Richard N Zare, Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science, Stanford University, California
Date/Time: 18th October 2011
The first challenge in exploring this highly emotive topic is to define what we mean when we speak of wanting human sustainability on planet Earth. One of the most widely quoted answers was put forward in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations: ‘sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. What is unclear from this quote, however, is whose needs are being referred to and what those needs are. In this lecture, Professor Zare addressed the problem from a chemist’s viewpoint, with a special emphasis on the need to generate more energy in the coming decades without compromising the ability of future generations to do so.