1:14 p.m., March 14, 2011----“When I was nine, I believed that the world was an unlimited place, one where technology would solve the problems of tomorrow.”
This was the opening statement of John Shinn's keynote address at the University of Delaware Energy Institute's (UDEI) annual symposium held March 10.
The symposium highlighted cutting edge research by UD faculty and students in such areas as biomass, solar voltaics, wind energy, advanced magnets and fuel cells.
Shinn, from Chevron Research and Technology Company, is a noted authority on successful business approaches to climate change and sustainable development who said he now understands that resources are limited and technology alone is not enough to secure our energy future.
Energy problems have gone from complicated, highly technical issues to dynamic interplays between technical, environmental and social issues. Global energy demand is expected to increase 50 percent by 2050, while demands to reduce greenhouse gas risks by 50 percent are predicted in the same time frame.
Partnership is the key to surmounting these challenges, Shinn said, but to be truly effective, one must also address climate change and the incredible scale of global poverty.
UDEI is well equipped to play a major role in this challenging and important mission, he noted, citing the institute's impressive array of established partnerships with academia, national laboratories and industry.
“I think we have great hope moving forward,” said Shinn. “We need to work through the complications and extend ourselves beyond our own institutions for the betterment of humanity and the world.”
“Energy is not isolated from water and poverty, they are simply flipsides of the same inter-dimensional coin,” commented Michael Klein, Dan Rich Chair of Energy and UDEI director. “It's not just a science problem, the issues are all interconnected.”
Shinn recommends building a global sustainable development workforce through the combined efforts of academia, industry and government. He cites programs such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB) that empower developing communities, while building relationships and fostering a new generation of engineers working on these problems throughout the world.
Technology is not the cure-all, but it can help -- it can be a partner in developing new technologies to meet our growing demands, drive sustainability efforts and raise the level of corporate responsibility toward these important issues.
Article by Karen B. Roberts
Photo by Kathy Atkinson