Andrew McAfee: "More From Less" | Talks at Google

Andrew McAfee:

Show Video

Okay. Thank you for having me thank you all for coming I, want, to start off by presenting just a blizzard, of evidence, about. Our relationship. With the planet that we all live on and I want to make the case that for a while for, basically the entire industrial. Era that, relationship, was somewhere. Between you. Know exploitive. And actually, abusive, so, let me show you what I mean by that here, is a picture of a hundred and seventy years of economic growth in the US and when, your economy grows at 2 or 3% a year steadily. You get that nice ski, jump kind of exponential, growth here. Comes the unfortunate, part this, is how much energy we, needed to generate that economy, year after year it's almost a one-for-one, relationship in. The, 20th, century our, data got a little bit better so let me zoom in on the 20th century here's the American economy over, 70. Years and here's. How many natural resources, we required. Year, after year to have that level of economic. Growth these are metals, fertilizer. Almost. Doesn't matter what resource you look at you notice this incredibly, tight relationship. Between, the. Size of the economy and the amount of resources, that we needed to in order to generate that economy, so you know we're taking stuff from the earth it's kind of an exploitive, relationship. It gets, worse in my eyes here's. What air pollution, looked like in the years leading up to 1970. We were polluting. The skies and the water and the land more. Year, after year and when I was researching the book one of the crazy things I learned was, that up until about the middle of the 20th century it was not widely accepted that. Pollution, was anything more than an annoyance, or a nuisance, the idea that it might actually, really. Negatively impact, our health was, just not widely accepted at all and in. Addition to polluting, the world that we lived on. We. Took some of the most majestic some, of the most amazing animals, on the face of the planet and almost. Wiped them out so. This is the number of blue whales this is a representation, of a number of blue whales and the Southern Oceans in 1970. By the early nineteen, 1900. By the early 1970s, we, had them down to about as far as we can tell about 500, animals in all of the Southern Oceans, so this is just flat abuse, of the planet that we live on as far as I can tell especially. Because when, you look at what we used these animals, for we, killed almost all the blue whales to make margarine and. Lubricants. And nitroglycerin. To, make explosives, we had other sources. For these materials, so this is just you know we can all look at this of some kind of environmental crime and the, environmental. Movement in the United States and around the world was, born around 1970. With the first Earth Day and one, of the things that we heard one of the, main. Ideas that came out of that movement was this, can't continue, this headlong, exponential. Growth that.

We've Been doing especially in the rich world we, see the bad consequences, of it you can't keep taking more from the earth you can't keep beating up the species you can't keep polluting it and the, only way around this is for that exponential, curve of our growth to. Change direction to level off and actually if you listen to this school, of thought to. Go negative in other words we need a permanent ever deepening, recession if, we're, going to start taking better care of our planet the slogan, was that the only sustainable growth is d. Growth and, I, want to talk about the the second chapter of this story of our relationship with our planet the first point I want to make is that we, in America have. Really not embraced, D growth at all there's, real GDP, up to. 1970. Here's, what it's looked like since then you, have trouble, seeing, massive. Voluntary. Renunciation. Of consumption, in America our, economy is growing a little bit more slowly than it used to but, it's still growing at a pretty steady clip, and where, things get interesting to, me is when we look at what's happened, to this, relationship, with our planet, and in particular, are we still exploiting. It to the same extent that we used to do we still need to take more from the earth year, after year in order, to generate our prosperity, in our economy, and my answer to that and the, reason I wrote the book is no. Essentially. And let me try to make that case with some evidence here here's. What American, crop tonnage, has looked like since the mid 1950s, we, are an agricultural, juggernaut the, tonnage of crops that we produce goes up year after year but. Now let's add on, the. Main inputs, to agriculture. This is what total, fertiliser, use in America. Looks like this is not fertilizer use per acre this is total fertilizer, use in the country it used to go up in lockstep with our crop tonnage, that's decoupled. Now the same thing is true of water, for agriculture, and the, same thing is true for the actual acreage, of land that we need to generate all of that crop output since. The early 1980s, we have given an amount of land back to nature from agriculture, equal. In size to the state of Washington this is a big reversal. If we look more broadly this, is again this is the overall size of the economy from 1900. To 2015, this, is what the paperwork. Burden, of the American economy looks, like we, plateaued, our total paper consumption, around the turn of the century and as we've moved deeper into the smartphone, era our, total, use of paper has declined by about 20 percent we, see the same thing with other forest, products, so we're just starting to build this narrative, about taking, less from the earth to generate, our prosperity, I want, to show you the story about metals, use in America, and before, I do that I. Want, to take on the, counter-argument. That the reason that resource, use is declining, is because, we're outsourcing, all of our resource used to China and other countries I hear the argument pretty, often that, this dematerialization. Story. That I'm telling is really, an offshoring, story, and if you try to account for that properly you, won't come to the same conclusion, the, main reason I don't buy that is that, the United States remains a, manufacturing. Powerhouse we, hear about the decline of American manufacturing, and there's some elements, of that that are true but, this is actually what, our total manufacturing. Activity. Looks, like over a pretty long space of time whether, you look at a more general production, index, or manufacturing. One we are a large and growing, manufacturing. Powerhouse. Number. Two in the world China's past us but when we look at our total consumption, of metals we, see a really different pattern, emerge, and in, the years since Earth Day our use, of our total consumption of a lot of important, plateaued, and is now on a generally, downward, trend I do. Want a little bit of credit for trying to make the metals lines the, same color as the metals themselves, and I'm weirdly, proud, of that here so, we've just seen this really this very very broad decoupling. Of. Economic. Growth from. Resource, consumption, and it, was almost totally unanticipated as, I've gone back and looked at the literature, and the schools, of thought around Earth Day and afterward I didn't. See this cropping up anywhere anybody's, saying hey don't worry we're, about to substantially, divorce, our economic.

