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Innovation and Energy Security: A Leadership Odyssey

by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

National Science Foundation
Arlington, Virginia

Monday, April 23, 2007


Thank you for inviting me to give one in the series of the 2006-2007 National Science Foundation Distinguished Lectures in Mathematical and Physical Sciences. I am honored and very pleased to be here.

My remarks, today, focus on the intertwined challenges of energy security, innovation, and an appropriately prepared workforce.

I begin with this premise: That, in an increasingly global environment, in which many nations are striding toward self-development — with the concomitant need for energy to fuel these lengthening strides — the United States must respond creatively, strongly — and soon.

It is always best to view challenges in a broad context. On its surface, energy availability might seem like a case of supply and demand. As the global appetite for energy has risen, the competition has intensified, each country strategizing how best to ensure a secure and sufficient supply of energy at reasonable prices.

But, it is not that simple. Failure to achieve sufficient supply will leave billions stranded in energy poverty, unable to progress, with attendant substandard living conditions: inadequate access to food and water, inability to combat infectious diseases, lack of education, civil unrest. But failure in the other direction — over-consumption following current fossil fuel usage patterns — holds its own implications for major environmental impact.

There is an acute urgency to this challenge. From 1950 to 2000, world population rose from 2.5 billion to 6 billion people. Water use tripled — as did grain production. Demand for seafood increased fivefold. Automobiles grew from 53 million in 1950 to 539 million in 2003. And, with the introduction of commercial jet aircraft in the late 1950s, air travel volume mushroomed, from about 28 billion passenger-kilometers at mid-century to more than 2.9 trillion in 2002.

Worldwide energy consumption per capita is now roughly 13 times higher than in pre-industrial times. And, bear in mind that there are still 2.4 billion people — over 35 percent of the world population — who have no access to modern energy services. With globalization providing greater awareness of the contrast in living standards between rich and poor, the "have-nots" are ever more anxious to better their life prospects and the accoutrements that come with modern lifestyles.

If current trends continue, humans will use more energy, over the next 50 years, than in all of previously recorded history. Where will it come from? From which fuels will it be derived? Can our planet — a planet of limited resources — sustain the impact?

Many speak of "energy independence." What we must have — and what responsible public policy must foster — is "energy security." There is no "energy independence." The energy challenges we face are interrelated, interdependent, and global.

Energy security touches nearly every other aspect of societal activity. It influences, or is influenced by, geopolitics, culture, technological innovation, global trade and financial markets, and workforce needs and trends. Many forecasters predict that, in decades to come, problems of water and food scarcity, also, are likely to loom large; but success in addressing those resource issues will be greatly determined by how we solve, or fail to solve, the issues of energy security.

What is energy security? I define energy security as having an adequate and sustainable supply of energy to meet the needs and aspirations of citizens, commercial enterprises, and public sector functions. The practical definition — that is, the set of strategies for achieving energy security — varies according to nation and to region, but includes the following five elements:

  1. No over-dependence on external suppliers. This entails both maximizing domestic or local production, and ensuring reliable sources for necessary fuel imports.

  2. Diversity of supply. This provides protection against supply disruption events, such as natural disasters or geopolitical instability. It, also, provides a hedge against fuel price volatility.

  3. Well-functioning energy markets. This includes ensuring the profitability of fuel production and energy generation for suppliers, as well as mechanisms to secure financing for long-term, strategic energy investments.

  4. Sound infrastructure for energy generation, transmission, and distribution. This includes the necessary regulatory and operational protocols to ensure the safe, secure, and reliable performance of refineries, power plants, national grids, and other energy facilities.

  5. Environmental sustainability. With the United Nations Security Council holding its first ever debate on climate change last week, and concentrating on the risks which climate change could pose to world security, the impact of human energy consumption on the planet is taking center stage as a global concern.

This is the nature of energy security. A narrow focus on U.S. energy interests alone — without regard for the energy interests of other countries — is neither practical nor productive, because global energy markets, global energy supply chains, terrorism, and rising economies have great impact. The more realistic focus must be on redundancy of supply and diversity of source. True economic opportunity and true national energy security are contingent upon energy solutions which can be developed globally, and applied nationally and regionally. And, they depend upon innovation.

