Summary of Speaker – Denis Hayes, President and CEO of Bulitt Foundation

Profile link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Hayes

Earth is in trouble

·         Carbon is basic element for all animals and the Earth has 200,000 tonnes of it (40 million from humans, 100 million from other animals, 50 millions from fish and the remaining coming from wild animals).

·         Human population is growing, currently 6 billion but expected to grow to 9 billion.

·         People want a better life – no matter where they are.

·         With the consumption of more resources, how do we optimize the use of Earth’s resources whilst satisfying the desire of people to improve their way of life?

·         The philosophy is that the richer people get, the more they will share their wealth with others however the question is whether we can all get there.

·         Studies has indicated that if a family’s income reaches $75,000 then they will be satisfied however the average income in the US is only $50,000.

How do we get to satisfaction?

·         One way for us to reach satisfaction levels is to increase resources such as oil however another is to reduce the population.

·         Factors like War and disease has helped stem the growth of population.

·         There is growing indication that war is being used to control precious resources such as the oil field in Iraq.

The World Players

·         Politics is being driven by environmental externalities

·         US have limited access to precious resources but at the same time, its democracy, individualistic approach may hinder the ability to shape the optimization of its limited resource.

·         China on the other hand has the ability to deal with any crisis quickly and is able to take advantage of its large population because of its politic structure.

·         This could be a critical element in the future of how we deal with the effects of environmental change and the optimization of precious resource.

Why is this important?

·         Climate change is happening

·         At the moment with 30 senate races, there is little coverage given to the effects of greenhouses and climate change.

·         Politic is the key driver to any adaption of new technology.

What alternatives are there to traditional sources of energy generation?

·         Traditional include oil, fossil fuels, coal and Nuclear power

·         Alternatives include solar, Hydro, bio fuel and wind

·         But improvements and innovation is critical – the storage of energy and battery technology is vital in helping us utilize clean energy.

But if we have alternative sources of energy generation, why aren’t we using it?

·         Series of small changes is not enough, it needs to be a BIG CHANGE

·         Evolution happens in a big event not a series of small events.

·         The problem is that people believe that renewal energy will become more dominant when we reach PEAK oil use.

·         However, as there is no exact way of measuring PEAK oil use, we are happy to continue to use traditional sources of energy.

·         Countries like Russia, China, Iraq, Iran and Saudi control the oil and therefore can control people’s perception of how much oil is available.

So what is the future?

·         It is clear that politics is the key in driving change.

·         The control of resources will be the next battleground (Iraq War)

·         Change must happen but it will be a BIG CHANGE rather than a set of small events.

Q & A Session

·         When considering how to embrace environmental change – there will always be winners and losers.

·         US led the world in solar development in the 80s however politics caused them to suspend their program. If this had not happened, the world would be a different place today.

·         Exciting areas of improvements of renewal energy include Solar in China, the storage of energy and the car industry.

·         The use of refining wastewater and converting seawater into drinking water is another area of development.

·         Food is a major future problem – China has the power to make environment changes but how is it going to feed its population?

·         It is critical to stop the ethanol program – it’s wasteful and has little future when you realize that more Maze (key ingredient) is produced and turned in Alcohol as the total maze produced in Canada, Australia and Argentina combined.


·         Environmental changes will be driven by politics.

·         The next war will be over the control of precious resources.

·         Change will happen but it will be one BIG event rather than a smaller set of changes.

·         Always consider the future net present value and not only today’s value of environmental changes.

More information of the Denis Hayes’s company, Bulitt Foundation and his work on Seattle environmental friendly building can be found at http://bullitt.org/.