Growth From our exploitation. Of the planet from resource use let's, switch now let. Me do one more let's look at total energy, use remember here, was the line up until, 1970. And this, is what's been happening, since then the, American economy is about 25 percent bigger than it was at the end of the Great Recession our our energy use has hardly ticked up at all over, that time again, I didn't know anybody that was anticipating. It we are finally, on a downward, trend with our total co2 emissions. In large, part because of the substitution. For of natural, gas for coal for, electricity generation, I don't want to sound. Like I'm complained at all, global, warming is real and bad, and we're not doing enough to fight it but, it is also true that this style this kind of pollution is now on a downward, trend even after, you take into account the, fact that we've outsourced, been offshored a lot of our manufacturing. So. Here's, our old pollution, graph what's been happening since 1970. The story is an incredibly, positive one, the, air in America, is I think about 90% cleaner than it was 50, years ago the measures we've put in place to. Clean up our skies have been fantastically. Effective. What. About we, we have to talk about global warming when, I think about global warming and, greenhouse gases, as another flavor of air pollution things, get a lot conceptually, simpler, to me we've, had amazing, success at air pollution reduction. Reducing, greenhouse gases will be difficult, for a lot of reasons but, it's not mysterious it's, another category of air pollution, and if, any of us have economists, friends, we, know that economists, agree on absolutely. Nothing I have. Never seen broader agreement, across the economics, discipline than on the best tool, for fighting global warming which, is to make carbon expensive. Via a carbon. Dividend. 3,500. Economists, and Counting have signed on to a letter espousing. This as the smartest thing for us to be doing so, again global warming is real and it's bad and it's going to be tough to fight it is, not a mysterious. Problem it's a pretty well understood one, and then the last set. Of pictures that I want to show or about our friends the whales their, populations, are actually coming back nowhere. Near where they were at the start of the 20th century but, the trends, are in the right direction and when we look at other threatened, species the, Bison the beaver, wolf, white, tailed deer black, bear, populations. Are growing at least in the rich world here so we hear a lot of gloom and doom and we should focus on things that aren't going well there are a lot of very positive trends. In our relationship, with the planet and in the book I talk about why they're happening and this is my shorthand explanation. For what's going on we're, using fewer resources because. Companies, that are knocked in locked, in nasty competition, want to save money and the, digital age offers all kinds of ways to swap out atoms and swap in bits that's the combination of capitalism, and tech progress, we, need an aware public, to say stop polluting our skies and stop killing all the whales and we need responsive, governments to listen to that if we have them and I call these in the book the Four Horsemen of the optimist, it's delicate, you got to put them in place you have to be vigilant about them but, when all four in place I actually am very confident.

