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Fueling the Future: The Cost of Oil Dependence and the Prospects for Alternatives


Recent increases in oil prices illustrate the world’s dependence on oil supplies from countries with unstable or oppressive governments. Severin Borenstein discusses the long-term implications of the developed world’s reliance on imports from the Middle East and Russia. Daniel Kammen will follow with a survey of renewable energy technologies — solar, wind, and biomass — that have undergone dramatic improvements over the past decade and are now poised to compete directly with the existing fossil fuel-based energy technologies.


Severin Borenstein

Borenstein is E.T. Grether Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Haas School of Business, director of the University of California Energy Institute, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA. He is also an affiliated professor in the agricultural and resource economics department and the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. He received his B.A. from Berkeley in 1978 and Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 1983. His research focuses on business competition, strategy, and regulation.

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Dan Kammen

Kammen is a professor in Berkeley’s  Energy and Resources Group, a professor of public policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy, and a professor of nuclear engineering in the department of nuclear engineering. His research combines environmental science, risk analysis, design and development of clean energy technologies and systems, and economic and policy analysis of science and technology, energy futures, and international development. His work impacts policy in the U.S. and abroad, charting viable pathways to social and environmental sustainability. Kammen advises the U.S.

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Robert J. Birgeneau

Birgeneau, an internationally distinguished physicist, served as the ninth chancellor of UC Berkeley from 2004–13. Well known for his commitment to diversity and equity, he successfully advanced a vision of “Access and Excellence.” Prior to Berkeley, he was president of the University of Toronto for four years and on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 25 years. He is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and other scholarly societies.

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