
And I believe that we're looking at a permanent and growing worldwide oil shortage in approximately 5 to 10 years, and we're out of time where changing out the transportation fleet takes about 20 years. So my questions to you are, first, is this recognized in the energy staff of MIT? Two, given that this would be true, what are the implications for the economy and political structure and stability of the United States? And three, what are the implications for world war in a situation like this?
The answer to the first question is is, yes, it's recognized, and that's a very important footnote here. For those of us that were members of the faculty in 1973 when the first oil crisis-- the first big one-- the Institute's response was the establishment of the Energy Lab, if you recall. Several of us were talking the other day about the very unfortunate deja vu image. We've gone through this before.
If we didn't know that this was 2000-something, it could have been 1973 with respect to oil in a very narrow way. That particular crisis disappeared.
As you remember, the decade of the '80s, things went smoother. So I would say it's a little worse than you have described it because, now, not only do we have this oil business-- and there hasn't been any good news on the oil front for quite a while-- I didn't show you the real scary part, which is the refinery.
The refineries are operating almost at full capacity, and that as they say in very good news just pushing on the infrastructure. In addition to this, we have all this other stuff that's come along, which is the CO2 stuff, which was not part of the 1973 oil crisis. We didn't recognize it at the time. With respect to world war, the core of what I do is conflict and violence.
Why do people go to war? And when is this going to happen, et cetera? So I expect war any time. I think I that I do not want to get into this. I also teach Middle East politics, so you can imagine how-- that's it?
MODERATOR: One more over here.
AUDIENCE: I have one. Am I on?
CHOUCRI: Okay. Yeah.
CHOUCRI: Well, Iraq's oil is not flowing.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] it's the whole region-- Iraq, Iran [INAUDIBLE]
CHOUCRI: Let me say the premise first. It's not clear to me that the US presence is a major contributor to stability in the region because the instabilities don't come from governments anymore. They come from groups, people, terrorist, good guy, whatever.
The real instability is happening because governments are losing control over their people-- so with or without the US troops there. And unless the US is going to try, which is impossible, my colleagues tell me, because of the constraints, the limits on manpower in the military to really police the entire region. So the bottom line is it's not clear to me whether the physical presence contributes to stability or fuels instability.
AUDIENCE: Hi, can you hear me?
AUDIENCE: Okay, I thought you said a couple of really good things, and I want to repeat them.
CHOUCRI: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: And then I have sort of a general concern, but I won't really name that. And I'm going to ask a specific question. So one of the big factors in my life-- and maybe it sounds like in yours-- is to help people talk better about politics. Because as you mentioned, people find it very uncomfortable. And unless you're a professional, people almost don't want to do it.
So you're one of our few. I'm on the other side. I'm not a professional. I never want to be. But I want to talk about it, so I want to learn how to talk about it.
So the other thing you said that I really liked was that it was on this slide about the world languages. And you said-- let me find the quote-- here it is. There are some barriers to speaking clearly. And I think that sentence to me encapsulates the entire problem of talking about politics.
There are so many barriers to clarity. And in that vein, I'd like to ask for clarity on your numerous pictures that showed the pretty graphics of the world shapes. And I didn't know what the size of the country meant as opposed to like, for example, it seems like there are borders.
They're always there and no matter what. And the colors also change. And I wasn't sure what color was what because it didn't clearly represent a rainbow to me.
MODERATOR: That was the last question.
CHOUCRI: First of all, I apologize for not being clear at the very beginning about those maps. This is a representation. These were distortions of the territory-based maps that we're familiar with. Pick up any atlas, you see the political boundaries. So it's just readjusting the boundaries by the relative size of the US population relative to the total population.
The colors were not meant to be happy colors, rainbows. It just were just those colors. And about talking about politics, I only do it in class. I can't give you any advice.
And my last statement is this. It's in the form of a PR for the research that we're doing, but it's rather interesting or important. And that is the global system for sustainable development is a knowledge networking system, distributed system that is mirror sited in China and currently going to be mirror sited in Lebanon. It operates in four languages, two of which are not really your common normal languages of everyday discourse in the United States-- Arabic and Chinese, English, of course, and the fourth is French. And given the fact that the world's population is not English speaking, we're very pleased and very proud to be able to operate in at least two of the major non-Western languages where we know there are lots of people that don't speak English.
So if you have a chance, take a look at the GSSD website because this is a typical MIT product. And what is not typical is that it comes out of the social sciences as opposed to the rest of the campus. Thank you.
HOCHMAN: Well, I'd like to say that I'm thrilled and privileged to introduce Professor John Fernandez. Part of the reason I'm thrilled is because as of about 8:00 PM last night, he was trapped in the New Orleans airport. And despite FAA computer crashes and tropical weather systems, he managed to make his way here today.
So I really am thrilled to be able to introduce Professor John Fernandez. An associate professor of building technology in the MIT department of architecture and a practicing architect, Professor Fernandez primarily focuses his research on the materials of buildings and the design of assemblies for resource efficient built environment.