That We can eliminate the trade-off between our prosperity, and a healthy state of nature we can have both at the same time this. Is shameless, pandering, but I want to show you one final piece. Of evidence about how things can be better over, time this, is not photoshopped, this is an actual picture of a whale off the coast of New York City they're coming back to. That, that, part of the country now, so. You've shared with us several of the trends that you've seen some of the trends that you've studied and shared in your book a lot. Of this is tracing, the various industrial revolutions, that we've been through in our US economy in our global economy and many people would say today we're in the fourth Industrial, Revolution so. Tell us more about how do we think about those four industrial, revolutions, that we've been to and how do you define the fourth Industrial, Revolution first. Of all the proper, term is the second Machine Age and I think we all need to be very clear about that when you write a book with that title. You prefer it to the fourth Industrial, Revolution but. When the reason I wrote this book is I started, to think there is a three, chapters, story about, our relationship, with the planet that we live on the, first chapter was prior to the Industrial Revolution when. We could not take enough resources from the earth to meaningfully. Increase, our population. Or a prosperity, we, really did live in this weird Malthusian. World where, there's this hard ceiling on how prosperous. We could be the, Industrial, Revolution completely. Changed that story and we unlocked, the energy and fossil fuels and you just watch the. Trajectory, of human. Population. And prosperity, completely, change direction it just goes almost vertical, but, that second chapter of the industrial, era we, were kind of hard on the planet, we took resources, from that we exploited, species, we polluted, in a kind of a wanton, way and the. Great triumphs of the environmental, movement I think was to say we can't, keep doing this you have to stop in to demand action on it and what. The chapter that I think we're in now is a much more encouraging, one where, in the United States and another very wealthy. Technologically. Advanced economies, we're seeing that trade-off, between. Increased. Human prosperity and, taking better care of nature we're, seeing that trade-off fade, and I think it's going to be in the rearview mirror if we, play our cards right. Even. With the the real, and present, danger, of global warming we, can solve that problem I'm very confident, we can that's different than saying we will but, I think our tools are adequate, yeah, so. When we were preparing, for today's conversation you, know I I serve, as our sustainability, officer here at Google and you said you, know you feel like people don't always really define sustainability, that well so, I'm so curious people always ask me this question but I'd love to ask you this question how do you think about the role of, sustainability. What does that mean how does that factor into these trends that you're sharing in the book I find, it a really fuzzy word and I tend not to use it a lot because.

It Very, quickly turns into a hammer for people that make everybody else do what they want them to do whether that's what banned plastic, straws or, sign up for the green New Deal or whatever, but. When i if I think about the word though what it means to me is what are we doing that's that, will not be sustainable, that's demonstrable. Not sustainable, and I can think of two main things number. One is take all the resources from the earth you know use these as inputs, number. Two have so many bad side effects, from our economic, activities, that, we screw, up the planet and we screw up our health, and our prosperity, I'm really, worried about the second one of those two pollution, is real and it's bad and global, warming is, the most scary global, kind of pollution that we face one. Of the weirder conclusions, that I came to as I was writing the book is. Resource. Scarcity, is not something that we need to worry about it we've, been worrying about it for 50 years we've been panicked, about it there was a book called limits to growth written, out of MIT in 1972. That said the, global economy, is gonna grind to a halt because of resource shortages. No. And. When you look at the prices, the affordability, of almost any resource, any physical, building block for the economy, things, get more affordable over time not, less so, for me we, can take that off the table of sustainability. Concerns and let's, focus on the real issues which, are pollution. And. Fencing. Off parts. Of the world so that our, fellow creatures can live on them and to replenish themselves let's, not put everything into the capitalist, machinery. Let's put parks outside put, whales outside, and be mindful about that okay. So I'm curious I I'm, a big proponent of, the concept of Earth overshoot, days so there's great organizations. Right across the bay from where we are here today in Sunnyvale, at day, every, year calculate. When, have we exhausted. Nature's resource budget for the year this, year in 2019, that day was July 29th, so, what we know is every day since July 29th, we've been drawing down low school resource stocks emitting, more carbon dioxide into, the atmosphere they, can be absorbed so, what that means is we need 1.7. Earth's to, support today's consumption, how, do we square that with your research, I'm. Less of a fan of that organization, than you are because what I think they're doing is loading everything onto the carbon budget, and saying we cannot continue to emit this much carbon, great I'm all about reducing the amount of greenhouse gases, in the air but, the notion that we're. Using up 1.7, Earth's and we're doing that year after year if. That were the case I, think we were to run out of earth by now I just I can't make the arithmetic, work the way that they're looking at it so again we. Have to reduce greenhouse gases, we. Were not doing nearly enough on that front but these other worries, about using, up the earth I just. Don't think they're well-founded, right. So. On the topic of dematerialization, you, talked about that a little bit that that's a big role the technology, had played you showed a stat about paper talk, a little bit more about what do materialization. Means to you and what you see as the big drivers that have enabled that the. The, single best example, of this broad trend, of being able to satisfy all of our wants and needs all of our desires to consume while, taking less from the earth came. From, a retired. Newsman, in Buffalo, New York and this guy's idea, of a good time was, to wander, around yard, sales in Buffalo and see, if anything reminded him of the history of that city and he, bought a stack of newspapers of, the Buffalo News from 1991.

