Saul Griffith on Ezra Klein Podcast:

“How to solve climate change and make life more awesome”

Ezra Klein podcast: You can listen to this conversation — and others — by subscribing to The Ezra Klein Show

This conversation is about a vision of decarbonization that is genuinely awesome, and how we can actually get there.

Ezra Klein

“Can you paint a picture of what it could be like to live in a decarbonized world? Is there a vision of a decarbonized future that could actually be awesome — that people will want to buy into?”

Saul Griffith

“I think this is a great question. All of the politicians are pitching their climate plans from some top-down economic view, saying things like, “We’ll decarbonize this industry by this date.” It all sounds very abstract. No one has presented the Green New Deal from the kitchen table out: What will it look like in my home?

Instead of burning natural gas to make your coffee in the morning, you’ll have an induction range, which [can] be programmed to cook your coffee for you in a way that’s much easier. You’ll have better air quality, which will help cure things like allergies and severe asthma. You won’t have to worry about carbon monoxide anymore. You’ll be warmed by your radiant floor heating, which won’t give you that dry mouth in the middle of the night. The car will be charged overnight by renewables like wind. The rest of your house will be powered by the solar on your roof that day.

Also, your total energy costs will go way down. We ran the numbers grossly for Australia, and if you did that package of electric vehicles, heat pumps, and rooftop solar, you would save the average Australian family about $1,000 to $2,000 a year. So there’s more money in your pocket to enjoy the rest of your life.

I think our failure on fixing climate change is just a rhetorical failure of imagination. We haven’t been able to convince ourselves that it’s going to be great. It’s going to be great.”

“The largest material flows globally are

#1 Dirt: humans move gigatons and gigatons of dirt every year–agriculture

2nd largest material flow we move is CO2

3rd trees, paper, pulp

4th cement, and concrete ½ to 1 ton of cement for every person on the planet every year.

We currently put 50 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Realistic estimates, are we could draw down on at least 3 to as many as 5 gigatons of CO2 a year just by changing the way we make concrete and cement and by managing forestry better.

Those technologies where we are trapping CO2 in physical, solid material that have a long resonance time in our economies is totally sensible. And at the rate of 3 to 5 gigatons a year if we do the other project to decarbonize  in a decade or two as we could, over those two decades if we’re also deploying that carbon sequestration in our material economy you can take out enough to get us close to the 1.5 degrees.”

– Saul Griffith is an inventor, a MacArthur genius fellow, and the founder and CEO of Otherlab, a high-tech research and development company on the frontlines of trying to imagine our clean energy future.

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