I will consider four key challenges to achieving energy security; how the challenges and corresponding solutions differ from region to region; why cooperation — between countries, sectors of society, and even disciplines — is vital. I will, then, discuss a few energy sectors where innovation is essential, including nuclear energy. The four key challenges are:

  • The global dependency on oil,
  • The industrialization of developing countries,
  • The effect of human energy consumption on the environment, and
  • Energy as political currency.

The first key challenge is the extraordinary global reliance on oil, which makes up around 36 percent of the global energy diet — with more than 85 million barrels consumed per day. Oil dominates the transportation sector, and is the basis for other primary energy uses, as well.

As of 2005, oil production had levelled off or declined in 33 of the 48 largest producers, including 6 of the 11 members of OPEC. Coupled with continuing growth in demand, this, of course, has resulted in a smaller capacity margin.

The result has been increased volatility in the price per barrel, which, in turn, takes a toll on other economic factors. Americans spent 17 percent more for energy in 2005 than the year before, an increase which accounted for more than a 40 percent of the rise in the U.S. consumer price index.

The European Union (EU) relies on imports for 82 percent of its oil — a figure expected to rise to more than 90 percent by 2030. At that rate, if oil rose to, say, $100 per barrel by 2030, the total energy import bill for the 27 EU member countries would increase by around €170 billion annually — a net cost increase of around €350 per year for each EU citizen.

Whether or not global oil capacity has already passed "peak production," one thing is clear: we can no longer just drill our way to energy security.

The imbalance in energy consumption between rich and poor countries drives the second key challenge. Nearly every aspect of development requires accessible, reliable, affordable energy. As more developing countries industrialize, driven by the desire to improve the lives of their citizens, we can only expect the competition for resources to intensify.

China is a case in point. Last year its economy grew 10.7 percent, with demand for oil up by a corresponding 9.3 percent. For a more concrete image consider that 30,000 automobiles per month are being added to the streets of Beijing alone! Chinese demand for oil in 2007 is forecast at 7.56 million barrels per day — more than Germany, France, and the United Kingdom combined. And yet, China lags far behind European per capita consumption.

Consider the electricity sector. Last year, China added approximately 60,000 megawatts of new electrical generating capacity to its grid. This year, it expects to add approximately 80,000 megawatts — or think of it this way: In a single year, China added to its grid roughly the equivalent of the entire electrical generating capacity of France.

Based on current trends, global primary energy demand will increase by slightly more than 50 percent by 2030. Fully 70 percent of that demand increase will come from developing countries, with China alone accounting for 30 percent.

What is significant is not only the anticipated demand growth, but that so much of that growth will take place in countries very dependent on fossil fuels.

In fact, most of the current increase in Chinese and Indian electrical generating capacity is coming from coal-fired power plants. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects an increase in coal use — mainly for electricity generation — greater than that of any other energy source.

This leads us to the third key challenge: the expanding "human footprint" on the Earth. Whether the concern is climate change, air and water pollution, or the extinction of other species, it is clear that the rapid increase in human consumption is taking its toll.

For the past 35 years, greenhouse gas emissions have increased at a rate of about 1.6 percent per year. As of 2003, the United States accounted for about 23 percent of global emissions; Europe another 24 percent. From now until 2030, assuming business as usual, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase by roughly 55 percent. Most of that will come from developing countries, accelerated by the proportionately greater use of coal for power generation.

Because of greenhouse gas emissions, many experts predict a sustained increase in the Earth's temperature, which in turn would cause sea levels to rise, increase the frequency and severity of storms, destroy fragile ecosystems, and lead to heat waves and droughts.

Whatever the specific linkage of fossil fuel use to climate change, one fact is indisputable: the natural capacities of the Earth remain the same. The capacity of the water tables or ocean fisheries or atmosphere to absorb the impact of human activity in a sustainable manner has not changed.

With each of these challenges pressuring global energy security, and with more intense competition for resources, also comes greater vulnerability to the use of oil, natural gas, or other scarce resources as political currency — the fourth key challenge.

In this way, energy security is relevant not only to economic security, but, also, to civil security. A country that relies heavily on imports may feel pressure in its stance toward a supplier nation. Supplier countries can use market volatility to political advantage.

An extreme example results from politically motivated violence. As with geopolitical turmoil, acts of violence lead to volatility in oil or natural gas prices. Violent incidents illustrate the potential for exploiting supply chain vulnerabilities.