Took. Him home and started flipping through him and he found a Radio Shack ad, in the back of one of the sections of a newspaper. And, he. Had this wonderful insight, he said there were 15, items, 15, devices on this ad from, RadioShack from 1991. 13. Of them have vanished into your smartphone and you. Know do you. Carry. Around a camcorder anymore do, you carry around a film camera you carry around a scanner do you have a tape recording do you have an answering, machine you have a fax I don't have any of these things anymore, and if you weighed those, 13, devices, they would weigh a lot they, were kind of resource intensive, they would consume a lot of electricity as you use them throughout the year and they've all just vanished, down into the smartphone, and I think that's a very clear example of a phenomenon, that's happening in the foreground and the background of, every industry that I can think of which, is just not out of altruism, but out of a desire to satisfy, consumer. Demand while. Spending less money it, just, kind of impels, us to. Use. Less stuff from the physical world every, additional, you'll you typically pay for every, additional bit you typically don't. So. So we're here today at Google, you. Know on that smartphone that's dematerialized, all those devices you just mentioned a lot of people are using Google products, like search Gmail, and as we know the way that we deliver those products, to all of our users is through, our data centers our data centers are the heart and soul of Google they operate 24 by 7 around the world world to deliver those products, now we've been very focused on making, those data centers highly, sustainable we've, been a carbon-neutral company, since 2007. Or matching 100%, of our energy with renewables, we're driving on energy efficiency nonetheless. People, still often ask me the question and I'm sure they ask you too, how do we squaring that circle, are all, of these new, technology. Solutions, that were putting out into the world what's, enabled this to materialization. What, about that back-end energy. Use and also what about the ICT, infrastructure, that's right how do you think about that and I get asked exactly this question I was really ambushed, the first time I heard it and somebody said your, industry, is part, of the problem, not part of, the solution and your industry is growing so quickly in, the 21st, century that. I. Hear, this complaint that the digital industries, are massive, energy, stocks in America. And around the world, and I thought I hadn't heard that I was interested luckily. Thanks to Google, you can go find evidence, on a lot of questions that you're interested in so I drew a graph of again you know the size. Of the US economy as long as my favorite baseline and then the total, electricity, usage. Over the course of the 20th of the 21st, centuries, for, America, and it's, a super weird picture, because, again electricity, use just went up in lockstep with the overall size of the economy until. About ten years ago and, I had no idea but total, American electricity use has, been flat for about a decade even, as you and your peers have become bigger and more influential, companies that. Tells me that this that you actually are part of the solution, instead of part of the problem because. What's happening is that people are using all that computing, power and all of your data centers to, go save money on electricity elsewhere. In the economy and, if that weren't the case that, line would not have leveled, I can't think of another explanation for. That phenomenon, yeah you're absolutely right in a study that that, I often cite is Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, put out the study in 2016. That said over, the. Previous 10 years data, center injury energy use we've actually think was the previous five years data, center energy is basically held flat even. Though there was huge growth in the number of data centers in the US huge growth in compute, and we know we've seen here at Google that compared, to five years ago we're now getting seven, times more compute for the same amount of electricity so we're very much seeing that phenomenon, but I wanted to ask you I haven't, seen another study since, 2016. That, really dug into this is this something that you've looked at it that you guys might study at MIT I want to dive in deeper on a couple of these issues. And try to paint a more systematic, picture, because, I think we're getting some pretty fundamental things, wrong we're walking around with the Industrial, Age notion, that our consumption, and our growth has. To be more resource intensive over time has, to be harsher, on the planet over time and everybody.

