Student Infographic Contest Paints Bright Picture of Youth Concern on Energy and Climate

June, 2013
National Geographic

energy infographic

Infographic Competition to Answer: By the year 2050, the earth’s population is expected to exceed nine billion people and the demand for energy is expected to triple. What does the global energy mix look like in the year 2050?


Recently I was asked to serve as a judge for the Shell Student Energy Challenge, an infographic competition that was part of the student fuel-efficiency contest, Shell Eco-marathon. Shell sponsors National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge initiative.

This provided a fascinating opportunity to evaluate what many of us feel: that we must begin by not only communicating better the risks of neglecting the planet, but also by highlighting the antidotes to our current miserable record of planetary care.

If we are not doing this, who will?  Well, the segment of the population we all point to as the one most likely both to care and to take action is well on its way,  the competition  amply proved. That group is secondary school and college-age kids and young adults.  (As I often sadly say, this group is also most likely to bring a class-action lawsuit against those of us older than 50. We really have no defense to the contention that we  had and have sufficient data on how damaging our life-style has become, and we also have ample data on the many opportunities to change things for the better, but to date, have not done so.  That, however, is the subject for another note.)

Shell Eco-marathon is a global mileage challenge and forum for current and future leaders who are working to find smarter solutions to the world’s energy challenge. Student teams compete to design, build, and drive the most energy-efficient vehicle possible.

I have had the opportunity to read a great many entries from high schools and colleges in the United States and Canada, who competed in the Americas division of the competition, and from students in the separate Europe Shell Student Energy Challenge  In a single poster, students were asked to describe visually and in text and words our current situation and how we can address this crisis.  More specifically, the question posed to these students was:

 

By the year 2050, the earth’s population is expected to exceed nine billion people and the demand for energy is expected to triple. What does the global energy mix look like in the year 2050?

 

The best entries are truly inspiring, and short of critiquing each (a very “over 50″ thing to do), I’ll start by just sharing a few. I don’t agree with all of their assessments (more on that later), but want to highlight those that really caught my eye.