THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE

THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE

by Guest Publisher Bill Ritter

In December, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the conference in Paris where nearly 200 nations agreed to confront global climate change and by implication to change how we all produce and use energy. It was the first time in history that so many nations agreed on so complex a task.

Yet as the gavel came down on this achievement and as delegates and leaders from around the world celebrated the moment, I knew that the real work of confronting our climate and energy challenges must be accomplished in places like Colorado State University. Every breakthrough in clean energy, every new frontier we open to sustainable development, and every young person we equip with the inspiration and tools to build a more secure future moves us closer to achieving the promise of the Paris Agreement.

The need to transform the world’s energy economy is one of several contemporary challenges that are global in scope. There has never been a time when the people
of the world are so connected as we are today. One nation’s economic failure, or pandemic, or energy crisis, or atmospheric pollution affects every other nation. Where our footprints once were mostly local, they now make an impression worldwide. There is a vast difference of scale between an environmental crisis like a river catching re in Cleveland in 1952 and the weather traumas we are experiencing around the world today as a result of anthropogenic climate change.
Because the challenges are global, so is the need for solutions. The United States has always led the world in technological advances, but not with the urgency required today. The world must transition to clean energy more rapidly than any previous energy shift in the history of the industrial world. On that front and on many others, the future is being shaped in laboratories and classrooms, including those at Colorado State University. The potential impact of our work gives us reason for excitement and hope.

This issue of Outcomes puts the spotlight on some of the people and programs engaged at CSU in the clean energy revolution. The revolutionaries are at work in CSU’s Rural Energy Center; the Partnership for Air Quality, Climate and Health; the Innovation Center for Sustainable Agriculture; the Smart Village Microgrids Team, the Energy Institute; the Center for the New Energy Economy
and many other enterprises on topics as wide-ranging as methane leaks, wild res, food production, small-scale power systems, smarter electric grids and even earthquakes induced by the extraction of fossil fuels.

At CSU, our innovators, our visionaries, are not confined today to the stage that previous generations set or to the script they wrote. We are building the stage anew. To paraphrase Buckminster Fuller, our job is to be the architects of our future rather than its victims. Each issue of Outcomes reminds us that in our many separate rooms, roles, programs and offices, we are not alone in these endeavors. We at Colorado State University are making an impact on both the present and the future, just as a great land-grant university should do.

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