Lately, his interests have been centered on the emerging opportunities for linking design, urban planning, and building technologies in the creation of green cities and resilient communities. This morning, Professor Fernandez will address the growing challenge of limited global resources amid an ever-expanding urban world. Please join me in welcoming Professor John Fernandez.
FERNANDEZ: Can you hear me? Mic's on. I have to do a little A/V shift here.
The A/V person asked me to do this. I think I can do it. Although I'm MIT faculty, so it might take a little bit. There we go. Okay, yes, I was in New Orleans yesterday.
I flew in this morning. I did have a beautiful black suit picked out. It's at home. I do bike into work every day, so I rummaged through my office. And I found this.
So please bear with me. I'm thrilled to be here. I am part of the department of architecture. We're a little department at MIT just across the street. I'm class of '85 from that department and back as faculty.
Thank you to Ira, to the Tech Day committee for inviting me. I just want to take a minute and thank the class of 1957, not just because it is your 50th, but because that class was very generous in supporting my work the last few years as a career development professor. So I really very much appreciate that.
Clearly, the topic of resources and energy in particular is the topic of the day. It's going to be the topic of generations to come. That's for certain. I'm trained as an architect, so my expertise is in buildings.
But in the last few years, I've spent quite a lot of time on linking resources and design and engineering of buildings. If you want to pick one of Professor Deutsch's has strategies for dealing with the energy issue, my talk would probably fall under moderate demand-- how to design better buildings and how to design them in a way that people reduce their demand. In last several years, I've actually spent quite a bit of time with a variety of organizations, including architectural design firms, various companies, now several cities.
And I'm coming to the conclusion that the momentum is there. It's not political momentum. It is grassroots momentum for a better built environment.
I like organized presentations. I'm a bit compulsive. This is organized around three questions.
Okay, first, it is really important to be very clear about what the built environment is, what am I talking about, and I'll delve into that second is how much of our global resources are consumed by that environment, not only in operation, but also in construction and demolition. And given what we know from answers from the first two questions, should we even change? Do we need to change?
Will change in the built environment make much of a difference? I'm going to throw out a lot of information, lots of pretty pictures. I am an architect. So I'm hoping that you can make your own decision about whether the built environment usually left out of the discussion on energy-- I should say often left out-- should be part of the core discussion of energy and global climate change issues. So let's see what we can get out of this effort.
I have 40 minutes. I'm hitting a real brick wall in terms of the schedule, and that's lunch at one o'clock. So I'll make sure to try to get you to your lunch on time.
Okay, so what's the built environment? Let's revert to some fundamentals. The built environment very directly stated is that which provides shelter, always has provided shelter. It's one of three very basic fundamental needs of the human species, food and water being the other two.
There are very, very few places on Earth where you can live without shelter. The critical role of shelters hasn't changed, but the diversity of shelters, buildings has changed as our activities have evolved and become much, much more diverse.
So here this is actually a photograph of a new building here in Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Arts. When shelter was first invented, there was no such thing as contemporary arts. So the diversity of activities has really exploded, and that's why the built environment looks the way it does today.
Our first understanding of the world was very much about where you could live and where you couldn't, what was habitable, and what was inhabitable. And creating shelter that allowed migration and settlement was the beginning of the making of the largest, longest lasting most material intensive, and now one of the most energy intensive things we've ever made as a species. And that's what I want to call the built environment.
This is actually an image from a colleague of mine Ann Spurn in architecture. Over time, very slowly at first, domestication agriculture-- we all know this story-- along with a building arts led to the creation of settlements. And this has not abated ever since.
Huge proportions of our extracted material and energy resources have been devoted to the making of buildings, settlements, roads, dams-- all the infrastructure that we depend on so that today, this is what we have. This is the built environment. This could be many different cities.
Concrete is the primary material used to build the built environment. It's actually the second most consumed material in the world, second only to water by people. And actually, concrete also-- I don't have this in my script here-- but concrete contributes some somewhere between 6% and 8% of all CO2 emissions-- so 6% to 8% of total CO2 emissions. Let me give you some facts on where we are with the built environment on a global scale.
So within the last year, this past year or 18 months, or two years-- it depends on who you're talking to-- the global urban population has surpassed 50%. Now 50% of the world lives in cities, and that will continue to increase. Projections say pretty much forever, but that's predicting the future. I won't be here in 75 years. So it's an easy prediction to make.
A majority of that urban population's within easy reach of the coast. The fastest growing urban populations by far are located in Asia and Africa, and China now astoundingly accounts for one half of all construction in the world. As a result, there are significant resource issues to consider.
80% of CO2 emissions is caused directly or indirectly by people living in cities. 75% of wood consumption is used for construction and fuel in cities, and 60% of water withdrawals also occurs to serve the residents of cities. This is an urban world that is also a very poor world, and we should take note-- although I won't go into that discussion today-- that that's a really significant issue because that level of affluence will most likely increase. And that's a big factor that we will have to take in terms of resource consumption in the future cities.
