The Disaster Movie Approach to Fuel Efficiency

Question: How can nations unite to battle climate change?

Felix Kramer: I sometimes wonder why the world can’t unite the way you see in movies when you… when there is an asteroid heading toward the earth and we know it’s coming in a few years we all get together somehow or when we’re about to be invaded by some aliens the world cooperates and we have that kind of an asteroid heading toward us. It’s called climate change or global warming or global weirding, which is what some people talk about, extreme temperatures and the world is changing and we need all to get together on this and we don’t and we don’t declare an end to business as usual. The biggest challenge at this point is for people to realize that the next generation is going to be living in a very different world and if we don’t’ get together and do something about it we will be committing a great crime to our descendants by plundering the world and by not fixing it and we still have time to do that, but the time is running out.

Question: Do you think that the government should focus or prioritize certain R & D projects?

Felix Kramer: For a long time everyone said, “Let’s promote all alternatives.” “Let’s not lose the chance that maybe some good technology will turn out to be much more promising than we thought.” “We can’t afford to pick winners.” But in fact, we’ve been picking winners for years. For centuries the US government has been… We started financing Samuel Morris’ telegraph and ever since then we’ve been pouring money into technologies. Aerospace helped the computer industry grow and radio technology and now a lot of people are starting to realize that it’s time to pick winners. We don’t have the resources to support everything and electricity has emerged as that kind of a solution, which is… which solves many, many problems and exists… and using existing technology. We have to put the pieces together differently. That means we don’t have to wait for breakthroughs. All the breakthroughs are welcome when they happen, but we can get started and go very far with today’s technology, so there seems now finally to be a recognition that this a time to choose one primary route for transportation in particular and that is electrification.

Question: How can we overcome the huge costs of creating sustainable energy is America?

Felix Kramer: It’s a big question when whether we will declare business as usual and if we did we would say it’s time to spend the money to make this transition as rapidly as possible. Some people have estimated it would cost 600 billion dollars to rapidly accelerate the growth of the electrification of transportation. That happens to be the same amount of money we send overseas every year for imported oil, so it sounds like a lot of money, but we’ll be way ahead of the game if we do it and if it involves spending a little more on electricity and if it involves a complicated system where people who need to drive for work are subsidized and where we have maybe a… what’s called a fee based systems where the big heavy vehicles are highly taxed and the more efficient vehicles are less taxed. There are a lot of solutions here, but we have to have the will to do it and to say we can’t be afraid of calling for a gas tax. We can’t be afraid of saying that some things are going to have to change.

Remember in movies like "Armageddon" and "Independence Day," when the world united to combat asteroids and aliens…well, why can’t we do this in the sustainable energy movement?

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less