Episode 211: Connecting the Energy Transition to Societal Engagement

“How do we move towards a greater societal understanding of what’s required to achieve the goals of decarbonization? Building a sustainable society requires everybody, all the citizens, to do a whole bunch of different things, many of which are minor.”

Murray W. Hitzman, the Director of iCRAG, highlights the energy transition and how to communicate it with the public.

iCRAG is the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre in Applied Geosciences hosted by University College Dublin. In this episode, we explore Ireland’s energy and sustainability challenges. With Ireland’s advantageous position for harnessing wind and solar power, as well as the untapped potential of geothermal energy, Murray provides a portrait of a country that’s not only capable of making significant strides in sustainability but is also a microcosm for global change.

Murray shares his journey as an economic geologist and how it has shaped his vision for iCRAG’s three grand challenges: Earth system change, Earth resources, and Earth science in society. Listeners will discover the connections between energy transition, critical raw materials, and societal engagement necessary to build a sustainable future.

Murray explains why clear communication between scientists and citizens is the key to sustainability. We also explore the critical roles of metals like zinc, copper, and cobalt in green technology. 

This conversation is a powerful reminder that sustainability is a multifaceted issue that requires collaboration, innovation, and a willingness to embrace new challenges. As Murray puts it, discovery is at the heart of his journey – continuing to uncover how we can better interact with our planet.

Seismic Soundoff · 211: Connecting the Energy Transition to Societal Engagement

Episode Highlights

  • 2:54 – iCRAG focuses on the energy transition and communicating with the public
  • 7:34 – Why Ireland is a particularly good place to study how science and society interact
  • 9:14 – The common misconception people have about a sustainable future
  • 10:11 – Geoscientists are key players in the green energy transition
  • 12:23 – The significance of the warmest year in recorded history
  • 13:33 – The reach and work of iCRAG
  • 18:26 – Does something now motivate you differently than it did in your twenties?

Episode Links

Guest Bio

Murray W. Hitzman is the Director of iCRAG and a Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor. Murray has a B.A. in geology and anthropology from Dartmouth College (1976), an M.S. in geology from the University of Washington (1978), and a Ph.D. in geology from Stanford University (1983). He worked in the petroleum and minerals industries from 1976 to 1993, primarily doing mineral exploration worldwide, and was largely responsible for Chevron Corporationʼs Lisheen Zn- Pb-Ag deposit discovery in Ireland (1990). Dr. Hitzman served in Washington, D.C., as a policy analyst in the U.S. Senate for Senator Joseph Lieberman (1993-94) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1994-96). In 1996, he was named the Fogarty Professor in Economic Geology at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and was head of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering from 2002-07. 

His economic geology research at CSM focused on the Central African Copperbelt. In 2016, he joined the U.S. Geological Survey as the Associate Director for Energy and Minerals and served until late December 2017. He served as the President of the Society of Economic Geologists in 2006. He has previously served on the boards of several junior mineral exploration and mining companies. 

He was awarded the SEG Silver Medal in 1999, the Daniel C. Jackling Award by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, the Des Pretorius Award by the Geological Society of South Africa in 2015, and the Haddon Forrester King Medal by the Australian Academy of Sciences in 2016.

Show Credits

Seismic Soundoff showcases conversations with geoscientists addressing the challenges of energy, water, and climate.

SEG creates these episodes to celebrate and inspire the geophysicists of today and tomorrow.

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This episode was hosted, edited, and produced by Andrew Geary at TreasureMint. The SEG podcast team is composed of Jennifer Cobb, Kathy Gamble, and Ally McGinnis. 

Transcription and episode summary support provided by Headliner.

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