Argonne National Laboratory

Upcoming Events

Energy and The Industrial Revolution: Past, Present and Future

Director's Special Colloquium
Arun Majumdar, Vice President for Energy, Google
November 22, 2013 10:00AM to 11:00AM
Building 402, Auditorium

Vice President for Energy at Google Arun Majumdar will present "Energy and The Industrial Revolution: Past, Present and Future" at a Director's Special Colloquium, Friday, November 22, at 10 a.m. in the Building 402 Auditorium.

The last 250 years has been one of the most remarkable periods of human history, because we transitioned from “human and horse power to horsepower.” For almost every action we take in our lives today, we receive the benefit of 250 years of industrial revolution in ways that were unimaginable when it started. Our global economy and our prosperity grew exponentially, and our population grew from 700 million to 7 billion people. But at the very roots of this historic success are now raising serious concern about the future.

The industrial revolution has been largely about how we sourced, distributed and used energy. It was and continues to be predominantly based on fossil energy. Science is now strongly suggesting that our current course of a fossil-based industrial economy is likely to be unsustainable. We are witnessing the early days of human conflict caused by the economic impact of climate change, and we are seeing early signs of major changes to our ecosystems. Their impact on water and food supplies, health and living conditions could potentially be devastating to our economy and our lives. In the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, we need to act with the “fierce urgency of now.”

The choice that our society is asked to make is often posed as follows: Should we continue our exponential economic growth based on fossil fuels and ignore the environment, or should we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at the cost of our economic growth? This is a false choice because it is based on extrapolating the past. It does not account for the capacity of the human mind to explore, create and innovate a new industrial revolution for a sustainable energy future, one that allows the economy and our environment to be mutually inclusive.

This talk will discuss some of the opportunities and the challenges in science and engineering to create this sustainable energy future.