Dr. James Bradfield Moody was the last, but far from the least, speaker at the panel session of the opening day of the 2012 World Resources Forum, which included Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins and Yale Professor Thomas Graedel. Many important topics were addressed, from resources efficiency and recycling to societal values. However, being the youngest speaker of the day, Dr. Bradfield Moody, not only connected brilliantly with the audience but he managed to make the boldest prediction about the future. Dr. Bradfield Moody is presently on a sabbatical from his position as Executive Director, Development at the one of the world’s largest and most diverse global research organisations, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). He is also Australian National Commissioner for UNESCO and on the Advisory Council of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
I had the pleasure to run into Dr. Michael Appleby who works for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (yes they did help ban bullfighting in catalonia) as a scientific advisor. He gave a presentation at the WRF regarding food security and animal welfare and was perhaps the only person who dealt with the topic considering the interrelation between resources and food. Since food shortage is a real issue and will be even more so in the future I decided to highlight this important topic and interview Michael Appleby. Our conversation touches many fields related to food consumption and animal welfare. Also possible solutions to the obvious problems are discussed.
Biofuels are nowadays very controversial, even if they promise a lot. That is why Adam Wong – who helped me for the preparation of the interview and who filmed it – and I took the chance to talk to a very up-to-date researcher in the fields. At the World Resources Forum 2012 in Beijing, we interviewed Philippa Usher from the University of Leeds. The brilliant Ph.D student from the Energy Research Institute is specialized in low carbon technology and more specifically, in microalgae biofuels. Her research, as she explains in the interview, focuses on Brazil where biofuels are already produced on a large scale.
Given that Professor Munasinghe is a man of many disciplines, it is not surprising that our discussion with him was not bounded by any categories. One interesting theme included in our talks with him is the concept of changing values at the very base of our society. Those values ultimately also determine consumption and consequently myriads of environmental problems on all levels. Consumption has traditionally been attributed to the atomistic individual but its root is more grounded in societal value. Thorstein Veblen described this concept with the term “conspicuous consumption” by highlighting that a majority of consumption was driven merely by the need to display social standing and power.
One of the most common misconceptions about the green economy is that there is an inescapable trade-off between environmental sustainability and economic development. In addition, that environmental concern would be a luxury that only the developed countries can afford. However, throughout the conference so far, we have seen multiple arguments that incorporating sustainability into the development process is a vital key to alleviate poverty and increase economic growth. In a session today organized by the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, Nobel Prize Winner Mohan Munasinghe argued that there are some third world countries that still believe the increased focus on sustainability and the green economy to be “a trick by the western countries to keep down their development process”. Nevertheless, the gap between the north and south on this issue has been narrowing and the world seem to be reaching a general consensus that sound environmental management is vital in order to achieve economic growth, not only in the long run but also in the short run.
Biofuels from corn seem to have been in vogue lately. This is especially true in the United States, where the Navy just paid $12 million for a Pacific fleet this summer, reopening at the same time the debate. But are biofuels really a sustainable and practical solution to our energy problem? Is it responsible to continue in that direction, especially with cars, while other possibilities could be and are being developed to avoid using fuel or biofuel? The concept of biofuels is not a new one and it is not just in the last decade that it came to the mind of some car producers to use ethanol to run their machines. In fact, Henry Ford planned to have his Model T running on ethanol, which is a type of biofuel, already back in 1906.
I cannot stress the grandeur of the China National Convention Centre. It sweeps you off your feet and mops the gleaming floor with your flabbergasted face. I’ve been to smaller airport terminals and I have visited a sheikh’s palace that would fit five times over. Should the might of the late great leader ever be lost among Beijing’s smog and active lifestyle, the buildings will most definitely remind you of what you so gravely forgot. Walking past a gargantuan hallway, stumbling in and out of doors you do eventually end up in what happens to be the World Resources Forum 2012.
Student Reporter Adam Wong interviewed Yi-Heng Cheng, CEO of Kunshan Quanta K&M Consulting and Shanghai Microtech Co. Ltd. on the future of resource consumption in China. The emerging economy is today in the historical position that European conturies and America were some decades ago, and rapid industrialisation means that the ever-hungry economy is fiercely demanding all the time. But the world has changed significantly since then and countries face the challenge of either being swept away by the tide or being eroded in its wake.
Oily, coaly is our earth. The black blanket of your blue planet is slowly extracted, providing extraordinary power to the humanity. But at what price? Hasn’t the right time already arrived to turn to green energies? The 2011 report of the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveals that globally, energy sources are not diversified.
The World Resources Forum has officially opened and the student reporters are reporting live. This is reason enough to shed light on some of our activities from an ecological point of view. Since we’ll be sleeping, breathing, and talking resources for the next three days, we thought it’d be interesting to see the resource footprint of getting our team to Beijing. We’re only looking at the carbon footprint for now, and using an easily accessible online calculator, we came up with a quick calculation. 6.68 tonnes CO2e (4 people from Zürich to Beijing, return)
4.63 tonnes CO2e (2 people from Philadelphia to Beijing, return)
1.53 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Budapest to Beijing, return)
0.47 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Hong Kong to Beijing, return)
1.71 tonnes CO2e (1 person from London to Beijing, return)
1.72 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Geneva to Beijing, return)
1.80 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Zürich to Beijing via Helsinki, return)
This results in 18.54 tonnes CO2e for transporting 12 student reporters.