The world will be run out of conventional and affordable fossil fuels in the 21st century and will need alternative energy sources that are clean and renewable. Without cheap energy, the industrial operations and the quality of life will deteriorate. It may also create new conflicts between regions and among countries. We need to develop new technologies and policies that will assure the supply of low cost energy from alternative sources and avoid the precipitation of these conflicts. It is essential to develop the key technologies and also design an optimal energy portfolio plan with an appropriate transition policy.
The world is facing serous environmental problems that will vastly change the climate of the globe and degrade the quality of human life. Global warming, which is a one facet of the problems, will requires a major concerted effort to minimize its adverse effects through the collaboration of many nations and many institutions. There are scattered efforts in many institutions to solve environmental problems, but there are many outstanding challenges and opportunities in realizing the ideas proposed and pursued, i.e., sequestration of CO2, creation of non-polluting cars, new mega-city designs, restoration of the forest in tropical areas, desalination of seawater and brackish water through conventional processes, and many others.
The lack of portable and agricultural water will be as serious as, if not more serious than, the lack of energy. Lack of has become a major problem in many parts of the world. One solution is desalination, since 97% of the earth's water is in the ocean. We need to develop new technologies that can desalinate the seawater or brackish water without excess use of energy. We need better technologies that can remove NaCl than the current technologies that depend on evaporation, reverse osmosis, or other energy intensive technologies.
Current human lifestyle and the use of natural resources cannot be sustained as more countries continue to develop. If China and India attain the living standards of the advanced nations, the world will implode due the resource shortage. We need new technologies of manufacturing, new alternate materials, a new lifestyle that minimize the consumption of natural resources, and new public policies. There are some scattered efforts in many countries to deal with these problem, but they are too limited to provide a comprehensive solution