DBR Distinguished Speaker Series 2015-2016
"Society's grand challenges: the connectivity of water, energy, food and climate"
As the world population heads to 9 billion by 2050, the grand challenges facing society are energy, water, food, health, climate, bottom of the pyramid (BOP) and sustainability in all societal activities. By 2040, the global energy consumption will increase by greater than 60% globally. In 2030, the automotive fleet on the road is projected to reach 1.8 Billion vehicles while current estimates show the world oil production to plateau close to 100Mb/day by 2020. Currently, on the order of 1.3 Billion people lack access to electricity and 2.6 Billion people rely on biomass as the primary energy source for cooking. In addition, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere passed 400ppm in 2013 and one third of today’s population live in basins with water scarcity. The challenges facing society related to food, energy, water and climate are inter-linked and closely coupled. If we are to successfully navigate society to a more sustainable future, it will require a significant improvement in how society utilizes the existing resources. Energy efficiency, water efficiency and food waste need to be embraced as a major part of the solution for these grand challenges.