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UC Berkeley Holds Cal Future Forum Discussing Global Challenges and Solutions

2017-05-17 13:42

BERKELEY, Calif., May 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Tencent Holdings Limited ("Tencent", SEHK: 00700), a leading provider of internet value-added services in China, supported the Cal Future Forum hosted by the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) on May 12. The support demonstrated Tencent's pledge to humanity as well as advanced scientific and technological development.

Featuring top scientists from UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the full-day Cal Future Forum, which took place on campus, provided a primer on the state of the planet, the challenges humanity faces, as well as the solutions developed at Berkeley that are being implemented globally, such as how to verify climate treaties, the future of carbon sequestration, superdikes to deal with rising sea levels, the future of farming, and the connections among biodiversity loss, human health and social conflict.

Cal Future Forum
Cal Future Forum

"Several years ago, Tencent began more proactively investing in core technologies outside of traditional Internet business areas. We have since been steadily investing in human health related technology companies as part of this broader mandate. As we began to think more about human health, and all threats to human health, we began to think more about ecosystem and planetary health," said David Wallerstein, the Chief Exploration Officer of Tencent, "UC Berkeley has one of the strongest multidisciplinary teams in the natural sciences covering these related areas of any major research university in the world. We've sponsored this event to encourage more awareness and global dialogue regarding the challenges that we all face collectively. We hope that some of the findings or ideas might inspire the next entrepreneur, problem solver, or technologist, but also encourage us all to make better everyday decisions to take the best possible care of our planet, and each other."

David Wallerstein, Chief Exploration Officer of Tencent
David Wallerstein, Chief Exploration Officer of Tencent

Peidong Yang, professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley, introduced his research on artificial photosynthesis. Prof. Yang received the MacArthur "Genius" Award in 2015, and was elected as member of National Academy of Science in May last year.

It is well known that in nature, plants covert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen through photosynthesis. It is a magical process in which plants covert and store external energy. Peidong Yang and his team developed "artificial photosynthesis" to complete the process to convert energy into carbon-based materials and store them.

Ravi Prasher, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies energy storage and distribution, said during his speech that the reason chemical energy is popular is that it can be stored and thus more flexible to use. Therefore, the key for scaling renewable energy lies in solving the storage problem. Parsher said that his work currently focuses on research and development of new materials and new equipment for renewable energy.

Alexandre Bayen, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, raised an interesting question: "Do the mobile apps we use every day can really help us find the fastest route?"

He pointed out that the famous game theory also plays out in the traffic problem. For example, the map apps that are commonly used will lead to people making similar decisions. People will choose the road with no traffic jam, which actually cause unexpected congestion as they all make the same decision.

As a result, he pointed out that traffic planning requires a systematic perspective, incorporating people's decision-making and other corresponding factors.

Bill Collins, professor of earth and planetary science who led an international team that warned of the dangers of increasing carbon dioxide emissions, said that a large number of studies have shown the accumulation effect of carbon dioxide, but their recent studies have provided more critical information on the correlation between carbon dioxide accumulation and greenhouse effect.

For scientists, inspiration sometimes even comes from science fiction. David Sedlak, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering said, in science fictions, "stillsuit" that stores and recycles water can meet its users' need for water, and such concept can be expanded to an entire city to form a water recycling system.

He said that in fact such concept is already being translated to reality. At Orange County in California for example, water recycling has been practiced for 40 years.

Sedlak stressed that he believes water storage is important as it remains the major method for tackling drought, but building on storage, water recycling is more exciting especially for places like drought-ridden California.

Sol Hsiang, climate change researcher at UC Berkeley, published a paper with other academics, which identified a more quantitative measurement of climate change impact on the economy. According to their findings, by 2100, the economic losses caused by climate change to Mexico will be as high as 73% of its GDP, and for the US it will be 36% of the GDP. From a global perspective, there is 63% probability that the economic losses will be as high as 10% of the GDP.

"These figures are only scenario assumptions based on our models. If we do not take action, perhaps the results will be worse in the real world." Hsiang said on the Forum.

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Source: Tencent

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