Rachel Pritzker – TRANSCRIPT
So, quick question: is energy use good or bad? This is what’s considered modern energy access in the developing world: enough to power a fan, two light bulbs and a radio, for just a few hours a day. What would your life be like with that little energy? We’re all here today because we have access to a lot more energy than that.
From a human perspective, energy use is good It allows us to live healthy, secure, modern lives. But from an environmental perspective, I think we could all agree that the way we generate energy today is pretty bad. There are a lot of negative consequences: air pollution, damage to ecosystems, and, most daunting of all, climate change. One of the biggest challenges we face in the 21st century is how to move billions of people in the developing world out of poverty, without catastrophically warming the planet.
It sounds impossible, right? I don’t think so. Not only is there reason to hope, but I believe it is possible, just not in the ways most of us might think. JFK once said: “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” So, ten years ago, I started a foundation to support new ideas for addressing some of the world’s key challenges, namely climate change and global poverty.
Working with some of the world’s foremost experts, I learned how inextricably linked these issues are. Once I understood this, I realized that most of the comfortable truths I had believed about what it would take to power a planet were actually myths, myths. I needed to question. What you might not guess about me is that I was raised on a goat farm in Wisconsin, by hippie parents who met on a commune. So, we built our cabin and grew all our own vegetables, and to this day, my parents speak proudly of how we cooked and heated with a wood stove. We believed that modern high-energy living was ruining the planet and that we’d all be better off living more like our ancestors did.