On the homefront in the US, the built environment amounts to 130 million residential buildings. We add approximately 1.8 million residents annually depending on the economy, six million commercial buildings, 170,000 new buildings of this type annually. And we demolish about 50,000 buildings a year-- commercial buildings a year-- that again also varies significantly with the economy.
The bad news is that cities tend to promote more intense resource consumption on a per capita basis. It's partly due because the logistics of housing large numbers of people, getting them to work, having places for them to work, industries located around cities, but also the affluence that's gained from living in cities and working in cities and shopping in cities. Take, for example, the increasing popularity of air conditioners in cities around the world.
Now I want to pause here for a second and say that I'm part of a group called the building technology program. And the people standing behind me for now are Marilyn Anderson, John Ochsendorf, Les Norford, and Leon Glicksman. We do all of this work together. And these air conditioning numbers are something that Leon has talked about for quite some time, and I've taken them to heart.
In China, more than 87 out of 100 urban households now own an air conditioner compared to 24 out of 102,000 seven years ago. As a result, China is now the world's largest producer of air conditioners, and India is following closely behind. Now air conditioning is something that a great deal of the rest of the world is looking forward to. This is happening now and gaining momentum and will continue to happen most furiously in expanding cities. The image I'm showing here is actually a per capita electricity consumption.
Just notice the uptick-- sorry-- the uptick in two-year period in Shanghai, 1995, 1997, massive urbanization liberalization of the housing market, increasing number of air conditioners, and general affluence increasing during that time. It's a 76% increase in electrical consumption in that city over a two-year period. Shanghai, by the way, for the past several years-- looks like next year might be the same-- has added more building space than exists in all of Manhattan. That's every year.
So let's do something here. Let's generalize these ideas. Let's kind of bring them together because there is a really interesting-- I spent a lot of time these past few years with industrial ecologists who referred to the work of natural ecologists. I'll leave it there in terms of the whole ecology debate and is that a science or not.
But there is a very useful concept that I've used in my teaching before. It's the concept of succession, of the idea that there is a dynamic process by which one ecosystem transforms into another over time and seems to be done and seems to happen often in sort of step function. A rainforest will transform into a savanna will transform into a desert depending on a climactic changes and other factors.
One result of succession is that the profile of resource consumption for that location changes dramatically as it goes from one kind of environment to another. We can actually apply this to cities, especially rapidly urbanizing urban centers around the world. And this is one of my own graphs. This comes from research on Chinese cities, a paper I wrote recently published in the journal Industrial Ecology on a massive urbanization of China.
Basically, I think you can break it down into three phases, especially as I said, massively urbanizing, rapidly urbanizing cities. The first phase is additions to stock, and that is an overwhelmingly material intensive phase. The second is a stabilization of that stock. So you're not building as much. It's becoming denser-- maybe geographical limits of the city you're hitting-- and it's tons of fun.
So maybe not adding as much. You're adding quite a lot. And then the third phase is the incremental densification. The third phase is actually an energy intensive phase because once you've added all the stock, the energy consumed by that stock-- stock, I mean buildings-- increases dramatically.
And as those buildings live over time and they're renovated and upgraded and more and more amenities are inserted into them, the energy profile of these cities changes so that this curve, the material curve, goes up and then goes down. So, for example, this is Shanghai few years ago. This is maybe Manhattan or Chicago, and down here, this is Paris.
You don't see a lot of demolition in the center of Paris. You don't see a lot of new buildings. So it's stabilized.
What is important is to notice that there's a change in the nature of the resource consumption. And so right now, all of these Asian cities that are growing rapidly are in here. We have yet to see this part of the curve-- the big energy uptick. So that is what we're facing.
Now consider the fact, as I stated before, that 50% of the world-- more than 3 billion people-- now live in cities, and the world's population curve is headed for something like 9 to 10 billion, 20, 40, 50. If the global urban population increases to a very conservative 60%-- it will more likely be somewhere in the 70s-- at least 5 and 1/2 billion people will eventually be living in these future cities. That's 2 and 1/2 billion more people in cities than today consuming materials and energy at urban rates, not at the rural rate that many of them are now or would have been without massive urbanization. So this is what I mean by the built environment-- snapshot of today, a little bit of the future. Let's go to question two.
How much of our global resources is consumed? I've touched a little bit on a few consumption issues, but let me be a little bit more specific. Let's start with the US. Let's start with the US construction industry. Construction industry is this vast messy thing of 220,000 separate businesses. The construction industry is composed of that many separate businesses.
Most of them 1, 2, 3 person firms. That represents more than $600 billion in annual revenue and employs roughly 2 million people. Notably, this industry fragmented as it is into hundreds of thousands of companies has historically lagged very far behind other large industries in its investment for research and development. You asked the question, why are buildings built the same way today as they were 50, 75 years ago? Well, the industry spends about 1/10 on research and development as any other comparably sized or any other large industry, really, even mid-sized industry.