From Vaclav, SMIL who's, one of my heroes he's written these amazing, books about our our. Consumption, and our use of materials, everyone. From him - Naomi climbed her greta Thornburg to that you know the young swedish activist is now, saying a modern version of the d growth argument, they're saying economic, growth has to stop to. Me that's exactly the same as saying that human prosperity cannot, increase anymore around the world I really. Have a problem with that argument and I think it's wrong on the merits I think we are now demonstrating. That we can increase human prosperity, and take. Better care of nature to. The extent that's true we, do not need to stop growing and, Dara Ghandi said in 1972. That poverty, is the greatest polluter, I think that's absolutely right, so, my prescription, is the opposite, of the de-growth prescription, it's let's help the rest of the world get rich they're, going to go through the same transition we did and they will start lightening up on the planet as well so. You talked about climate you acknowledge, that climate, is a crisis, that we're facing but it's something that has to be addressed and of course you know you shared some stats around. Ecosystems. That have bounced, back like you talked about blue whales but, also we know their ecosystems. That because, of climate are collapsing. Like ocean, acidification. That's ruining our coral reefs you, know how, do you square that with this argument where we see obviously you've acknowledged climate is a big issue but, climate is caused by consumption. Of fossil fuels that's. Fueled, this growth but, that's, something we haven't yet tackled, at scale and it is also hurting our ecosystems, where does that fit in I agree, with every, word of that and I got a lot of insight from William, Nordhaus who won the Nobel Prize last year in economics, and Marnie Weitzman another really good economist, and they both said kind of the same thing which is that there's a huge. Uncertainty. About how bad global, warming is going to be and. Some people think well because we don't know for sure it might not be that bad to heck with it and these guys said no you're thinking about it all wrong the, tail risk from global warming the, 10 or 15% tail risk is catastrophic. Ly, bad for the planet when, that's the case we have an obligation if, we do sharing any kind of obligation to deal with that magnitude, of risk when the tail is that fat and so, again they what Nordhaus, said was a carbon, a revenue-neutral, carbon tax, is the first, tool that we should be reaching for and that just means that we tax carbon companies. Run away from that additional cost but instead of the government keeping that money we just pass it right back to people in the form of a carbon dividend. And that, will have all these wonderful, effects, it frustrates. Me that as far as I can tell none, of the presidential, candidates are putting that front and center and I don't hear, a global, movement for the one thing that 3,500. Economists, can agree on I mean, we know something is fundamentally important, when 3,500, economists, can, agree on it yeah all right so you're you're highlighting one, of the interventions that you see is being imported from a policy perspective from, economic, perspective. And what. Other role do you see policy. Plaguing, or businesses. And, Geo's individuals, where do people fit into this, vision and in the book I kind of lay out prescriptions, for all those different groups, policy. Makers individuals. And families. Not-for-profits. And the business community and, your, industry is, taking. The lead on. Identifying. The problem, saying that it's real and B, and finding, good solutions your, carbon neutral I think, other high-tech companies, have either achieved, that or have, you know in a realistic, way signed up for that I hope, that spreads.

I, Sense. A wave of consumer. Sentiment, building, that is going to call companies, out on their bad carbon, practices, I desperately hope that continues but, the main thing that I try. To tell, individuals. And families to do is in, addition to changing. Some of your you know your your, activities. We. Have to inform ourselves about the best tools available to fight these battles we have to be evidence driven and that sounds really anodyne, we're, not evidence driven we're super tribal, we're all biased we love our intuition. Nuclear. Power, activates. And it reflects, among, almost everybody, that I talked to nuclear, power is absolutely. Part of the solution, for dealing with global warming and the fact that it's off the table and so much of the world is absolutely. Bizarre. And, super frustrating, to me yeah, so, so. Earlier you told me you don't think in industrial revolutions, so. What, but nonetheless what, do you think is this next era that we're moving into are we at the beginning of an era are we at the end of an era sort of where do you see us going from here situate, us a little bit about, once a century a wave of Technology comes along that's so powerful that it. Changes. The march of progress that happened with the steam engine and the first Industrial, Revolution it, happened, about a century later with internal, combustion and electrification and, indoor. Plumbing which is massively, valuable Eric. And I and. A. Bunch of our colleagues think that we're in another one of those periods right now it's, not going to happen overnight productivity. Is still lousy these, are decade, or decades-long transformations. But, I mean. How. Different is the world going to be in 50 years, I hear, pretty often that the way we live today is not that different than the way we did 50 years ago I think there's some truth to that 50. Years hence. And. We're living in a complete, science fiction world so we're, in the early innings of, another one of these very deep transformations. And I just think it's exciting that I get to try. To think, about it talk. About some of the trajectories, that we're seeing and, inject. A note of. Evidence-based.

