A Systems Science Approach to Building Sustainable Low-Carbon Economies


A very clear scientific message has emerged from the work over the past decade on climate science and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions: reduce the environmental burden by roughly 90% in 3 – 4 decades. This target requires a complete ‘reboot’ of how energy and economic systems are envisioned and implemented. Beyond a needed tighter relationship between life-cycle energy costs and benefits, and beyond an also necessary true integration of social science and behavioral research,  the social and environmental impacts of energy systems must become the crux of the development and deployment process.  To do this, working examples at all scales will be needed.  In this talk, we explore viable, transformative examples of this reconfiguration from household to national and regional scale.

2 thoughts on “A Systems Science Approach to Building Sustainable Low-Carbon Economies

  1. This presentation left me with so many questions. There was so much that was talked about and so little time. I was not aware about much of what Daniel Kammen was presenting but might research it to get more acquainted with the innovative ways in which plans like that of California are trying to implement to decrease the effects of global warming in the state. Some of the policies that I did not see on the presentation but think would have a big impact on reducing Green House emissions would be to try and improve the public transposition systems throughout the state so that more Californian’s would be inclined to use them. Something such as creating a mandate that would help make a change from regular buses to zero-emission buses fueled by hydrogen fuel cells could help decrease the harmful chemicals released by cars and other pollutants, however this is just a thought that crossed my mind during the presentation. A very interesting fact that was touched upon during the presentation and shocked me was the research done in Britain that concluded that when days are warmer than usual there is a spike in domestic violence. This certainly an important social issue caused by global warming, and could potentially get worse as days get warmer. Overall, this presentation was very informative to all the policies and ideas that are being implemented to decrease GHG in California.

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  2. It was a great honor to get a lecture from Daniel Kammen. He was an exceedingly good lecturer and a brilliant environmental scientist. He was arguing that we need to have a serious drop in greenhouse gases within the next 3-4 years, or our country is going to suffer severely.
    Currently there is a 4 degree Celsius standard that is seen as the point we need to avoid. However fossil fuels are not scarce enough to stimulate interest in sustainable energy technologies. In order to deal with this Kammen contends that we need holistic energy pricing and to continue making solar energy cost competitive with other forms. California is already struggling to meet its goal of a 25% reduction in emissions, and movement towards greener technologies is a necessary component of achieving that. People need to see the necessity of change and the impact that they can provide. Without people being aware of the impact that the misuse of energy resources will have in the long-term makes change especially slow moving.
    His lecture was incredibly well presented, but I felt there he took too long getting into the actual issues and what they were aiming to do. I would have liked to hear more about approaches they are using to get both houses and office buildings equipped to deal with new emissions standards. He did mention how office buildings in particular were proving difficult to convert, but did not expound on why they chose to do this or how less wealthy companies are accommodating to the changes.
    I thought this lecture was one of the absolute best in the class and gave a very good description on the energy crisis we are suffering from. Hopefully we can continue to develop new technologies that allow us to further emissions reduction in the future.


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