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Seminar 9

“Future of Planet Earth” Participant Statement

Paris, France | June 3–5, 2008

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Eric J. Chaisson

What are the three most critical challenges facing Planet Earth going forward?

The three most critical challenges now facing planet Earth are energy, energy, and energy – understanding past energy-driven changes that have literally created us, recognizing the importance of energy use in our global society today, and demonstrating sensitivity to our descendents’ future energy needs on and beyond Earth:

1. Energy – specifically, the flow of energy per unit mass – is the single most unifying process that gave rise to increasing complexity over the course of billions of years, thus helping to produce galaxies, stars, planets, and life forms.

2. Energy – especially the rate of energy density usage, or per capita power consumption – is what maintains, indeed drives, our civilization today more than any other dynamic factor.

3. Energy – again, the use of it per unit time and per unit mass – is a key technical and sociological issue around which to plan a better Earth for future generations, not merely within the next hundred years but also within the next thousand years.