Optimism. Elite, conversations. We out gloomy, eachother at, Cambridge dinner parties where I live and I don't want to be part of that trend anymore because I don't think the evidence supports, it we have challenges, but, if you go to our world and data which is one of my favourite websites and you just browse around you. Walk away happier, actually, most of the things not all most, of the things that I know you would care about and I would care about or trending, in the right direction we, need to emphasize that, you. Know it's just curious about where. Population, growth fits into all this. Yeah. It's a great question because population. Growth was another one of those things that we really started to worry about around, the time of the first Earth Day and Paul, Ehrlich wrote the book the Population Bomb, in 1968. I think it started off saying hundreds, of millions of people are gonna die in a famine and there's nothing we can do about it that was its opening, for the book, hundreds. Of millions of people did not die in a famine, and what, I think we've learned in the half-century since then, is that it's wrong to think about these additional, human beings as passive. Mouths that need to be fed or just, passive, resource, consumers, instead, they, are problem, solvers they're innovators, they're entrepreneurs. They're, part of this engine, of of ingenuity. That we have and if you look at the trends, around, that. Incidence of famine calorie. Availability. Human. Health they're, all heading in exactly the right direction even, as we've added I forget how many billion people since 1970. So the thing I'm more worried about over the course of the 21st, century is that we're not going to have enough, people and, in particular, the ratio of working age people to elderly people is going to shift a lot in the decades to come in most countries around the world that's, going to put stress on our pension systems, and things like that but, I still read reports, once in a while I'd say Oh My heavens can we feed all the mouths that will exist in 2050. Hey I find that unbelievably frustrating. Yes. We will feed them better than we're feeding them today even, as the planet warms I'll. Take that bet all day long, so I'm all for progress and I like this this story, but. Sometimes there can be these. Effects. And you mentioned, pollution, I think. Extinction. Is is another aspect, right. So you, have, these, traditional. Chinese, medicines, and, now these economies. Get richer and, suddenly. There, can be demand, for, ivory and, rhino parts, and, Jaguar. Parts and everything else that they couldn't afford before, and, now they could afford enough to wipe out these species what, do we do about that. I'm amazingly. Enough I think the trends, there and, in exactly the areas you mentioned, are positive. Trends, I want to acknowledge the problem though you bring up that low-income people relying, especially, on some kinds of traditional medicine as they, become more affluent they can put real pressure on those animals absolutely. China. Is my Exhibit A for that the, happy, version. Of an outcome there China, has what they call three strict bans in place now, on the sale of rhino, and tiger products, it's illegal to buy them sell, them or own them and they, either have put in place or about to put in place a very strict ban on the carving in the sale of ivory so, what my story for that is as those people became more affluent their.

Circle, Of empathy broadened, and they, actually decided to take better care of these creatures in addition, to which I think last year China was contemplating. Relaxing, those three strict bans on rhino, and tiger products and around. The world an outcry, ensued. Led, by environmental, groups and and. China walked away from relaxing, that ban said we're going to leave that in place so I think both internal. Desire to take better care of the environment. External. Pressure from, watchdog, groups and environmentalists. I'm not saying it's going to solve the problems everywhere in the world but I see some really encouraging, signs in exactly the places that that we were worried about. In. Regard to dematerialization. Are, there. Other industries. Or sectors that, are slow. To catch up or haven't really taken a positive, trend I'm thinking maybe airline. Travel, or fashion, when you're fast fast, fashion is a very very big, sort of consumer, thing where you know people are buying almost too, many shirt shoes and that thing that they really need and that's, still very impactful. To the environment, yeah. There are definitely industries, that are farther. Along on this trend and you bring up apparel and in particular fast fashion. We're especially. You know younger more style-conscious people now, can buy clothes that are designed to be worn a very small number of times and then throw them away again. As long as we are dealing with the bad side, effects, of that. When. You make clothing you generate a lot of chemicals, and dyes and you have to dispose of those correctly, in the, rich world we have. Safeguards. In place we have restrictions, on your on polluting. That are enforced, in the developing, world we don't my. Solution again make those countries more wealthy there people will start to demand solutions but. If we can deal with the pollution, that comes from making clothes I don't, need to be in blasé but we are not gonna run out of cotton wool, and, artificial. Fabrics we're just not so, I don't see the environmental, problem, from fast fashion, leaving, aside pollution, that's a very serious problem we don't we're not gonna run out of holes in the ground to put waste in and we're not gonna run out of things, like cotton, and wool so again. Struggling. To see what the real problem, is there I sometimes, I think people just don't like the trend and so they find reasons, to dislike it or to, oppose. It what. Is your thoughts on cobalt, like the battery charger, like you have any opinion that you can share on the resources, and from that, there's. A constant. Conversation, about. The resource, that is about to become scarce, and right, now we talk about cobalt, a lot we talk about lithium because we're all expecting, a battery revolution. What's interesting is that conversation has been going on forever or, at least as far back as as the first Earth Day and, every. Resource, that I've been able to track, has, gotten steadily more affordable, over time and what, I mean by that is we look at the world's average person. How. Many minutes would that person have to work to be able to afford a pound. A cheese a, pound of wool a pound of cobalt, whatever, and the, number of minutes has been trending downward. Very. Steadily, over time so. We do see price spikes don't met what happens with commodities, their, prices are very spiky but. What also happens, is the instant, cobalt becomes red-hot and the price goes up there. Will be a lot more cobalt prospectors. Out there in the world and I, we're gonna uncover some, vast cobalt, deposit, somewhere or other so. I'm not worried even about resource, shortages, of rare earth minerals, and cobalt and things like that history, tells me that that's not a thing to worry about now again. The. Thing to worry about is that right now cobalt, is being mined in very low-income countries, in very, unsafe. And environmentally. Unsound, ways. That. Is a super hard problem to fix we can put pressure on those countries we can put pressure on the companies that buy cobalt, so they sign up for sustainable, practices, we can absolutely do, that my fundamental, solution, improve, the incomes, of those countries, their people will start to demand a cleaner world.

