Thought-provoking material on energy and resources was provided by Alan Terry, Simon Arlidge and James Palmer at the Bristol Branch of the Geographical Association conference for sixth-formers (Jan 30th 2018)
Dr. Simon Arlidge kicked-off proceedings by challenging the audience to think of people as a resource. He presented the predicted numbers for population in 2050 and beyond, by country. There are tough decisions ahead and the balance of ‘power’ will continue to shift. With higher numbers comes more opportunity and ‘chance’ for innovation, but how does one preserve numbers. As population increases slow and demographics shift, serious problems emerge. Policy and ethics were touched upon, some of it uncomfortable material.
Dr. Alan Terry (UWE) focused on the pros and cons of bioenergy, specifically the shift to biomass burning in the UK with large imports from the US. This was set against wider energy mix policy for the UK. Drax power station in North Yorkshire provided an excellent case study focus for debate: What is a sustainable policy? How is it measured?
After a refreshment break and networking opportunity, the audience were introduced to Dr. James Palmer, who has recently started (Jan 2018) as a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Bristol. His work focuses on energy policy and he selected the current controversy associated with Volkswagen carbon dioxide emissions to illustrate how science, geography, truth and ethics are intertwined. Data is required from the field.. in addition to the lab. Controlled experiments and models must be treated with caution. Geographers are well aware of this and are well-placed to advise.