Save Energy Survive Tomorrow Essay Contest

James P. Clark

The World Technology Network

James P. Clark, age 47, is currently founding chairman and CEO of the World Technology Network (, a curated global community of over 1,000 of the peer-selected most innovative individuals and organizations in science and technology, elected annually through the World Technology Awards. The most recent Awards were presented at the United Nations at the close of the 2011 World Technology Summit, held in association with TIME magazine, CNN, Fortune, among others, in New York at the TIME Conference Center. The World Technology Summit & Awards is a two-day, global gathering of the WTN membership (primarily winners/finalists from previous World Technology Award cycles), as well as World Technology Award nominees. The WTN has also convened the World Energy Technologies Summit (WETS) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 2004, and another WETS in partnership with TIME at the TIME Conference Center in 2010, as well as other events in cities around the world.

Educated at Wesleyan University (CT.) and Cambridge University (UK), Clark has served in a wide variety of leadership roles across business, politics, technology, academia, and the non-profit sector. A serial entrepreneur, Clark's first venture, a clearinghouse for professional careers in the non-profit sector, was founded at Wesleyan University in the late 1980s, and then green-housed, by invitation, at Harvard University, where Clark was appointed to the faculty. In 1992, Clark next served as Director the Non-Profit Sector & National Service in Little Rock, Arkansas, for then-Governor Bill Clinton's successful Presidential campaign. During the Presidential Transition period after the election, Clark co-developed the Presidential Transition Roundtable Series, bringing experts together to examine key issues, including Northern Ireland, Entrepreneurship, The Politics of Inclusion, and Homelessness. In 1993, he started one of the country's first Internet consulting firms, whose main client was another start-up called AOL, and which was focused on bringing online technology to the non-profit sector. In 1997, he founded the World Technology Network.

Expert's Answer

It would be great if we lived in a world where most major energy, environmental, and political decisions were made based on facts alone and where the facts caused us to make the right decisions every time. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world, but we can try to get closer to that world through actions catalyzed through thoughtful dialogue such as via this Energy For Tomorrow series. The facts: Modern civilization runs on enormous amounts energy, largely carbon-based. And, it is likely to continue to require doing so for decades while we switch over to renewables and/or new as yet-undiscovered energy technologies. Perhaps, too, our rises in consumption will be partially mitigated by rises in energy efficiency. In addition, of course, we have the massive challenge of human-caused climate change and its likely impact on the planet and its ecosystems, not to mention the politicization of that issue. The fact is that we face some daunting facts.

There has been great progress in efficiency and the use of renewables is growing very rapidly (albeit from a very tiny proportional base). Continued economic growth in the most advanced economies as well as those in the developing world (where it has taken billions out of poverty and which imperative cannot be denied to those still in poverty) will continue to fuel the growth in energy consumption in the coming decades. Some estimates state that more than half of the energy used in the world since the start of the industrial revolution has occurred in only the past two decades. By 2050, global energy demand is expected to double or even triple.

Given the economic AND environmental repercussions, the future of energy must encompass several key factors. It must focus on: a dramatic increase in renewable/clean energy consumption; prioritize efficiency; encourage massive capital investments in technological innovation (including in radical and blue-sky concepts); alter the century-old monopoly grid systems and the antiquated policies that perpetuate them; better integrate new sources into the existing energy infrastructure; and, above all else, ensure our environmental policies are neither based on doing nothing or doing just enough to appear to be doing something when its not enough. The future of energy is the future of human civilization. And, the future of energy is ours to determine... with personal and political decisions based on the facts as we know and gather them. Can we face the facts? Can we act in time? The stakes could not possibly be higher.

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“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

There have been three major violent attacks in the United States in the past six weeks. A shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people and injured 546 others attending a music festival. In another attack, in New York City, a man murdered eight people and injured 12 using a rented truck from Home Depot to plow into them. Last Sunday, a man killed 26 and injured 20 people attending Sunday services at a church in a small town in Texas. As humans sharing the world, it is hard to believe how commonplace violence is, whether in the form of a “lone shooter” or as an “act of terrorism.” Instead of feeling the shock and horror we should, we have almost become numb in reaction to these outrageous and revolting events.

As a 17-year-old, I have never known a time in America where there wasn’t violence. I was just 1 year old when the 9/11 attacks happened. I have lived through many acts of violence, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012. That same year, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African- American from Florida, was fatally shot, ironically, by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Whether it’s a mass attack, mass shooting or the killing of one person, the action is violence and the result is the same—death. And we are left asking ourselves, “Why?” What can we do about it?

As teens, we don’t have to feel powerless. There are things we can do. One thing we can do is to raise awareness about religion and racism. Interfaith programs at our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples can help promote goodwill and understanding through diversity. By seeing that we share faith in a higher power and working together for the greater good, we promote understanding. Programs like Harvard University’s The Pluralism Project runs the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition in the St. Paul, Minn., area, where “teens work together to nurture interfaith understanding, reduce prejudice and misunderstanding, and act together on common values through service and justice to transform their worlds. In the process, these young people are empowered to be capable interfaith leaders, both within their own communities and beyond.” This program includes many community-based events like a gardening service as well as leadership workshops for the teens. Having more programs like this one, throughout the United States and the world, will help cultivate more understanding leadership and promote greater understanding among different religions.

Teens can also raise awareness of gun violence. Events such as Seattle, Washington’s “Teens Against Guns Youth Summit,” hosted by the Atlantic Street Center, are a way to bring teens together to actively support the anti-gun movement at a grassroots level. Programs like these can help empower teens to help them realize they can be proactive in ending the cycle of violence.

Another way teens can use their voice to denounce violence and terror is through social media. When she was challenged by another student to prove there were Muslims who condemned violence in the name of Islam, Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old college student at the University of Colorado Boulder, decided to make a list of all the Muslim groups that did. According to a November 2016 Teen Vogue article, “ The result was Worldwide Muslims Condemn List — a spreadsheet with 5,720 instances of Muslim groups and leaders denouncing various acts of terrorism.” Her Twitter account generated 12,000 re-tweets and the list has been made into an interactive website called Her idea led to a resource for anyone to access the information.

Whether coming together in an interfaith group, rallying at an anti-gun youth summit or using social media to create awareness against violence, teens have a voice. Gun violence and terror attacks need to end in my generation. Maybe Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers), said it best: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” We, as teens, need to be those helpers.


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