“A Cubic Mile of Oil” author to speak at Café Scientifique on Tuesday, 3/15

by John McIntosh on March 14, 2011

SRI Associate Director Ripudaman Malhotra, PhD will be talking about his book A Cubic Mile of Oil at the the next Café Scientifique on Tuesday, March 15 at SRI in Menlo Park from 6:00 to 7:30 pm

The book is a call for an informed public debate on energy. It  describes how much energy the world uses and from which sources, where we are headed, and what it would take to utilize alternate methods for generating energy. The cubic mile of oil (CMO) is a metric for comparing global energy flows from all sources.

The current global consumption of oil (about 80 million barrels a day) amounts to 1 cubic mile used in one year. Each year, the world uses 0.8 CMO of energy from coal, 0.6 from natural gas, and roughly 0.2 from each of hydro, nuclear, and wood, for a grand total of 3 CMO. By about 2050, global energy demand should rise to between 6 and 9 CMO. Where will we source the energy needed to live and sustain growth?

Dr. Malhotra and his co-authors re-frame the debate about energy supply, which is often portrayed as a tension between the moral imperative to protect the environment versus preserving the energy industry’s economic interests. This simplistic view misses a more pressing challenge: to find a suitable equilibrium between protecting the environment — which would require us to stop using fossil fuels — against the equally important call for social justice — of providing people around the world with sufficient affordable energy so they can live healthy, productive lives. There are choices to be made, and the public must get engaged.

Café Scientifique, which is free of charge, is a place where anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology and debate science issues outside a traditional academic context.  We meet monthly to discuss a variety of science topics.  Coffee, tea and biscotti will be complimentary, provided by SRI. Bring your own mug if you wish to avoid using disposable cups. Courtesy of Kepler’s there will be a drawing for a $30 gift card for books or merchandise at Kepler’s on El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

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