Perhaps the biggest shift has been the rise of a new group of oil and gas companies. These are state-owned companies from resource-holding (or supplier) countries and resource-seeking countries, all from outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These new giants include Saudi Aramco (the largest), Russia's Gazprom, CNPC of China, NIOC of Iran, PDVSA of Venezuela, Petrobas of Brazil, and Petronas of Malaysia.

These companies control one-third of global oil and gas production, and more than one-third of the reserves, compared with 10 percent of production and 3 percent of reserves held by the so-called "integrated" oil and gas companies.

Global energy markets already are impacted, as supplier country-based companies partially regulate the price of oil and natural gas by controlling production. If they control more of the integrated oil and gas supply chain, the effect on global energy markets, and economies overall, would be more dramatic.

These four challenges are global in reach. But, each region and country are affected differently — based on factors such as indigenous fuel resources, relationships to supplier countries, reliability of infrastructure, economic stability, the degree of attention given to environmental concerns, and how government leaders and the public view the risks and benefits of different energy sources. Variations in how these factors are weighted in the policy-making process of a given country can lead to contrasting strategies for achieving energy security — even though the effects of these policies are likely to extend beyond their own borders.

China and India have been successful at sustaining remarkable growth in energy generating capacity — an asset in raising living standards and national productivity. Yet the trade-off has been that both countries are struggling to manage the environmental impacts of their growth, with the heavy dependency on coal for power generation taking its toll. China is home to 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, and is estimated to suffer roughly 400,000 premature deaths per year from air pollution. Nor does the effect stop at the border. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 30 percent of the background sulphate particulate matter in the Western U.S. originates in Asia.

Europe faces its own mix of challenges. In January, the European Commission released a paper entitled, An Energy Policy for Europe. The Commission called for urgent action on energy sustainability, security of supply, and competitiveness.

The EU relies heavily on imported hydrocarbons. These imports, today, account for 50 percent of total EU consumption, and if no changes are made, this dependency is expected to increase to 65 percent by 2030. This places great strategic importance on maintaining effective relationships with gas suppliers such as Norway — which is inside the European Economic Area — and Russia and Algeria, which are not. Still, the vulnerability is high for EU Member States that are fully, or almost fully, reliant on a single gas supplier.

On the positive side, the EU has committed itself to lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to offset air pollution and climate change. The Commission has proposed a legally binding target that would increase the level of renewable energy, from 7 percent in the current overall EU energy mix, to 20 percent by 2020. The European Union, already, is the world leader in renewable energy technology. For example, EU companies hold 60 percent of the market share in wind technology.

What is encouraging about the European energy security climate is the focus on developing a coherent energy policy. In some ways, the current EU discussions on energy security are the smaller version of a discussion that must take place on a global scale. If the European Union can successfully balance competing concerns — achieving security of supply, reducing carbon emissions, convincing consumers to adopt more energy efficient practices, while remaining economically competitive — it lends hope that cooperation can take place on a broader scale worldwide.

An objective of the European Commission energy policy paper was to transform the region into a cost-effective, low-carbon-emission energy economy.

This call for a new "energy" industrial revolution echoes the call for technological innovation that many in the U.S., also, are urging. It is a goal that I have heard emphasized repeatedly, in boardrooms and research centers — not only in the U.S., but, also, in my recent trips to Mumbai, Beijing, and Tokyo. A "new energy industrial revolution" will require the participation of all sectors, from the governments who sponsor legislation and consumer incentives, to the universities, research centers, and private companies that will drive the innovation.

Many of the priorities listed by the Commission will require innovative research and development (R&D), covering a wide range, including: Second-generation biofuels. More energy efficient buildings, appliances, industrial processes, and transport systems. Cost-competitive photovoltaics and offshore wind farms. Fourth-generation nuclear reactors with enhanced economics, safety, security, and waste disposal features. Carbon capture and storage technologies to make coal and gas energy sustainable.

Time does not permit me to address all of the areas ripe for innovation. But, I will briefly discuss a few.

In my view, few areas of needed innovation deserve higher priority than "clean coal" research.

While some countries are endeavoring to minimize coal use, the global picture makes this unavoidable: coal supplies 25 percent of the world's primary energy needs, and generates 40 percent of its electricity. Because coal remains abundant, the use of coal — including the less clean "brown coal," or lignite — is increasing. If innovation can reduce significantly the environmental impact of coal-based energy generation, it should be pursued.