Let's go to the energy consumption of that building stock in the US now. The built stock is produced by this industry is really one of the-- again, I mentioned that not always mentioned consumer of primary energy. It does account for 40% of primary energy use residential and commercial office buildings also 60% to 70%.
And now I use that range because now I'm talking about developed countries. It's fairly consistent throughout electricity consumption, 60 of 70%. The figure of the 40% increases to 48% if one includes the energy used in manufacture of building materials and construction. Operating buildings contributes over 38% now closely correlated to electrical consumption 38% of carbon emissions of the United States, 38%. These numbers are consistent across the developed world with some notable exceptions.
Now in the developing world, energy consumption devoted to the built environment is a difficult number to get at-- hard to get good data and though there are a number of studies to be done. But we can note a couple of facts that outline the future of energy consumption in the next couple of decades. And using the OECD country designations, in 2015, non-OECD countries will surpass the OECD group in their overall energy consumption, 2015, eight years.
Between now and 2030. Non-OECD countries will account for 3/4 of the increase in energy consumption. That's Asia, Africa, others. And by that year, their energy consumption will exceed that of the OECD by 34%. Let's take one component, only one.
I don't have time to go through heating and cooling and all the other, but let's just take one-- again, one that's not often mentioned and that is the energy and lighting. 19% of global electricity use is devoted to lighting alone-- almost 20%. I love to show this image with this sort of sobering fact before it. Believe me, it gets more positive a little later. I love to show this image below.
I mean, above that fact because this is a design of Santiago Calatrava in Milwaukee Art Museum, and it's a wholly daylit space as part of the main hall. In fact, photograph of MIT undergraduate David Fox, who just graduated a couple of years ago. Okay, let's also talk about construction materials. There's huge material flows associated with the built environment.
In fact, a study showed that 70% by weight of all material flows through most developed industrialized countries is devoted to construction. 20% to 30% of the entire societal waste stream stems from construction and demolition waste or nearly 60% of total nonindustrial waste. Of this construction and demolition waste stream, 48% is a result of demolition, 44% result of renovation, with the remainder being new construction. Today, in the States, we're recovering approximately 20% to 30%-- depending on the year-- of construction and demolition waste.
I know you can't see the thing. That's a million tons. This is year. This is construction. I can't even read it myself.
Industrial and is that agriculture is at the bottom? Yeah, okay, from what I remember. I mean, you can also look at a per capita material consumption in the United States, and these are kind of amusing graphic here. 3.6 million pounds of minerals, metals and fuels are consumed by every American in their lifetime.
A huge bulk of that is construction. The movement on all that material costs a lot of energy. Let's talk just a little bit more about materials because materials is kind of my thing also-- spent a good few years studying the materials of construction.
Looking at the material flows for construction and material flows in society generally has led to some landmark studies recently. Colleague of mine-- well, at Yale-- Tom [INAUDIBLE], he's in the school forestry and the environment has done a whole series of studies on the material flow of the existing stocks of primary metals, and he has shown rather conclusively that a third of that is left in the ground in very low-grade ores. A third is in circulation in buildings like this and automobiles, industrial equipment. And a third has been lost forever in that process dissipated to the environment.
Why is this important or useful to know? Well, we're slowly approaching not limits to growth, but actually, the realization that some of the best locations, some of the richest locations for some of the more important materials we have are not in this kind of place. This is a copper mine. It's just that the mine tailings that you see from the air, an aerial photo. But actually, copper concentrations are now starting to be richest in cities.
This is a graph of actually Beijing. And each one of these bars is not a proposed super skyscraper but the concentration of copper in that city. Let's remember a very prescient, poignant, in fact, quote of Jane Jacobs, "our cities are the minds of the future." Let me tell you my own personal experience, not only in New Orleans specifically, but in other cities.
There's a funny thing that's happened recently. There's a recent emergence of what's called midnight plumbers, and these are in primarily-- they're starting to show up in inner city housing complexes mostly from Baltimore to New Orleans. And what they are, as you can imagine, is they are people who are stripping the plumbing from unoccupied or lightly occupied or temporarily vacant apartments.
And I read an article recently the New York Times, which has had this interesting fact. The landlord had said that he had noticed this was happening, and he had a specific number. He said, when 20 pounds of copper equals or exceeds the minimum wage for one day, you start seeing this stuff showing up. I don't want to talk about limits of growth-- although you can ask me questions about it-- but I do want to talk about the shifting of the location and the accessibility to important materials for society, but also for the built environment, generally.
Now this brings up an issue about the way we treat our buildings because it is very clear that until very recently, the only measure of value for our buildings has been a financial measure. And it's a real estate instrument. It is on a ledger as an abstract thing.
It is not necessarily considered a physical thing. I wish you could hear all the cheers of the crowd here coming out of my laptop. But these buildings have been treated as essentially things that can be moved around the chessboard.
