AMES Panel: Global Population and the Challenges Ahead- Teacher Resource Guide

With Dr. Bradley Layton, Arnold Sherman, and Robert Seidenschwartz.

0:00- introduction of Dr. Layton… 2:30- introduction of Arnie Sherman… 4:30… overview of discussion… 7:00- Arnie on global megacities, and population growth… 10:00- Arnie on pollution and air quality in China… 12:00- Discussion about Montana coal exports to China… 13:45- effects of urban migration… 16:00- why are people moving to urban centers? Discussion about Chinese middle class and command economies… 18:00- Discussion about AMES energy conference… 19:15- general questions from classrooms about Chinese life… 22:30- Chinese exchange student and Arnie discuss life in Montana and China… 25:15- Dr. Layton on bicycle transit… 30:25- Alternative energy and the transportation of the future… 32:50- story about Craig Thomas and the wood-fire filter; innovation in emissions technology… 37:45- Why aren’t there carbon scrubbers in China’s coal factories?… 39:40- Who owns the factories in China?… 40:30- Nuclear energy discussion… 42:45- Where does most of the pollution in China comes from?… 45:30- Mao and Chinese cultural unrest in the past… 48:20- what will it take to change America’s attitude towards bicycles?…50:00- trade-off between the environment and economic growth… 50:50- why don’t we use more alternative energy sources?…

Megacities and Pollution

The rush to major city centers over the course of the last century has been rapid, and countries are struggling to cope.  Some, like China, build massive megacities in the hopes of urbanizing more of their population and fueling greater economic growth, but this urbanization comes at cost.  Air quality in many of these global megacities is horrendous, and we are still grappling with the environmental costs of having so many people packed so densely into city centers.

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“Megacities, not nations, are the world’s dominant, enduring social structures:
Cities are mankind’s most enduring and stable mode of social organization, outlasting all empires and nations over which they have presided. Today cities have become the world’s dominant demographic and economic clusters…

It is not population or territorial size that drives world-city status, but economic weight, proximity to zones of growth, political stability, and attractiveness for foreign capital. In other words, connectivity matters more than size. Cities thus deserve more nuanced treatment on our maps than simply as homogeneous black dots.”
-Parag Kannah, via Quartz

Discussion Questions

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in urban, suburban, and rural areas?

What do you think cities of the future will look like? Will technological advancement make the megacity a sustainable model?

Can you think of any megacities in the United States? When do major, connected cosmopolitan areas (like much of the central East Coast) become “megacities” in their own right?

Additional Resources

NASA Megacities Project

The World’s Fastest Growing Megacities (Forbes)

Megacities of the World: a glimpse of how we’ll live tomorrow (Christian Science Monitor)

List of the World’s Megacities (Demographia)

Megacities’ explosive growth poses Epic Challenges (CNBC)



Urbanization, Poverty, and the rise of the Global Middle Class

Coinciding with the rise of global megacities we have seen a remarkable period of progress, with nearly one billion people rising above the global poverty line ($1.25 USD per day) in the last two decades.  Many global economic, political, and technological forces coincided to produce what amounts to a humanitarian miracle, but there is still much work to be done.  Connectivity and proximity to resources allows us to make the most out of our potentials, but the challenges created by global urbanization should not be understated.

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Where we stand:
Extreme poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 1990. While this is a remarkable achievement, one in five people in developing regions still live on less than $1.25 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount, plus many people risk slipping back into poverty.

Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.
-Via UN Sustainable Development Goals

Discussion Questions

What can developed nations do to help developing nations enter the global economy in a way that is sustainable and equitable?

Can you imagine trying to get by on $1.25 a day? What basic services do you take for granted that would be inaccessible to you if you lived in extreme poverty?

Should all human beings have the right to clean water, shelter, and nutritious food?

Does taking the time to recognize and congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made distract from the push for future progress?

Additional Resources

No Poverty: Why it matters (UN)

Poverty and Urbanization (The Joint Urban Studies Center)

Poverty is Urbanizing (The Guardian)

Poverty and Urbanization (The World Bank)



Innovation and the Future of Energy Consumption

The world is changing. That might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s hard to recognize at any given point in time how massive the changes made over the course of the last few centuries have been. These technological, social, and economic advancements have created opportunities for the impoverished, allowed us to explore the far reaches of our world and our universe, and sustained a population of more than 7 billion human beings on this Earth. But, as we evolve and make life more comfortable for ourselves, we are rapidly changing the conditions on this little planet we call home. What should, can, and must be done in order to allow human beings to create a more just, sustainable society?

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How will the experiment end?
“For generations, we have assumed that the efforts of mankind would leave the fundamental equilibrium of the world’s systems and atmosphere stable. But it is possible that with all these enormous changes – population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels – concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself.”
-Margaret Thatcher(From “Can the World Economy Survive without Fossil Fuels”- The Guardian)

Discussion Questions

To what capacity do we need fossil fuels going forward? Is cheap energy worth irrevocably changing the climate? On the other hand, should we focus on improving the quality of life for the world’s poor using fossil fuels, despite the possible long term consequences?

What do you imagine the energy source of the future to be? Will one type of renewable energy win out over the rest, or will we use many resources in concert?

To what degree are past generations responsible for the issues we face today? To what degree should our generations be held accountable for the mistakes we are making today?

Additional Resources

Today in Energy (US Energy Information Administration)

Energy in 25 Years: Who’s producing, who’s buying (CNBC)

What is our Energy Future? (Forbes)


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Montana World Affairs Council to Award in Student Energy Competition

The Montana World Affairs Council is excited to announce the winners of our Energy Leaders for Tomorrow essay and picture contest.  Montana students in grades K-12 were invited to submit an essay or picture describing energy and its role in their life.