The U.S. is working on a project called "FutureGen": a public-private collaborative venture to construct a 275 megawatt, zero-emissions plant that will produce both electricity and hydrogen from coal, while capturing and storing the carbon dioxide. India, South Korea, and China, have signed on as partners. If, in addition, the carbon dioxide could be converted, through technology, to elemental carbon for its re-use, there would be strong advantages to such a "nearly" closed-cycle approach.

A second area involves marine research for deep gas hydrate exploration. In hydrates, methane, the chief constituent of natural gas, is locked in ice, and, generally, is found in hostile, remote settings, such as the Arctic permafrost or deep ocean. Once considered a nuisance, because it clogs natural gas pipelines, methane hydrate's reputation has improved as scientists have discovered that it could be a remarkably abundant new energy source. Worldwide estimates of the natural gas potential of methane hydrates approach 400 million trillion cubic feet — an astonishing figure when the world's currently proven gas reserves stand at 5,500 trillion cubic feet. In fact, the worldwide amounts of hydrocarbons bound in gas hydrates are estimated, conservatively, to be twice the amount found in all known fossil fuels on Earth.

But, the technology to mine these deposits is elusive. Gas hydrate drilling comes with its share of environmental concerns, including fears that drilling could release greenhouse gases, or trigger ocean landslides. Traditional proposals for recovering gas from hydrates usually involve dissociating, or "melting", the substances on site. Companies are exploring ways to produce and to ship stable slurries of natural gas hydrate crystals. Also, advanced drilling techniques and complex down-hole completions, including horizontal wells and multiple laterals, are being considered.

If even a small percentage of the methane hydrate resource could be made technologically and economically recoverable, in an environmentally sound manner, the rewards would be great indeed.

Multination cooperation is occurring in this arena. In fact, a part of the recently signed energy cooperation agreement between the U.S. and India involves deep-sea exploration and research with respect to methane hydrate extraction and use.

Currently, for every gallon of petroleum-based fuel discovered, two gallons are consumed, and estimates differ about the extent of remaining petroleum reserves. But, it is certain that, as time progresses, remaining reserves will be in increasingly less accessible locations. Less certain is how much it will cost to extract and deliver these fuels to users. Successful innovation will be an important factor.

A good example of how multidisciplinary collaborative innovation can support the drive to greater energy security is in nanotechnology — a cutting-edge science that could have beneficial applications in many sectors. In the present context, I would simply point out that nanotechnology research offers an array of possibilities relevant to the petroleum industry.

For example:

  • Improved elastomers, critical to deep drilling, to improve high-temperature and high-pressure performance.
  • Nano-sensors for improved temperature and pressure ratings in deep wells, and unfamiliar or hostile environments.
  • Nanoparticulate wetting carried out using molecular dynamics simulations that show promise in the creation of solvents for heterogeneous surfaces and porous solids.

There are many more such examples with direct relevance to exploration, extraction, and transportation of petroleum fuels — including the use of smart materials, and advanced imaging techniques. But, the point, here, is that multidisciplinary, multisector, multinational cooperation is critical to bring such innovations to fruition.

There is much more which can be said about innovative, technological development to enhance energy security across a broad front. Research is proceeding apace in fuel cells, biofuels, solid state lighting, smart building design, intelligent grid operation, and in wind, solar, and wave technologies.

With rising fossil fuel prices and global warming concerns, there has been a gradual, but steady resurgence of Interest in nuclear power.

Last month, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first nuclear power plant site in more than 30 years, in central Illinois, and more approvals of early site permits are anticipated.

On its surface, nuclear energy satisfies many of the optimum requirements for enhancing energy security. Nuclear power produces virtually no sulfur dioxide, particulates, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, or greenhouse gases. The complete cycle — from resource extraction to waste disposal — emits only about 2-6 grams of carbon equivalent per kilowatt-hour. This is about the same as wind and solar — if one includes construction and component manufacturing — and is roughly two orders of magnitude below coal, oil, and natural gas. Unlike small wind and solar facilities, nuclear power can supply the large baseload capacity to support large urban centers and to stabilize large electrical grids.

