Dr. Scott W. Tinker
Director, Bureau of Economic Geology
A Truly Clean Global Energy Transition
The energy dialog varies widely. The economically developed world led by Western Europe and the United States want clean energy, myopically focused on low carbon emissions. Some propose to eliminate coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear altogether and replace them with solar, wind and batteries. By contrast, developing economies like Central and South America, and parts of Asia have a growing energy appetite that requires reliable and accessible energy. Coal and oil are still prominent but natural gas, hydro and nuclear will play a greater role. Finally, emerging economies like Africa and parts of SE Asia need energy to be cheap. They are building with coal and oil, just as the developed world did. Although the environmental concerns of the emerging and developing world include climate, they are more broadly focused on reducing impacts on water, soil, and air, all of which affect the health and safety of billions of citizens today. These global economic and political differences underpin the reality of the complex array of regional energy transitions underway globally. It is against this backdrop that carbon reduction and broader environmental strategies must be realistically set. Environmental improvement options include natural gas replacing coal, efficiency, hydro, nuclear, CCUS, hydrogen and geothermal. The subsurface oil and gas industry, and geoscientists in particular, are well positioned technologically and geopolitically to accelerate many of these technologies.
Profile: Scott Tinker works to bring industry, government, academia, and nongovernmental organizations together to address major societal challenges in energy, the environment, and the economy. Dr. Tinker is Director of the 250-person Bureau of Economic Geology, the State Geologist of Texas, and a professor holding the Edwin Allday Endowed Chair in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. With Director Harry Lynch, Tinker coproduced and is featured in the award-winning energy documentary film Switch, which has been screened in over 50 countries to more than 15 million viewers and is used on thousands of K-through-12 and college campuses. Dr. Tinker formed the nonprofit Switch Energy Alliance in 2016 and has completed two new films: Switch On, a feature length documentary addressing global energy poverty, and Energy Makes our World, a five-minute, Hollywood-quality film made for global museums and giant screens. Tinker is the voice of EarthDate, a two-minute weekly program that focuses on remarkable stories of Earth. EarthDate is produced by the Bureau of Economic Geology and is featured on over 400 NPR and public radio stations in all 50 United States. Dr. Tinker has served as president of several associations, including the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), and the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS). Dr. Tinker is an AGI Campbell Medalist, AAPG Halbouty Medalist, GCAGS Boyd Medalist, and a Geological Society of America Fellow. In his visits to some 60 countries, he has given over 900 keynote and invited lectures.