Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series

Motivating the Quickest Possible Economic Transition to Low Fossil Fuel Use: Theory and Application



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This research addresses the quickest means of minimizing fossil fuel use and, thus, the existential threat of climate change due to the impact of greenhouse gas accumulation. The apparently simple relationship between fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas accumulation and climate change hides a host of important questions that beg discussion. For example, is climate change a symptom or the ultimate problem? How did we arrive at the current state of affairs? What has to change for the problem not reemerge quickly in another guise? So, before addressing the theoretical and applied means of quickly decreasing fossil fuel use, I address the underlying problem and the way the technological evolution is motivated. My solution acts through the motivations driving technological change. The fix requires legislative teeth and border controls, so must be applied at a country level and must spread through a process of infection. Time permitting, the extension of the solution to greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide will be covered.

Biographical Information

Steve Staloff received his PhD from the University of Oregon in Economics. He taught at the University of Maine and Portland State University, and did theoretical and statistical research at Resources for the Future and Pacific Northwest Laboratories in resource, solar and conservation issues. An insight during research aimed elsewhere led him to study the evolution of decision-making. He concluded that our lineage became the technological species on Earth, adapting to new ecological niches and changing conditions by evolving methods and tools more than bodies. Means of motivation developed, keeping the efforts of experts aligned with the needs and wants of their communities. Modern technologies have widespread and long-lasting impacts on the biosphere, but the means of motivating specialists and informing them of the needs of the community have not adjusted yet. Staloff’s current research, an application using insights from his larger study, points at a way forward.


Power resources -- Environmental aspects, Greenhouse gas mitigation, Fossil fuels -- Economic aspects, Climatic changes -- Social aspects, Fossil fuels -- Government policy


Environmental Studies | Natural Resource Economics | Oil, Gas, and Energy

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Motivating the Quickest Possible Economic Transition to Low Fossil Fuel Use: Theory and Application