Two days into October, students gathered in UNO’s community engagement center for a day of prominent discourse and debate. The YSEALI Fall Academic Fellows were fortunate enough to be part of this 38th Annual Global Studies Conference which carried the theme ‘Rethinking Global Security: Emerging Threats and Challenges’. Out of all the sessions, I particularly enjoyed the third panel session which discussed the all too real treat of climate change to global security. Despite our daily balks of injustice at ISIL, Boko Baram and other terror threats, there is an even more pressing threat to humanity just lurking around the proverbial corner: Global warming. Personally, I cannot shake the feeling of dread that while we go about killing each other out of misunderstanding, bigotry and spite, global warming will eventually wipe us all out. In President Obama’s address to graduates at the United States Coast Guard Academy, he highlighted immediate risks to global national security, contributions to increased natural disasters and escalation in humanitarian crises, and potentially increasing refugee flows and exacerbated conflicts over basic resources like food and water. This is a very real threat that needs to be address sooner rather than later.
Speaking of solutions, the session panelists presented broad and comprehensive arguments that the solutions we have now are virtually useless. The floor was explicitly in agreement on the need for the enactment and enforcement of new sweeping reforms. Mr. Wheeler from University of Nebraska-Lincoln brought up an interesting (and sadly, a slightly overlooked) point whereby there is only 70 to 85 percent efficiency in electricity generation and distribution. The figures are stunning. We don’t need to build more power plants; we don’t need to discover the next ‘Holy Grail’ in energy generation; we don’t need to rethink the way we use electricity. The only thing we need to do is to increase efficiency in power generation. That’s it. Just increase efficiency and we are able to save so much more resources, energy and most importantly, buy enough time to develop cheaper and more advanced green technologies.
No solar power mumbo-jumbo; no hogwash about cracking the infinite energy equation; no sci-fi enthusiast’s wet-dream about colonizing Mars. No. We just need to increase the efficiency of our power generation and distribution. Global warming, simple solution.