#58 | Fueling sustainable change one fuel at a time, with Twyla Dell

Today, Twyla Dell delights us with a conversation about the history and future of sustainability based on the clean energy transition. Fuel is a core driver of not only human progress, but also of our planet’s resilience. As it turns out, the way we used fuel in the past threatens to burn our world, when there are much brighter options on the horizon. Twyla shares key insights from her book, Fuelling Change, and we talk about the opportunities to collectively enable a Solar Age, where renewable energy feeds the world’s needs. We also turn to the single most impactful thing each individual can make: switching to electric vehicles and clean energy in their homes. If you want to learn more about what “true sustainability” entails and the energy revolution that fuels it, tune in! We promise you’ll enjoy it.

What you’ll learn: 

●      Why switching to clean energy drives the sustainability goals;

●      What key historical decisions have marked the energy transition;

●      How to improve our individual and collective environmental footprint.


00:00 Intro

02:50 Twyla’s background

04:30 Sustainability became a buzzword and what it really is

08:30 About reducing the use of gasoline

10:40 About sun energy

13:55 About addiction to cars

16:34 People don’t understand their contribution to global warming

17:35 About the book “Fuelling Change” and Kansas city history

22:00 About transition from wood to coal and to oil

29:40 About how humans create solutions and turn them into new problems

33:10 About the stages of revolutionary process

35:40 What can we do individually and collectively to reduce CO2 emissions

37:00 About owning a car

41:40 A piece of advice from Twyla Dell

Books & other resources mentioned:

Book: Fuelling change: How We Created Climate Change One Fuel At A Time by Twyla Dell

Quotes of the guest:

What else is renewable if not the sun? We’ve ignored it pretty much and we have sucked the planet dry of all its resources and now we have to go “oh, okay, we have this huge energy force out there; if we are smart enough and willing, we will make it work for us. So, the Solar Age it’s where we go next, that is the renewability, nothing else is renewable, everything is a one-way track from resource to garbage.

You start by stripping out the waste, then you start by making what we use for it more efficient; it’s an evolutionary process. There are four parts of an evolutionary process in my estimation.

There is the stasis point where everything is working together, and this is pretty much where we are. And then the next phase is hybrid.

So we are getting into the hybrid but, for instance, 1.5 million cars versus 253 million cars is not very far into the hybrid phase, right?

And then we’re going to go into the third phase which I call brink, where we have replaced enough of the old kind of services and goods; we get up to the top of the curve, where maybe 45-50% is renewable and then we go down on the curve into the revolution; and in that way we are looking at a new form of life, the way we work, the way we do things.

One piece of advice: 

The biggest thing that we can do, both individually and collectively, to drive sustainability is to change our energy sources, starting with our cars. The automobile industry is a key consumer of oil and gasoline, which in turn produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases that contribute to air pollution and climate change.

There are 253 million of gasoline cars on the road in the United States alone. Each one of them produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide for every pound of gasoline.

Switching to electric cars (or no car, for that matter) is an urgent step forward in the direction of mitigating the effects of climate change, lowering global temperatures, and preventing a collapse of our planet as we know it.

Figure out how to make this change and tell others, too.

  • It is fascinating how Twyla outlines the relationship between human history and the rise of different fuels. The example about breaking down the energy bill into the various energy sources is also really useful. Although it is imperative to reduce our use of fossil fuels, I do not agree entirely the term “clean energy”. This is because of the environmental and social impact of the extraction and processing of the minerals required to take advantage of renewable sources.