Thank. You I think still coming to to, us, today you. Are saying that nuclear, poor it's part of the solution and I would like to you to expand on that I really. Think that. So. Many people think that nuclear has any incidents. On global warming which is very crazy of to the interest when you compare wells in Middle East it's totally crazy to think that so. I just want you to extend on that and, is that a French accent that I hear yes, and, your country just announced. In a very brave way that they're gonna build what, is it a, handful. Of new reactors via the Phoenix, one yeah and we see Germany as well which is stopping nuclear pore and increases the carbon consumption, with with. With. Yeah. So it was called I do, know who young laocoon is where. The AI rockstars, a French guy and I follow him mainly to get his AI thoughts, he posted a great graph a while back that showed, how. Much energy was generated in, each European, country and how carbon intensive, that energy, was and, you, look at Germany it's a big economy their carbon intensity, is pretty. Lousy, France. Was generating, about as much electricity every. Day for the period they studied and the carbon, density was so much lower for, your, country, and. We. Have exactly one, energy source in the world today that, is very, green very, potent. Very, scalable. Not, at all intermittent. And here's the part people have trouble with safe. The. Track record of nuclear power is by, far the best track record of energy sort any energy source we have to deal with when you look at death rates caused by accidents, or death, rates caused by pollution, it's, absolutely. Not even close and this, surprised the heck out of me I got freaked out by, Three. Mile Island when, I was a kid and Chernobyl, and Fukushima I just, watched the Chernobyl, miniseries, on HBO, it's terrifying, it's. Also fiction. The. The actual, death toll from Chernobyl, which was about as bad a nuclear. Accident as you could imagine was. I read the reports the death toll was real and it was bizarrely, low given how bad the accident, was so, I think our aversion to nuclear power is not grounded in the evidence and in, the book I just make a plea for us to be evidence driven about the things that we support. I think, the crazy is winning the argument on nuclear power and on, GMOs, and those are two areas where we really need for the crazy not to win the argument. Many. People focus on personal, plastic use water use etc in, the face of climate change yet, 100, companies and their investors create 70%. Of the world's co2 emissions, how. Do we hold them accountable as, well and get away from this solely individualistic. Mindset, which, itself is a driver of capitalism. Carbon. Dividend if you.

