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?

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

This 5-minute neck scan can spot dementia 10 years before it emerges

The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.

Mikhail Kalinin via Wikipedia
Mind & Brain
  • The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
  • Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
  • The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Keep reading Show less

How 'dark horses' flip the script of success and happiness

What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.

Big Think Books

When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.

Keep reading Show less