Well, I think we're hitting the time when the up and coming professionals designers, architects, engineers, are starting to see that that's not such an easy game to play any longer, especially with our infrastructure. This was, by the way, was the demolition of the Seattle kingdom, and it was an amazing building. It was actually the longest thin shell concrete span in the world. Its cousin, the pantheon, has lasted for a long time. The Seattle kingdom lasted 25 years.
When it was only 25 years almost, demolished just out of college. And when you read about green buildings, one of the first things you'll read about is green materials, recycled materials, low-energy materials. Well, let's be real.
Actually, in terms of societal consumption of materials, it's pretty clear we're not being any more renewable than we used to be-- so say, 1950 proportion. So this is renewable versus non-renewable versus renewable materials, proportions of which societal consumption. So this includes other things besides the built environment but as we know, 70% by weight material flow.
So the built environment plays a large role here. That's my disclaimer. In 1950, we were there.
Today, we're not doing any better. We're doing worse 95% non-renewable to 5%. So this is a trend that we really do have to think about, especially when we factor in the energy that it takes to push all of these materials around. Okay, I want to round out question two.
How am I doing on time? I got 33 minutes. With a composite measure that, I'm sure you are all very fond. I'm sure some of you are better informed about this than I am.
But the ecological footprint-- a composite measure developed the latest version developed by [INAUDIBLE] They keep a website at globalfootprintnetwork.org. The ecological footprint is a measure of the global societal demands versus supply of biologically productive land for everything that we do from agriculture to construction to manufacturer building materials.
A couple of recent or relatively recent thresholds-- one particularly ominous one that we crossed-- and you can certainly debate the way they calculate the ecological biocapacity of the earth. But in the late 1980s, we crossed this is number of planet Earths.
So the biocapacity of one planet Earth is outlined right there. This is years, 60, 70, 80, 90. and this is a huge physical accounting exercise that the group goes through, and they've been doing for its peer-reviewed massive effort.
In the late '80s, they determined that we crossed the threshold in going from on an annual basis demanding more than the supply could give us. That doesn't mean that you can't supply all of that demand in the future. It just means that, well, we're digging into the natural capital, basically. And you dig into natural capital far enough, and you can endanger certain ecologies. Like an old-growth forest, you log it enough, and it's no longer a biodiverse environment it's something else.
In 1960, the population of the world was 3 billion, 2,006.1, actually. Interesting thing is, while you double it and you get more. Of this the ecological footprint was 0.5 Earth's. That's 1.2. And the difference between those two, if one would expect that maybe a 0.5 at six billion would be one.
Well, the difference between them is increased the increase in affluence and our increasing ability to extract the resources that we want so that right now, we're at 1.2 Earths and scheduled to continue rising. This feeds into the discussions about tipping points on various ecologies around the world. Okay, so that's the built environment the filtered way that I see it for today in 45 minutes. The third question, let's address that.
Should we change the future? Well, I'm already convinced because I'm one of four points on a slide and Professor Deutsch's presentation that, yeah, we should because we're talking about moderating demand, essentially and designing better so that demand doesn't increase. There's a lot I could say about using the ecological footprint to answer this question. Let me suggest a direct answer for now. Today and tomorrow and into the future, this is something that you can do.
Look at the buildings around you, including this one buildings that you live and work in the buildings that you visit. For most of those buildings in the United States, you can decrease its energy consumption by 10% to 15% with a buyback time of about five years-- no question about it. You can do it tomorrow. Those are efficiency savings-- better insulation and better windows.
The way fuel prices are going-- heating, fuel prices and electricity-- it is possible to do that within a five-year payback. This can best be done-- I'm also not going to talk about solar because this can best be done with an integrated approach, accessing renewable energy sources-- solar, micro, wind turbines and other technologies-- But it should be coupled with efficiency, conserving energy, be more efficient in our use of the energy that's already provided to us for our buildings. Let me give you another answer to this question, which I think should be a kind of a rule of thumb for green building people around the world.
And that is it's probably best to increase the energy efficiency in existing buildings in the developed world because we have a lot of stock, and we have a lot of very underperforming stock. Still build a lot but we certainly don't build this as much or will build as much as the developing world. And that leads to the second point, which is it's very important to increase the efficiencies in the way new buildings are brought on online in developing countries. Couple those two together and you've got a very powerful strategy for moderating demand globally for the built environment.
You know what? I spend a lot of time with students. I teach a lot. I just got tenured thanks to class of '57, and I want to say you guys really helped out.
So actually, what I want to bring in here are students. I want to answer the question from the student point of view because I see the student body has been extraordinarily powerful force in all of this. I want to answer the question through Tom Weathers. Tom, if you're watching, hello. Tom is a recently graduated just yesterday master of architecture student MIT, and he dedicated his thesis-- full three semesters of prethesis research and then actually writing it to investigating the possibilities for using the existing material flow here on campus, the MIT campus, particularly underutilized the valuable waste stream materials in the design and construction of a low-energy building.
His question was, is there enough flow around us that we can maybe capture some of it and make a good building? He produced as a result of this study as far as I know, the first comprehensive material flow analysis of the MIT community. And then he analyzed it for the potential for using new buildings. So the idea is so waste that's floating out there, capture it and make a new building-- sounds very academic in some ways kind of unseemly, I guess.
