Leeds Metropolitan University

Politics & Applied Global Ethics Seminar Series 2012/13

Can we achieve food and energy sustainability

for a global population of 9 billion people?

Steve Mckevitt

On Wednesday 1 May   1430-1600

At Leeds Met University’s Rose Bowl  (adjacent to the Civic Hall)

In Room 515

All welcome


Further details:

The world is as the beginning of an energy crisis. In 2011, the global economy used 17TW of energy: all the projections for future consumption predict that this figure will rise to around 28TW by 2050. This increase in output will have to be achieved in the face of depleting stocks of fossil fuel, water, land and other natural resources against a backdrop of climate change.

There is a widely held misconception, among politicians and the general public alike, that addressing these problems is exclusively the domain of science and engineering. That is simply not true. Technological solutions to all the challenges of food and energy security largely exist today. There is no major breakthrough waiting to happen, nor is one necessarily required.

Historically, energy transitions take 35-50 years to happen. There’s no reason to believe that the move we must make to a post-carbon economy is going to be any quicker, and a great deal to suggest that it will take much longer. That means to address the problem by 2050, we need to be producing 28TW of electricity using current technology.

While the solutions may be achievable in principle, in practice it will require a “political and economic effort comparable to The Manhattan Project or the Apollo Program”.

Steve McKevitt argues that the key obstacles to achieving global food and energy sustainability are not technical and scientific, but in fact economic and political. He will also discuss the reasons this message is so difficult to get across in the mainstream media, explain why there is widespread ignorance of this problem – both blissful and willful – and argue that the biggest challenge of all is overcoming our complacency.


Steve McKevitt is an expert in communications and consumerism. Over a 25-year career his clients have included Nike, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, Sony PlayStation, Harvey Nichols, Motorola, Universal, NBC, Virgin, BT and Atari. Steve is chairman of Golden, an ideas agency with clients in the UK, Europe and the USA, and also works as an advisor to the UK government on employment, skills, business innovation and international trade.

He has written for many newspapers around the world – from The Guardian to The Kenya Nation – and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Steve is the author of Everything Now, Why the World Is Full of Useless Things andCity Slackers.

His most recent book, with Tony Ryan, is Project Sunshine: How the Sun Can Help Science to Fuel and Feed the World (2013) which makes the scientific, economic and political case for a return to a solar economy.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Project-Sunshine-science-world-ebook/dp/B00B1B1VAU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1363948832&sr=8-2


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