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Cal Future Forum: Our Changing World

Responding to the global impacts of human activity, UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Lab have long been leaders in the research needed to understand and respond effectively to humanity's global environmental impact. And that research was on display May 12, 2017 at the Cal Future Forum, showcasing developing energy efficiency standards that are now used around the world, developing technologies for making our cities more resilient to droughts and floods, converting sunlight into modern fuels, assessing the impact of the sixth mass extinction, to forecasting future change.

Along with a dozen other researchers, ITS Director and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alexandre Bayen and Transportation Sustainability Research Center co-founder and Energy Resources Group and Public Policy Professor Dan Kammen provided a primer on the state of the planet, the challenges humanity faces, as well as the solutions developed at Berkeley that are being implemented globally.

Bayen raised an interesting question: "Do the mobile apps we use every day can really help us find the fastest route?"

He pointed out that the famous game theory also plays out in the traffic problem. For example, the map apps that are commonly used will lead to people making similar decisions. People will choose the road with no traffic jam, which actually cause unexpected congestion as they all make the same decision.

As a result, he pointed out that traffic planning requires a systematic perspective, incorporating people's decision-making and other corresponding factors.

Kammen addressed the science and policy of sustainable energy, asking the question is there a recipe for mixing policy, organization, equity and engagement to create a “special sauce” for changing economics around the world?

He spoke specifically about how his labs are working towards meeting the Paris Climate Change Agreement, a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. He highlighted innovative energy efforts including renewable energy for transportation, home and industry.

More than ever, California needs to play a proactive role in understanding global impact and finding solutions to ensure a vibrant future and lead the nation —and the world — in developing a clean-energy economy, ameliorating the effects of global change, and promoting green businesses for the future.

The full-day forum also provided a primer on the state of the planet, the challenges humanity faces, as well as the solutions developed at Berkeley that are being implemented globally, such as how to verify climate treaties, the future of carbon sequestration, superdikes to deal with rising sea levels, the future of farming, and the connections among biodiversity loss, human health and social conflict.

The gathering of leading Berkeley scientists, engineers, scholars and policy experts were moderated by prominent radio host, Michael Krasny. The event consisted of short talks, to be distributed as short online videos after the event, interspersed with extensive Q & A with the audience.

The Forum was supported by Tencent Holdings Limited, a leading provider of internet value-added services in China.