But in Lexington, just north of here, there is a house that was built of the detritus-- previously the detritus [INAUDIBLE] most of the primary structural elements, many of the very high embodied energy materials in this building. A lot of the exterior envelope materials were directly captured from that flow. And you can look at the big dig and say, well, that was a huge material flow. Well, some of that was captured a tiny, tiny little less than a drop was captured for this building, but it's a really interesting approach to the way a designer would think about what are the resources that I have at my disposal.
Another student I want to mention here is Lucille [INAUDIBLE]. Lucille is a current master of architecture student. They both gave me permission to show these. They're happy with it.
And she's also very much a person who thinks that we should change the future. Her project of last term in the design studio brought into focus the need to consider architectural form as shaped by the potential offered by solar radiation by the sun-- an old topic. But so much of our architectural form has nothing to do with the sun.
So much of our architectural form is oriented to what? The street-- fly anywhere to look at the little curving streets and where how are the houses looking. They follow the streets. So her idea is that there needs to be design, technology, and planning that directly proposes that the configuration of buildings should follow potential for solar heat gains, solar shading, not a new idea. In fact, let's remember that this approach really had its origins-- one of its origins-- here in the solar houses at MIT in the 1930s-- way back in the 1930s.
In fact, in 1938, the Committee on Solar Energy Utilization at MIT was set up. And for the next 50 years, until 1988, a series of six experimental and prototypical houses were built here at MIT and served very much as the seeds to things like this. This is the Passive House Institute. This is material from the Passive House Institute in Germany.
A person there named Wolfgang Feist paid attention to the MIT work, and he spent a lot of time perfecting a combination of super insulated shell with heat recovery. The breath that I breathe, the heat that I'm producing can be recovered and then preheat incoming air from the outside, high performance windows and a systematic elimination of thermal bridges between the inside and the outside the cold outside in the warm inside, for example. And he produced a design, a passive house, and it's a really important approach to residential architecture. For the United States, 68% percent of our US housing stock is still single family housing, and the median age of our US housing stock is 27 years, which means that we're a country of new housing.
And this kind of approach still has relevance-- we can still apply. 10,000 of these houses have been built. This is not a pipe dream. This is not the Wolfgang [INAUDIBLE] one office. Okay, so these MIT people have done all of this.
Now I want to make it real. I want to make it happen in the world. And he did-- 10,000 of them built in Germany.
The Passive Institute has expanded its range to include other building types, multifamily, multiunit residential buildings, apartment houses, schools, office buildings, community centers. The passive house-- let me be very direct clear. There's been a whole series of conferences on the passive house-- lots and lots of data taken over 10 years. I think there have been seven passive house conferences. I know that probably wrong, but it's close.
This is typical. So the kilowatt hour per meter squared here-- a passive house-- welded built passive house-- but perfectly well verified and standard passive house construction will lead to an 85% to 90% reduction in energy. This is in Germany and northern Europe.
There is a group that I'm actually talking to quite a lot who's got a demonstration project in Uxbridge. They're bringing they've actually licensed the passive House technology. They're bringing it to Oxbridge. They're going to build a building there.
MIT hopefully we'll be monitoring it so that the passive house can become commercialized in this country. So in my opinion and in light of the first kind of sobering 2/3 of this presentation, I think all of this last few slides is very good news because the built environment does offer an opportunity to improve our resource efficiency while revisiting again, the value that we place on architectural spaces in the public realm. This is actually one of my buildings. I had to throw it up there. It is actually before I had any of these thoughts in my mind, before I came to MIT.
This is actually in addition to the law school at Columbia University. They needed public space, and it's south-oriented. And these aluminum fins and that [INAUDIBLE] glass, which is a kind of veiled glass. So the enamel baked onto the glass is basically designed for solar heat in winter and none in the summer-- very, very straightforward idea.
Another kind of project which really, my project showed before really did come out of the work of the MIT solar houses and idea of solar architecture. Other projects have come out of that, other technologies, including aerogels, super insulating silica foam materials having upwards of 10 to 20 times the thermal resistance of typical insulating materials. And another building, okay, so this is solar house taken to an extreme commercial office building. We see them all over the place, glass buildings.
This building shades itself. It shields itself. It's very straightforward, very simple idea. We don't see a lot of this around so that's why I'm an optimist. I think there are very straightforward, simple actually quite beautiful solutions to moderating demand.
We do need material research, fundamental material research. And I've done some assemblies research, depending on the materials scientists. We do need inexpensive and high performance thermal insulation materials. We still do, inexpensive.
Responsive, spectrally selective coatings for glass desiccate materials of all kinds to moderate humidity when you bring in outside air. Self-healing vapor and air barriers-- I think we're on the cusp of a number of breakthroughs there and more. We need more fundamental research on the materials for buildings. And we're seeing some of this.