One of the most controversial aspects of nuclear power, of course, is the management and disposal of spent fuel. The amount of spent nuclear fuel produced annually (2,000 tons per year in the U.S. or about 10,000 tons, globally) is actually small when contrasted with the 25 billion tons of carbon waste from fossil fuels, which is released directly into the atmosphere. Most of the technological issues associated with geologic disposal of high-level radioactive waste already have been solved. But, given the intense polarization around the nuclear waste issue, public opinion likely will remain skeptical until waste repository or other fuel cycle closure solutions have been demonstrated.

The federal government has made progress toward licensing and building a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Last month, U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman sent Congress proposed legislation on the disposal of spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste — to facilitate licensing and construction at Yucca Mountain. It would increase the capacity of Yucca Mountain by eliminating the current 70,000 metric ton cap on the amount of spent fuel to be disposed of there, and help with the safe isolation of spent fuel from license extensions of existing reactors. The proposed legislation provides for initiation of infrastructure activities, as well as for more streamlined Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing. However, it will be more than a decade before the first such facility is operational.

In the meantime, the trend has been to construct and use above-ground interim storage facilities, with many countries exploring the feasibility of interim storage for 100 years or more.

Research and development (R&D) is progressing on the use of fast reactors and accelerator-driven systems to incinerate and transmute long-lived waste, in order to reduce the volume and radiotoxicity of waste to be sent to geologic repositories.

Of course, nuclear power must be contained and maintained within a non-proliferation context. Here, too, technological innovation offers tremendous potential. Advanced technologies, in areas such as satellite monitoring and nuclear forensics, play a critical role. Innovations in screening technologies, proliferation-resistant reactor and fuel cycle systems, domestic nuclear detection technologies, passive safety systems, and sophisticated support infrastructure, offer new safeguards which were not in place 20 years ago. This is an area which demands continual innovation and advancement to "stay ahead of the game."

It is important to interject a word, here, about the broad nature and utility of technological innovation. Innovation is most often incorporated into discussions of national competitiveness. Our national capacity for innovation is critical because it enables us to lead and to compete, and because it offers solutions to the larger and more complex challenges which, in the end, threaten our own national security, and global security, as well.

But, the capacity to innovate rests solely upon a skilled human workforce. As many of you already know, this vital, valuable workforce is threatened here in the United States. The current cohort of scientists and engineers are beginning to retire, many of whom came of age in the post-Sputnik era. At the same time we are no longer producing sufficient numbers of new graduates to replace them. The rate of growth of talented international scientists, engineers, and graduate students coming to the U.S. has slowed and the number is down 27 percent since 2003. Other nations are investing in their own education and research enterprises, offering new opportunities for their citizens to study and work at home. The flattening world means they, also, can work elsewhere, not necessarily in the U.S. Our own demographics have shifted, and our "new majority" now comprises young women and the racial and ethnic groups which, traditionally, have been underrepresented in our science and engineering schools.

We, also, must look to this group for future scientists and engineers. There has been a decline in investment in basic research, especially in the physical sciences and engineering.

I have called the convergence of these trends the "Quiet Crisis." It is "quiet" because it takes decades to educate a biomolecular researcher or a nuclear engineer, so the true impact unfolds gradually, over time. It is a "crisis" because our innovative capacity rests solely upon their talents.

The "Quiet Crisis" is a major challenge to our entire education system to reach out to the "underrepresented majority", to inspire and encourage them, and to help them stay in the pipeline. This must occur against the backdrop of encouraging all (and I do mean all) of our young people to take on the challenge of science and advanced mathematics — in primary and secondary school, and to consider science, engineering, and related majors in college, and beyond. Our paramount mission must be to educate all of our students through high school, into and through the university to graduation, and on to doctoral or professional study.

Reports, by major corporate, academic, government, and private sector entities all have recognized these trends and warn of the consequences, if we fail to act.

Two years ago, the National Academies released its landmark report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future which recommended federal policy changes in K-12 education, higher education, research, and economic policy.

The report urged four sweeping national policy actions:

  1. Increase the United States' talent pool by improving K-12 science and mathematics education;
  2. Strengthen the nation's commitment to long-term basic research to maintain the flow of new ideas;
  3. Make the U. S. the most attractive setting in which to study and conduct research; and to develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest; and
  4. Enact policies to make the U.S. the premier place to innovate — investing in downstream activities, and a variety of other measures.

As much as any similar effort, prior or since, this report garnered widespread media and leadership attention. The report, also, engaged the national conversation which I have been speaking to for some time.

