Tonight in Menlo Park: Cafe Scientifique talk on social justice and fossil fuel


If the people of Earth burned a cubic mile of oil per year, could we succeed in the effort to wean ourselves from fossil fuel? We do burn that amount of oil, says SRI scientist Ripudaman Malhotra, who will speak about energy use at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, at SRI International headquarters, Middlefield Road and Ringwood Avenue in Menlo Park.

A cubic mile per year is just the oil; with other energy sources considered -- coal, natural gas, wood, nuclear, etc. -- we burn the equivalent of three cubic miles, Mr. Malhotra said in a statement. And by 2050, he expects we'll be burning 6 to 9 cubic miles.

Mr. Malhotra will speak at the March Cafe Scientifique. He is associate director of SRI's chemical science and technology laboratory and the co-author of "A Cubic Mile of Oil: Realities and Options for Averting the Looming Global Energy Crisis."

The issue of energy use, he said, tends to be portrayed as tension between "the moral imperative to protect the environment versus preserving the energy industry's economic interests."

Mr. Malhotra reframes the debate to finding an equilibrium between environmental protection and social justice such that everyone has affordable energy and the chance to live a healthy and productive life. "There are choices to be made, and the public must get engaged," he said.

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