Saturday, June 13, 2009

Interverw with TechBlorge on Virtual Graduation Speech to Class of 2099 on Climate Change -- questions by Susan Wilson

> 1) Why address the class of 2099 and not 2009 in your YouTube video?

This is a good question. In fact, I am really addressing the class of
2009, today, and next year's class of 2010, and after that the class
of 2011, for the next 90 years, but I really wrote this speech, and
made the video, for today's graduates -- now in 2009! But I wanted to
frame the speech as a speech to the future, in order to give readers
and listeners some food for thought, as these questions here
illustrate. By addressing a future class in the year 2099, when I (and
the rest of us reading this text today) will be dead, I wanted to
create a kind of dramatic sense of how time flies and what will the
future really be like in the year 2099, and will there even be a world
then? Well, of course, there will be a world then, but for college
gradutes in the year 2099, I think they will be facing an even more
dangersous and dire situation than the world faces today in regards to
our use of coal and fossil fuels and the impact of all this on climate
change and global warming. But to answer your very good question
above, in fact, this speech is for the class of 2009, framed with a
dramatic device to give a future feeling as well.

> 2) Do you think the same issues will be around in 2099 or do you think?

I think the same issues will be around in 2099, yes, and they will be
be more serious and dire, as I said above. We must tighten the noose
around coal, as Dr Jesse Ausubel of Rockfeller University said in
1988, and whose remarks I quote in this speech to the class of 2099.
In fact, the time to turn back climate change is now, not then. It
will most likely be too late in 2099 to do anything to turn back the
climate clock then; the time to take action is now. That is the main
purpose of my wake-up call speech. By 2099, it will be too late. It
might even be too late now. Many leading scientists have said we have
already crossed the tipping point threshhold. So we must take action
now, not in the year 2100. This new generation of college graduates
have a huge burden on their shoulders. I hope they fight climate
change successfully both as green consumers and as future politicans
and business leaders.

> 3) Won't changes that are made now change the issues you address?

If we can make important changes now, in the way we live and the way
we use energy (and the amount of energy we use) and the fossil fuels
we burn to make energy -- and this includes people in China and India
and Brazil as well as in the USA and the UK -- then the class of 2099
might find themselves living in a much-better prepared world, and in a
world that has successfuly stopped climate change in its tracks. So
yes, the time to make these changes is now. Soon. Within the next 10
years. By 2099, it will be too late. My speech is a kind of cri du
coeur to the future, but really aimed at today's students.

> 4) Will fossil fuel and coal still be the main source of power?

I hope not. In my opinion, we must stop the use of fossil fuel and
coal now, today, within the next ten to twenty years. People don't
want to hear this, people want to go on with their lives and think the
future is forever. We are living in very dangerous times, not for us
now, but in terms of the future of humankind. If we care about future
generations in say the year 2500, we must act strongly now. We must
completely stop the use of coal and fossil fuels. We must stop all car
and truck and bus and taxi transportation now. We must stop all air
traffic worldwide now. We must completely tighten the noose around
coal and other fossil fuels. If we do not do this soon, the very
existence of the human species will be at stake. Not now, because now
life is wonderful. I am talking about the human species in the year
2500 or 3500. Do we care about what our descendants will be doing 500
years in the future, 1500 years in the future? I care. We should all
care. The time to make sacrifices has arrived. We cannot go on kidding
ourselves anymore. That is what my speech to the class of 2099 --
really 2009 -- is all about.

> 5) What changes could be made today that would make this speech to the
> graduating class of 2099 completely obsolete?

If we stopped all use of coal and fossil fuels for our energy needs
now, my speech will be obsolete. If we do not do this, my speech with
be seen as prophetic. I recently heard from a top climate modeller at
Stanford University, who told me after watching the video of my
speech: "This is prophetic!" And he knows much more about all this
than I do.

> 6) Do you think that the computers of the future will resemble our
> computers or what will they be like?

Good question. I have no idea what computers will be like in 2099, but
I am sure they will change from what they are today. They will even
look different! My guess is that newspapers and magazines will be
replaced by online publications, and the world will be even more wired
than it is today. But if we do not turn climate change around in the
next 10 to 20 years, then life in the future will be so chaotic and
desperate and sad (almost like life in a Mad Max movie or as Cormac
McCarthy describes it in his novel "The Road") that the kind of
computers we have then will not be important. But if we can tackle
global warming and stop it in its tracks, human civilization will have
a brigh future, and computers will play an important part in that
future. I wish I could be around to see the future. Sadly, I am going
to die in the next 20 years. I don't have much time left on this


questions sby Susan Wilson
Weaverville, NC 28787

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