Some of these recommendations are captured in legislation which both the U.S. House and Senate are debating this week. The various pieces of legislation are designed to increase investment in basic research, and to strengthen educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

It is time to move from proposals to action. All Americans must be more involved in the processes of our government. I urge you, in government, to support these efforts, and to urge Congress to move innovation and competitiveness from rhetoric to reality.

Moving beyond the political process, how, then, are we to educate our young people to these challenges, to innovative leadership within the global environment of the 21st century? How do we educate our students to a global view, and the motivation and capability to work toward global security? How might institutions of higher education refocus to address both national and global challenges?

In every discipline, we must graduate young people:

  • With strong analytical skills, who can understand and solve complex problems;
  • With multicultural understanding, who can operate in a global context; and
  • With intellectual agility, who can see connections between disciplines and between sectors across a broad intellectual milieu.

This means we must do a better job of teaching our students — and ourselves — how to be critical analyzers and consumers of information — because information as an enabler, has sweeping implications.

We must educate our students to the fundamentals of a discipline, but with the ability to work between disciplines, to find innovative new approaches, and to value the perspectives of diversity in reaching solutions.

We must evaluate pedagogical approaches and learning styles. We must understand cognition patterns, and organize pedagogy to enable students to use their skills and perspectives in yet more creative ways. Information technology is a tool which can take us beyond classroom walls, offering students the interactive, experiential learning to which they are habituated, in ways which enhance their cognition, their analytical abilities, and their specific knowledge.

Simulation of physical phenomena, game study technologies, tele-presence and tele-immersion — all are pedagogical tools which can help.

Our undergraduate students need to be involved in study abroad, offering them an expanded world vision, multicultural exposure, and preparing them for collaborative research and work, and for global leadership.

Education must be cognizant that 21st century challenges are not borne of a single issue. They are complex, interlinked, often multilateral. They may involve a science or engineering problem, but they may have a medical component, an international law facet, a diplomacy or geopolitical aspect, an ethical challenge.

What we are really speaking of, here, is a diversity-enhanced education with:

  • Diversity of Approach — whereby students acquire grounding in disciplinary fundamentals, combined with the ability to work across multiple disciplines and sectors;

  • Diversity of Pedagogy — whereby education is enhanced and expanded through the utilization of a variety of new media and tools, and knowledge of cognition patterns, which enlarge learning opportunities;

  • Diversity of Outlook — whereby students, through an international experience, are exposed to diverse cultures with associated differences in thought, approach, lifestyle, and practice; and

  • Diversity in Fact — whereby all of our young people, including the "new majority" of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, and groups underrepresented in science, engineering, mathematics and technology, are encouraged and inspired to education at the highest levels.

We ask a lot of our young people . . . although sometimes, I think we do not ask enough . . . because, as they assume the reins of leadership, they will be called upon to find the political and diplomatic solutions for global challenges, but they, also, must find the technological solutions, the discoveries, the innovations upon which turn the rebalancing of the asymmetries of today's world.

All of the great challenges which the world faces — including human health, the environment, clean water, food production — will require innovation and collaborative research. Energy security is, perhaps, the greatest — at this time — and it confronts every nation. We must innovate to provide diverse alternative energy sources, innovate to conserve, and innovate to develop new extraction, use, and transportation technologies for existing fossil sources.

Global research partnerships in a multisector, multinational framework can provide multidisciplinary approaches to the resolution of these challenges. Collaboration will enable us to innovate at an unprecedented pace. And, living on a shared planet of limited resources, that pace is essential.

The urgency of energy security impels all of us to engagement and to leadership —

  • Leadership to tackle the innovations which will assure our national security, global energy security, and a global future.

  • Leadership to resolve the "Quiet Crisis": to assure that we tap the complete talent pool, that all young people have a sound understanding of science, that they are inspired and encouraged to take challenging subjects early, and that we instill in them the excitement — and the hope — of science.

  • Leadership to assure that young people have the kind of higher education which addresses global leadership and the function of science in policy issues.

  • Leadership to base public policies on sound science; and,

  • Leadership toward a cultural shift — to value science and those who do it.

This is required of all of us — elected leaders, government officials, scientists, engineers, of course, but the leadership odyssey extends to each within his or her own sphere of influence. In the end, the world and its very future looks to each of us to build the kind of human society that we treasure.


Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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