Want Companies to change their behavior, change, their costs, change their incentives, when, a company faces a sudden change in its cost structure it will run from that cost like a gazelle will run when it smells a lion it's, amazing. How quickly the behavior, will change so. If we want these companies to change lecturing. Them feels good it, accomplishes, almost, nothing change. Their incentives, change their cost structure and we have very. Well designed tools very precise tools, for doing that developed. By our my friends in the world of economics the reason that the the air pollution in the US went down so quickly was, because we put in place a cap-and-trade program, just another variant, on making pollution, expensive, in the US we, saw how much air pollution, improved and the, cost of doing it was, about 1/4, or 1/5, of the originally, estimated cost, for industry, so what happens when you change the cost suddenly as business has become a lot more willing to invest in, cost. Reducing. Activities, and they fund R&D, in a very different, way and I, think everyone, agrees that we need a massive, wave of R&D, investment, in clean and green energy by. Far the best way to get that is to start making the old energy expensive. For companies. How. Can you summarize some of the evidence for why your story is not an, offshoring one simply. Because if, that. Story it only makes sense to me if US manufacturing, we're declining, it's not declining we still make stuff we made more stuff every year but we make it while using, fewer. Metals. Fewer resources, from the natural, world so we are outsourcing, to China absolutely. And our manufacturing growth, has slowed down our. Manufacturing, growth is still positive our, metals, use has trended negative, I can't. Attribute, 100%. Of that to outsourcing, given those facts. All. Right Andrew, McAfee thank, you so much for the great discussion today the book is more from less thank, you all for being here. You.

2019-12-08 16:31

Show Video



The Great recession reduced consumption of everything for a decade !? Carbon taxing, trading... doesn't work; it is green wash to allow big polluters to carry on business as usual. The claim that a bunch of economics Profs singing a letter in support, scares rather than re-assures me. Get as many environmental science Profs and CEOs of major environment-NGOs to sign it too, and we can have a basis for conversation. Have you've watched the news about the latest UN report? . France is also building off shore wind farms; why don't you promote that instead of its nuclear activities? visit: Nuclear should remain off the table and we need to 'de-nuclearize' the planet, see the examples of New Zealand and the UK (esp. the Orkney islands' inroads to Hydrogen) It is crazy for the crazies to call those that oppose GMCs and nuclear crazies :-) In all your graphs you report Indices taking 1970 as a base=1. Pls give real numbers then let's see if you can tell the same story. Also descriptive statistics of just 2 variables at a time are pretty weak premise to imply causal links of what is happening or not happening. E.g. How much water in total did the US have in 1970 l how much water it has today? Maybe the quantity used in 1970 represented a small % of the total amount of water. I'm sure we are all have some ideas of when water shortages started becoming an issue for the US.Check out something called Groundwater decline and depletion: It is true that mob replaced a dozen or so devices but it is also true that people buy a mobile every year or two and this wasn't the case with the equipment that the mobile phone replaced. Plus not everybody owned and bought such equipment. Today mobile penetrations is 90% of the US and several Americans have more than one mobile phone. Rear earths have also to be transported from China; whereas there were no rare earths in the old tech the mobile replaced. It is true that the 'cost' of any 'technology' is going down over time (and so will do with renewables); part of the reason is that diffusion/adoption and thus the amortisation of the R&D involved int the said technology by more people/units of sale and another part is due to tech advancement which makes dematerialisation possible (e.g. we no longer need film to take photos and cause most people share them on line we don't even need paper to print them; whereas before that was compulsory for the given tech). However, these two stories/aspects shouldn't be mixed up with economic growth not placing additional demands on the environment, or with effective regulation or lack thereof. The main reason for example for the SO2 emissions dropped so much; i.e. one of your success story examples, in the US has been the introduction of regulation / legislation (clean air act of 1963 and there after) that brought them down from 31 million tonnes in 1970 to 3 million in 2017. To accomplish that there was a combination of additional factors; cf.

How will 5G affect our health and atmosphere, in regard to pollution ? Can we research this before exposing our children to it?

I feel so much better after watching this.

I agree with his techno-optimism and share his disagreement with Vaclav Smil on his thesis that growth has to stop, but I don’t agree on nuclear energy being part of the solution. I find Amory Lovins’ arguments on the uncompetitiveness of nuclear and artificial fusion energy when compared to natural fusion energy more convincing. His short article is for me probably the most enlightening article on energy I have ever read (I’m not an expert on this):

I actually do think that there will be reasonable applications for nuclear or hopefully fusion energy in the future, but in my opinion these energy sources will only be used for specific applications or to supplement to a very small degree solar and other renewables as the main energy sources, if at all.

He thinks a tax is the best way to solve global warming? What about nuclear power?

Just curious... how do you(Andrew) know how many blue whales are left in the oceans?

Did anyone catch the French AI guy doing graphs of CO2 intensity? Yung Makun? Yang Macoon?

What percentage of GDP growth is financial shell game? What percentage is the explosion of nail salons, healthcare (out of control), gyms etc? When viewed from a planet of 10 billion humans how do your assumptions hold up? Do you offer specific policy prescriptions to the GHG problem? Great talk...THANKS GOOGLE


Other news