Dear Friends of CITRIS,
I recently returned from a conference in Copenhagen feeling
hopeful about the ability and willingness of some of the world’s smartest and
most capable people to address global climate issues. The Research Conference on
Innovation in Climate and Energy was co-sponsored by CITRIS and the Copenhagen
Climate Council in June as part of a series of meetings in preparation for next
year’s United Nations Summit on Climate Change, where delegates from around the
world will fashion a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.
Broadly speaking, the mission of the conference was to
explore the ways that technology, business, and public policy can work together
to help reduce carbon emissions as much and as quickly as possible while doing
the least harm to the world’s economies.
That task taps directly into CITRIS’s greatest strengths. One of those,
of course, is developing new technologies in the fields of energy production
and efficiency. The first story below—about Ali Shakouri’s brilliant effort to
create thermoelectric materials that can recapture energy lost as heat in combustion
engines—is only one example of dozens. UC Davis has an impressive program in
energy use in transportation and agriculture; UC Merced has created a
super-efficient building environment that is both an expression of the best
existing technologies and a living laboratory employed in the search for new
ones; UC Berkeley has a nuclear engineering department dedicated to developing
safe and clean nuclear power as well as an important bio-fuels program. There
are many, many more.
But the technological progress we are making at CITRIS and
elsewhere around the world, however great, cannot, by itself, solve the carbon
emissions problems we face. Without good public policy aimed at getting those
technologies into production, and without innovative business models that can
make them profitable to promote and affordable to implement, even the very best
innovations will not get the kind of the kind of traction they need.
And that is exactly why CITRIS, which combines its core
technological mission with public policy, legal, and business expertise, has so
much to contribute to this effort. And
that is why the conference was so encouraging.
One important innovation emerging from the meeting is the
subject of the second story in this newsletter. The Climate Navigator is a
web-based set of tools under development by CITRIS scientists that will help to
model different carbon emissions scenarios. Users can enter different values
for various policy and business approaches and investigate what ramifications
they will have in the adoption of different technologies and ultimately on the
resulting carbon emissions. The calculator shows just how interrelated the
technological, regulatory, and economic variables are; change one and the whole
picture shifts. We are fortunate that Dr. Gary Baldwin will lead this important
project, among others, in his new role as our Director of Special Projects.
As the article below explains, the Climate Navigator is more
than these modeling tools, however. It is also an online community where the
best and brightest minds trying to pave the way for a successful Copenhagen
Treaty can compile and share their results, where they can work together, and
where they can share the progress they are making with the broader world.
Climate change poses unprecedented risks and challenges to
humanity. But it is also an opportunity to create innovative solutions and new
ventures and partnerships that may result in a better and more sustainable ways
of life. We at CITRIS are dedicated to doing whatever we can to help humanity
both face those challenges and seize those opportunities.
Keep up the good work.
Solar Taxi visits
Swiss adventurer Louis Palmer is taking a small blue
environmentally-friendly taxi around the world. The solar-electric two-seat
taxi with attached trailer is an attempt to call attention to global warming
while providing solutions for oil independency.
Photos and a video of the lecture are available online.
Exchange Schedule online
The schedule for the fall semester is now online at http://www.citris-uc.org/RE-fall2008.
As always, these talks are free and webcast live, in
addition to being available afterwards on our youtube site [http://www.youtube.com/citris].
UC Students travel to
Denmark for Renewable Energy Summer Program
Faculty members at the University of California, Santa Cruz,
have organized a renewable energy program that brought together U.S. and Danish
students for four weeks this summer in Lolland, Denmark.
UC Berkeley EECS Professor John Canny and graduate student
Divya Subramanian received the best paper prize at the "Persuasive
Technology" conference. The paper shows that conversational presentation
of information is more effective than lecture style and is part of a project on
maternal health care for developing countries.
Helene York to speak
at Berkeley, Sept. 22
Helene York is the director of the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation,
an educational organization whose mission is to educate consumers, chefs, and
food service managers about how their food choices affect the environment and
the livelihoods of traditional food producers.
Healthcare workshop: Sept. 17-18
How can we improve the service of healthcare? This topic
will be examined from a variety of viewpoints including the emerging field of
services science, engineering, management, and the field of health services
Dedication, Feb. 27, 2009
On Feb. 27, 2009, CITRIS will mark the official opening of its
new headquarters, Sutardja Dai Hall, with a day of talks and celebration.