We're seeing the more inventive, maybe not as risk averse, or maybe very successful architects. So they can take some risks doing these things on a big scale. These are shots from Lorenzo piano's New York Times building in Times Square.
If you haven't seen it here in New York City, go visit. It's a building with a huge solar shade on it. It's an amazing building. These are ceramic tubes around the entire thing. It's got a veil to temper that solar heat gain, still entirely glass building, and this is the Hearst building, 57th Street and Eighth, I think.
And that, again, has very sophisticated specially selected glass as part of its wall system. Also there are very exotic materials that we really do need to spend some effort on, and these are things Ike phase change materials-- so high thermal matured materials that absorb or are give off heat as they change state.
These are extremely useful materials. All of your seats could have phase change materials in them, and we could lower the temperature of this room all right so because the thermal exchange would be at the user. Oops, sorry-- at the user where it matters, not up there in that volume where it doesn't matter as much. Solid state lighting is a huge important field to reduce that artificial lighting because there is a paper that is published March 30, 2007, so it's fairly recent. It's on the materials for aesthetic, energy efficient, and self-diagnostic buildings.
But in addition to materials, we also need some decision-making tools for the designer. This is a material selector software. The mechanical engineers have had material selection software for a few decades now. The aero-astro certainly have and the architects and the engineers, the stewards of 70% of that material throughput have not.
So with Mike Ashby at the University of Cambridge in the UK, he and I developed this as a tool, an initial tool to give architects an idea of how to make rational decisions between materials that they're considering. This is just actually showing you that production energy or embodied energy, which you can't read, versus CO2 emission very tightly correlated.
So a body then of CO2 material and CO2 that's emitted. That's a tightly correlated pairing of properties. And I haven't talked about the production of power in buildings-- so building integrated renewable energies, photovoltaics. I'm not even showing photovoltaics. Photovoltaics is a whole 'nother topic, and I think it is extraordinarily important and will be part of the solution for moderating demand.
But I also wanted to show you some maybe not so commonly seen images of a building. Actually, these are renderings of a building in Chicago recently built-- I think completed by the previously big corporate architect Helmut Jahn. And that's a micro turbine on the top of it runs the length of the building and purportedly is supposed to be delivering the lighting energy for low-income housing, by the way.
Okay, so the huge elephant in the room is global climate change, which I haven't really spoken about. I'll just spend just a couple of slides. It's 51. I have like three minutes. there's
A topic that I'd like to introduce, not get into today but tell you that it is the umbrella topic for efficiency. As you see an image of Hurricane Maria heading for New Orleans. This talk of efficiency gains is really set under the uncertainty of vast changes to ecological anthropogenic systems due to global climate change. If energy efficiencies brought to the built environment do not account for the uncertainty of global climate change, we run the risk of being overwhelmed by producing buildings that rapidly become inappropriate in their locations and for their occupants.
An emerging set of priorities then is starting to really change the way a growing group of designers-- I already mentioned this-- designers, industrial ecologists, engineers, planners, urban planners are thinking about the new future city, the green city. That is, if we can accept the notion that the built environment is one very large complex system, then it would be prudent to explore the ways in which that system can be designed within an enhanced capacity for adaptation and resilience and ability to respond to shocks to the system. So I'll leave you just with two current designs that I'm working on. One is a kind of a modest proposal. It's for a house.
We're calling it the MIT float house. I am privileged to be involved in a number of projects in New Orleans. Believe me, the next two years are going to be really interesting in New Orleans.
A lot is happening, not only just because of the hurricanes but a lot of them. You go to any restaurant there, and no one in the room, no one in the restaurant had been there pre-Katrina. And they're all PhDs and engineers, and I mean, it's an interesting place.
This house is designed-- it proposes an alternative to relying on a centralized levee-based flood protection system-- very simple. The house floats when the city floods. The city will flood. People are building now houses slab on grade-- in other words, the concrete at grade, building up, and it will flood.
So okay, so but the implication here is it goes far beyond just this design. And that is, is there an opportunity to rethink the way we actually deploy infrastructure. And we actually design architecture not to depend on these large centralized systems, even for power generation. For example, what if we were to develop ways in which we could distribute using microgrids renewable energy community organized and owned systems for power generation? That would simultaneously lead to a reduction in demand.
And anyone that owns the thing that's producing energy is going to maintain it. They're going to want to know how much energy [INAUDIBLE]. They have the knowledge of what it is that they're getting at.
You just write a check to the energy company for that power plant, which is 70 miles away. Well, there's kind of a different engagement dynamic going on there. So but it also then says that that community could be more resilient to shocks.
So when it does flood, this house elevates because it's got a chassis of a buoyant material. It's held in place because you've got paragraphs, which that make for a purely vertical rise and keep it in place. So it deals with lateral movement. And these hydraulic columns fill with water.
So these fill with water. The flood goes away. Water goes away. This is not a fiction. The floodwaters are gone.
