Monday, July 8, 2013

WCMC-Q visitor outlines challenges ahead for a more sustainable future

Ocean science and technology expert Dr. Charles Greene was in Doha to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2012 (COP18) this week [December 3] and took time out to visit Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar to share his views on shaping a more sustainable world in the future.

Professor Greene is the director of the ocean resources and ecosystems program in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. His talk was titled: A Need for Qatari Leadership in Securing a Sustainable World for Future Generations.

“Imagine a future in which Qatar plays a leading role in solving the greatest challenges confronting humanity during the 21st century. Imagine an integrated solution to climate change, energy security, and food security emerging from the Arab world of the Middle East and Saharan North Africa. The realization of such a future and such a solution are a lot closer to reality than many people can imagine,” Professor Greene said.

He also described a bold plan to transform modern society from its currently
unsustainable fossil-fuel addiction to a new reliance on algal bioenergy and concentrated solar power. Along with this energy transformation, the plan also integrates a suite of technologies that will reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere while simultaneously providing new sources of food, freshwater, and employment to regions of the world where all of these things are in short supply.

In a broad ranging discourse about the long-term impacts of global warming, climate change, the consequences of rising sea levels and the near universal dependence on declining resources of fossil fuels, Professor Greene outlined a grim future that could have a major impact on the way we live our lives and conduct our business.

 “By demonstrating leadership in addressing humanity’s greatest challenges, Qatar can not only ensure its own national security, it can help stabilize an increasingly unstable world,” Professor Greene said.

Small steps are already in place in Qatar with an experimental solar energy and algae cultivation plant established as part of the Sahara Forest Project at Mesaimeer.

On its website, the pilot program describes its mission designed to utilize what we have enough of to produce what we need more of, using deserts, saltwater and carbon dioxide to produce food, water and clean energy. This is done by combining already existing and proven environmental technologies, including saltwater-cooled greenhouses, concentrated solar power (CSP) and technologies for desert revegetation around a saltwater infrastructure. 

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