One of the most interesting things for me at today’s New York Times conference on the future of energy was a comment that U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu made.
Thomas Friedman asked Secretary Chu what he would want to work on if he were just coming out of school today, a freshly minted Ph.D. Rather than choose a particular scientific or technological focus, his choice was “systems.” He cited the Toyota Prius as innovative system created from existing technologies.
That’s a pretty interesting answer.
Systems thinking is the key to unraveling some of our toughest challenges, particularly those related to energy and environmental sustainability. Everyone from scientists and technologists to individuals to corporate managers to policy makers ought to beef up their systems thinking skills.
The other interesting thing was a brief, low-key but mind-blowing presentation by Mitja Hinderks in which he explained how his little organization is going to cut global CO2 emissions by 25% with an innovative new design for an uncooled internal combustion engine that, compared to today’s engines, will have a fraction of the parts, a multiple of the efficiency, and could be swapped in and out of vehicles like a cartridge.