Sustainability event focuses on clean energy

The Arizona Science Center in conjunction with the ASU School of Sustainability held a panel Thursday night, which featured guest speaker Peter Byck, filmmaker and producer of the film “Carbon Nation.”

This was Byck's third trip to ASU since October, and his experience speaking to sustainability students at school events in the past led the school to invite him to speak at the panel.

Byck said he got involved in advocating the use of clean energy after learning about issues surrounding climate change.

“I asked, 'Is this solvable? And if it is, let’s make a movie about solutions,'” Byck said. “I didn’t know if we would be able to find solutions, but we did.”

Byck said the fossil fuel industry is very mature, and he doesn’t see a clean way to use coal.

Stanford University civil engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson also spoke at the panel and said the use of fossil fuels is the second leading cause of global warming.

Byck said solutions to future energy problems rely on finding clean energy solutions, such as gradually switching to wind turbines or solar panels for electricity.

“Coal and nuclear energy costs get very expensive, very quickly,” Byck said. “The most economic choice is wind and solar.”

John Hofmeister, executive dean at the School of Sustainability and former president of Shell Oil Company, said it will take some time for the U.S. to switch to alternative energy.

“We have a long road ahead of us, and we need a way to move away from oil, because it is become problematic for us to produce," Hofmeister said.

He said in the next half decade the U.S. may face a shortage of coal energy. A plan requiring the curtail of dirty energy, while slowly moving toward usage of alternative energy, needs to be implemented.

Civil engineering senior Joey Gillis said he didn’t know there was an issue with coal energy before attending the lecture.

“We need change sooner than later, and we will get there eventually,” Gillis said.

Brigitte Bavousett was the School of Sustainability’s first graduate in 2008, and she now teaches 100 and 300 level classes at ASU.

Bavousett said she was interested in the study of sustainability after learning the environmental side of it.

“We need to be aware of how our energy usage choices affect us long term,” she said.


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