Energy is the economic engine of the world. Access to secure energy — affordable, available, reliable, and sustainable — is vital not only for economic health but also for lifting the world from poverty. Energy and the economy are intimately linked to capacity to invest in the environment, including adapting to climate change. Unfortunately, the climate dialogue has taken on faith-based tones: “Do you ‘believe’ or ‘deny’ climate change?” Climate change is not something one believes or denies; rather, it is something one studies, tests, improves scientifically, and seeks solutions for. While energy “solutions” to climate change today tend to define renewable energy as “good” and fossil and nuclear energy as “bad,” in reality, all forms of energy at scale have environmental benefits and challenges. Further, proposed carbon “solutions” are politically skewed toward carbon pricing and global wealth redistribution. Does a global energy approach exist that both addresses climate change and poverty and preserves healthy economies? Will politically motivated voices continue to bias the conversation, or can a “radical middle” be found at the nexus of energy/poverty/climate? To address these questions and avoid the unintended consequences of ostensibly well-meaning but sometimes harmful policies requires a culture of fact-based, transparent, and accessible energy education, accompanied by open, objective, and honest dialogue around such things as scale, emissions, land use, water, thermodynamics, mining, economics, modeling, and policy. Through this kind of honest conversation, convergence on workable solutions might be possible; several such solutions will be examined here.
Scott Tinker’s passion is bringing disparate groups together to address difficult energy challenges.
Dr. Tinker is director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, the State Geologist of Texas, and a professor holding the Allday Endowed Chair at The University of Texas at Austin. He has served as president of the American Geosciences Institute, the Association of American State Geologists, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. Dr. Tinker is a Halbouty Leadership Medalist, a Boyd Medalist, and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. In his visits to over 55 countries, he has given 700 keynote and invited lectures to government, industry, academic, and general audiences; he also serves on many private, public, academic, and government boards and advisory councils. Tinker co-produced and is featured in the award-winning energy documentary film Switch, which has been screened in over 50 countries to more than 15 million viewers and is used on thousands of college campuses. Dr. Tinker is currently making a sequel film, SwitchON, that addresses global energy poverty.