The Montana World Affairs Council hosted an Energy Scholarship Contest in conjunction with the Mansfield Center’s 2015 conference, the Asia Montana Energy Summit (AMES), to involve Montana statewide K-12 students in the Energy discussion.

The Council and AMES are excited to help build awareness in classrooms around the state to help Montana students develop a deeper understanding of the complex issues surrounding energy and its sources. Energy resources are an integral component of the Montana economy and along with the prevalence of resources; there is contention as to proper use and development.

Grades K-5 were asked to create a depiction of what energy resources in Montana means to them. The winners in are: 1st place Nathan Hoffman in 5th grade from Glendive, 2nd place Matt Yakawich in 4th grade from Missoula, and 3rd place Lucy Haggerty in 2nd grade from Bozeman.

Grades 6-12 were asked what the most important energy sector is in Montana’s economic future and why. The winners in are 1st place Ben Yakawich in 10th grade from Missoula, 2nd place Justin Martinell in 8th grade from Lima, and 3rd place Emilie Schroder in 12th grade from Lima.

All of the winners will be recognized at a reception with Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean on Wednesday, 29 April at SpectrUM as part of the Asia Montana Energy Summit. Participants in the competition will attend the reception and be recognized as well.

The Reception is co-sponsored by The Mansfield Center and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Helena Branch.

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Human Power vs. Horsepower: the future of sustainable transportation- Teacher Resource Page

with Dr. Bradley Layton

2:15- Introduction: “unless you can measure something, unless you can talk about it in numbers, you really don’t know what you’re talking about…” 4:30- Personal introduction… 9:10- Human powered water and aircraft at MIT… 11:15- Discussion about different modes of transportation… 13:00- Human vs. horse power introduction… 15:45- Calories, Joules, and measurements of power energy… 21:00- How many joules do you need per day?… 27:00- Energy vs. power… 28:10- What is a Watt?… 30:50- How much power do you have?… 36:30- Conversion of Watts into horsepower… 38:00- Human vs. horse power conclusion… 40:00- Renewable energy projects at the University of Montana… 41:30- Overview of larger program/ homework for students… 45:00- Question & answer…

Human Powered Vehicles

Human powered vehicles, or HPVs, are vehicles that rely entirely on power supplied by human muscles for propulsion. The most common type (and largest subgroup) of HPV are bicycles, but there are many different types of HPVs; some can fly through the air or traverse water, and other groups of land-roving HPVs offer better postures, more protection from the elements, or have other advantages compared to standard bicycles. Mechanical engineers are working, in competitions and elsewhere, to create the best design for various types of human powered vehicles. Though many vehicles are built for hobby, or only with speed in mind, others see HPVs as an opportunity to create a more sustainable future. According to HPV enthusiast and entrepreneur Cameron van Dyke, “It is about questioning our country’s energy use, health, safety, and access to travel. … My hope is to get people to imagine new possibilities for the way we travel.”

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Not Just a Weird Hobby
Although much of the internet chatter around HPVs focuses on which incredibly uncomfortable machine can travel the fastest, engineers like Mark Archibald have more practical ideas in mind: “In developed countries, those types of vehicles, along with more conventional bicycles, can be used to relieve traffic congestion, improve public health, reduce air pollution and significantly lower transportation costs. In developing countries, human-powered vehicles can provide affordable basic transportation for personal transport, deliveries and even ambulance services… [HPVs] are affordable, clean and safe. They are faster and more comfortable than standard bicycles, and many offer protection from foul weather.”
-Via LiveScience.

Discussion Questions

From bikes to kayaks, human powered vehicles are everywhere. How many human powered vehicles have you used? Do you use any regularly?

What are some benefits of human powered transportation? What are some limitations? How might human powered transit be different in a city than it would be on the country side/suburbs?

Do you think human powered transportation will become more or less popular and widespread in the future? Why?

How can human power be augmented to create a more sustainable future, while maintaining convenience?

Additional Resources

“The World’s Fastest Human Powered Vehicle” (engadget.com)

“9 Unusual Human Powered Contraptions” (Popular Mechanics)

“The Future People Push the Boundaries of Human Powered Transport” (gizmag.com)

Quattrocycle familiefiets (YouTube)


Human vs. Horse Power: how do we measure power?

Much of Dr. Layton’s talk is focused on the ideas of energy and power, and more specifically, how much energy and power we consume and expend in a day. To do this, he breaks down the mathematics of “human power” and compares it to a metric we are all familiar with: horse power. In the talk, there is a lot of discussion about unit conversion and the order of operations needed to calculate a human’s energy and power use. In his calculation, he finds that eight humans can produce a bit more than a horsepower of energy. So, in theory, a group of eight average humans could beat one average horse in a game of tug of war (although it doesn’t always work that way in practice). Click below for a more detailed look at the math behind that calculation, and additional resources with help with unit conversion.

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Relevant Units:
1 cal= 4.184 J   1 Kcal= 4.184 kJ
1 W= 1 J/s   1 kW=1 kJ/s

Humans Power:
~2,500 Kcal/day= 10,500 kJ/day
10,500 kJ/day= .122 kJ/s
.122 kJ/s= .122 kW= 122 W

Horse Power vs Human Power:
1 horsepower= 746 W
1 “humanpower”= 122 W
122 W/person x 8 people= 976 W
8 “humanpower”> 1 horsepower

Discussion Questions

A human can produce roughly 1/8th of a horsepower. Does this number surprise you? Did you expect it to be higher or lower?

Does the knowledge of the amount of power that humans can produce change your perception of human powered vehicles? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Unit Conversion within the Metric System (Kahn Academy)

The Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on Horsepower

Forum on Horsepower vs. Man Power (The Popular Machinist)

Human Powered Crane (YouTube)


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