The house is still up because the thing you also want to do is to protect the house from looting. So it's a lot harder to loot this house then. Okay, so the owner comes back, or the community comes back and slowly lowers each one.
The second proposal, I actually want to talk about-- I'm a designer. I throw out these ideas. Let's see what sticks.
Both of these are real projects. I'm talking to a developer on the house I showed you before. And this project is also in play, and that is the idea which I just mentioned of a zero-energy community that has an emergency water system, on-site storm retention basins, thermal storage reservoir, phase change materials that can circulate throughout all the buildings, microwind turbines, building integrated photovoltaics, and emergency power source served by the micro grid and local flood surge break-- all within the goal of a diminished carbon footprint.
This is the idea of a resilient semi-autonomous community that is now green. So these are some ideas that I'm working on recently. I think this is a direction that-- at least for me in my work in building technologies-- is where I think we can contribute to moderating demand. Let me just read my last paragraph here.
The idea that resilience and adaptability can be design priorities initiates a whole new era for architecture that incorporates as central core priorities are evolving understanding of global resource consumption and global climate exchange. It will certainly be a challenge to fully assume this approach within a business that has always resisted any change. But I'm quite optimistic that real change, productive and positive, is coming.
I think it can be a critical part of that too. There's an enormous wealth of momentum here. I'm not entirely counting on political momentum, political will, counting on a lot of other kinds of will.
So if you hire an architect, as opposed to what Bucky Fuller asked the architect, how much does your wall building weigh years and years ago-- though it's a decent question to ask, by the way-- you should ask your architect, how is the person or firm going to produce a strategy for reducing the resource consumption of that architectural proposal. I hope personally that the answer that you get comes from one of my former students because then I can assured that it can be both effective and beautiful. Thank you.
So I can take five minutes worth of questions. Yes.
AUDIENCE: First, I'd like to say that I was really disappointed up until your talk because I thought I was at the other place down the river because it was all blabber and very little reality. And you brought a lot of reality to this thing. No, I mean, seriously because you can do all kinds of studies and projections and everything, but you're building real things. And you're dealing with real things. And that's very important because if we knew the answers, we'd be at Foxwoods, not here.
FERNANDEZ: Can I respond, actually?
AUDIENCE: It's a preamble to the question.
FERNANDEZ: Yeah, but I did say that my piece was one of four was moderating demand. My opinion is moderating demand will be an extraordinarily small portion of what will contribute to the stabilization of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and all that. So that's one really small part. All the other abstract work and large infrastructure systems, all that-- I am totally on board with all of that having to be talked about in the way that Professor Deutsch talked about it, which is that if I say it's possible, somebody doesn't say, oh, I can do it tomorrow. But we need to figure out how to do it.
AUDIENCE: Well, first of all, as the head of NASA said, why are we saying that this is the climate that we necessarily want to maintain? Why don't we just see perhaps that we can adapt to the climate as we have always adapted to the climate? When it got cold, we put our clothing on, built shelter. When it got warm, we moved, whatever the case may be. So the point is, and the second thing is it's really, really bad for people in a place like MIT to deny reality in the sense that they say CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas.
FERNANDEZ: I'm sorry. Do you have a question?
AUDIENCE: Yes, any gas with those number of atoms that present will do essentially, the same thing in water vapor, which is far more prevalent in the atmosphere is much more important as a greenhouse gas. But let's leave that out there. The question is this.
If you foresee the global drive going the way it is-- and that's, again, a projection-- with decreasing population growth rates in the developed countries, how do we take advantage of our expertise and our knowledge in the built environment and transfer that in a productive way to the third world, fourth world whatever where the big growth is going to occur. How do we do it productive?
FERNANDEZ: So there is a very, very quick answer because I want to get one other question in here. The answer to your question is that is happening. There are literally hundreds of people thinking exactly about that question and doing different things. For example one quick example is LEAD in the United States.
So you know LEAD is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It'd build a rating system-- I think that's correct-- build a rating system that is intended to be used by architects to certify that they've done as much as they can to reduce resource consumption of their building. It's a rating system. It's not an actual monitoring of that, but it is a tool that's now being transferred to countries all over the world or the attempt is to transfer it to countries all over the world so that at least there's a benchmark that architects can work with. So that's just very, very quick.
But rest assured there's very good awareness. And there's huge effort to transfer what we know to the developing world. And by the way, the developing world is more politically progressive than many of the countries in the developed world, I think might be. The one last question.
AUDIENCE: Is there any percentage of reduction of energy consumption from simply planting deciduous trees like on the southwest, east sides of the home?
FERNANDEZ: Yeah, great question. And that is to hit solar heat gain. So when you reduce solar heat gain-- and it varies tremendously with climate-- but in a climate like this, solar heat gain on the west side, for example, late afternoon, the building's already warm.
I'm not going to give you a number, but there is significant savings that you can have by making sure that that building does not heat up late in the afternoon, and you continue to need some kind of air conditioning. But that's a good point. Okay, actually, the point is being stressed that lunch is on the tables. Thank you. Enjoy, thank you.