National Security

2009 New York Salon

November 14, 2009  • Institute Contributor

21st Century Energy – Can it be Clean, Secure, and Affordable, Or Must We Choose?
The way we produce and use energy — principally but not exclusively for the generation of electricity and for transportation — is at the nexus of three major sets of issues that confront us and future generations.  First, can we produce energy cleanly? And in these days that includes not only traditional ecological concerns about air quality and the like but also the question of CO2 emissions and climate change.  Second, can we produce it securely?  Our security is affected not only by the foreign sources of oil and the possibility of oil cut-offs or terrorist attacks on the oil infrastructure but also by the fragile nature of our electricity grid — vulnerable both to tree branches touching power lines and to intentional cyber- or physical attack.  And third, energy’s affordability affects not only our own prosperity but particularly the prospects for economic development in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America — can African villagers count on expensive imported oil and huge power projects to supply them with the energy they need? In the midst of these uncertainties governments seem frozen into repeating what they have done in the past, and three giant industries — oil, electricity, and automotive — generally plod forward implementing their 19th-century business plans. Yet the circumstances in which we find ourselves would not seem to warrant relaxed confidence that little needs to change. In this seminar we will address the key challenges and opportunities of producing reliable, cost-effective, clean and secure energy. How will climate change affect energy resources? What are the risks imposed by war and terrorism? What are our national and global energy alternatives, and do those interests conflict?
Moderator: R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence 

Preceding the seminar at the Core Club in midtown Manhattan on November 14, a reception was held in Tribeca on November 13.