Multimedia

April 26, 2021
Episode #2 Zainab Usman: What Does Net-Zero Mean for Africans?
By Zainab Usman, Katie Auth, Rose Mutiso

The new director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Africa Program on why resource curse thinking is wrong, politics is integral to policy & we should stop saying “leapfrogging.”

Zainab Usman is the inaugural Director of the Africa Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Previously she was Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank where she worked on the governance and institutions of natural resources management, energy sector reforms, service delivery as well as south-south economic relations. Zainab has worked on policy reforms and social sustainability in Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Congo, Serbia, Tanzania, and Uzbekistan. Zainab is co-author of the book, The Future of Work in Africa: Harnessing the Potential of Digital Technologies for All. She also contributed to World Bank’s flagship report on Rethinking Power Sector Reforms in Developing Countries. Zainab has also published book chapters and research papers on energy sector reforms more broadly. Her written and broadcast commentary has appeared in Al-Jazeera English, African Arguments, CNN and The Washington Post, among others. Zainab received her DPhil (PhD) from the University of Oxford, successfully defending her doctoral thesis titled, The Political Economy of Economic Diversification in Nigeria. She currently sits on the board of Premium Times in Nigeria.


Show Notes


Transcript

START (HIGH_ENERGY_PLANET_ZAINAB_USMAN_REVISED.MP3)

 

[MUSIC]

 

KATIE:  I’m Katie Auth in Washington…

 

ROSE:  …and I’m Rose Mutiso in London, and this is High Energy Planet, the podcast from the Energy for Growth Hub about new ideas to solve global energy poverty.

 

KATIE:  On today’s show, a new leading voice from Africa on the intersection of policy, politics, and energy.  We talked with Zainab Usman, a young Oxford-trained Nigerian who’s just left the World Bank to become the first director of the New Africa Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

 

ROSE:  We’ll ask Zainab what frustrates her about how the West views Africa, how she sees the geopolitics of decarbonization, and how more African women can get involved in climate and energy policy.

 

KATIE:  Then later Rose and I get Amped Up about our current obsessions about energy and development.  Rose, get ready to hear my fixation on what Biden’s infrastructure plan say about Africa.

 

ROSE:  And I’m going to go off about, you guessed it, that massive boat that got stuck in the Suez Canal.  All that coming up on this episode of High Energy Planet.

 

ROSE:  Zainab Usman welcome to High Energy Planet.  So great to have you.

 

ZAINAB:  Great to be here.  Thank you for inviting me.

 

ROSE:  So Zainab, you are an exceptional human.  You’re only in your thirties, started off in northern Nigeria, and kind of somehow ended up running a major Africa research program by way of a PhD at Oxford.  Please could you just kind of help fill in the dots for us–how did you get from point A to B and a little bit of the why.

 

ZAINAB:  Yeah, so again, thank you for having me, and I’m glad you ladies are hosting this podcast.  This is going to be a refreshing addition to a landscape that produces good work, but that is sorely lacking in female voices.  So very happy to be here.  Yeah, so I’m originally from Nigeria, from northern Nigeria.  And, you know, I’m specifying the northern part because Nigeria is a huge, diverse, and complex country with important regional differentiations, just like the United States, where you have the West Coast, people from California, people from New York and the East Coast, people from the Deep South, but they all make up America, right?  So it’s the same thing with Nigeria.  So I was born and raised there.  I started off studying international relations, and then I moved to the U.K. over a decade ago for grad school.  There I shifted towards economics – from IR to economics.  So for my doctorate at the University of Oxford I focused on the political economy of economic diversification in resource-rich countries in Africa, with a specific focus on Nigeria.  And really for me I imagine many of the citizens of resource-rich countries – there’s a question that I wanted to examine, was, “Why is my country so rich on paper but then so poor in reality?  Why have these resources not translated into economic prosperity for all?  When attempts have been made to achieve economic development from these resources, why have they not succeeded?  And what role does politics play?”

 

ROSE:  This is super fascinating, and I don’t think there is a single African out there who does not ask themselves that question about that disparity.  And so how – do you feel that this academic route, this kind of think both through your academic research at Oxford and now this kind of hybrid think-tank role that you’ve had with (inaudible) bank, and now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is this really giving you the kind of platform that you think can help you move the needle on those questions?  Why and how?

 

ZAINAB:  Yeah, absolutely.  So before I get to that question directly, having investigated or having tried to understand these questions that I had posed on the management of natural resources in countries like Nigeria and other parts of Africa…  You know, I completed my PhD, produced book chapter out of that, a journal article as well, and then a book which is going to be published at the end of this year or probably early 2022…

 

ROSE:  That’s amazing.  Congratulations.

 

ZAINAB:  [LAUGHTER] Thank you very much.  It’s still a work in progress.  But yeah, you know, the manuscript is done, it’s with the publisher, so yeah, now we’re just working on, you know, the logistics and all of that.  And for me really a key aspect of my work at the time–and, you know, there’s elements of it right now–is there was an elemental (fit) that critiqued the mainstream explanation for why countries with natural resources have struggled to achieve economic development, particularly the so-called “resource curse theories,” which I have critiqued extensively in some of the publications that have already come out.  Because I do believe that they are deterministic, they assume that countries that are rich in these resources are locked on this certain path of economic and political malaise, and then they are completely a-historical.  You know, countries like the United States, like Canada, like Australia, like Norway, are all resource-rich countries.  You know, in the United States there was a gold rush in California in the 19th Century.  In Canada there was a Yukon gold rush as well.  Australia has at least – a third of its exports comprised of mineral exports or mineral resources.  So this is completely a-historical to just narrow down on – zoom in on one thing as the approximation of all of the challenges of economic development in resource-rich countries, particularly in Africa.

 

ROSE:  Zainab, this is all so interesting and we’ll be delving into some of these angles a little bit deeper in the podcast.  But I just would like to say that I will start the petition–I want to hear you talk about this on the Ted stage or elsewhere.  I love this kind of critique of the resource cruse and deterministic narratives about Africa and how we engage with our resources.  I feel really inspired and, you know, really looking forward to the rest of the conversation.

 

KATIE:  Yeah.  And actually if we can stay on this topic for a second…  Because one of the things we were really interested about when we thought about your pathway is that, you know, you spent all this time at the Bank, and institutions like the World Bank, or at least the stereotypical vision that we have of their approach, is that they start with kind of an end goal for what a perfect policy framework looks like.  You mentioned the Washington consensus.  There are these big statements about what the end goal should be.  And then in many ways, like, the particular political dynamics in a country are seen as obstacles to getting to that perfection.  And it seems like, you know, in many ways you come at it from a different angle, and you think about the politics first, not as a barrier but as a – you know, an elemental factor in how you should approach these things.  Why do you see that as important and kind of was that an area of tension when you were at the Bank?

 

ZAINAB:  I’m not going to say too much on that [LAUGHTER].  I’m still kind of processing it.  And I think overall I would say that it gave me an opportunity to really understand how global development [quote, unquote] “works,” how, you know, the architecture itself is set up, what works and what doesn’t, and why things that do not work actually end up failing.  So – and also perhaps because of my – I would say my experience in a sense was kind of unique because I was able to do so much in just the slightly over four years that I was there.  I worked in a vast number of countries.  I worked in, like, three different departments.  And so I was able to see so much, and then to really understand why is it that certain things – or a lot of things actually don’t pan out as intended.  But then back to your specific question about the interaction between politics and policy, I think it’s rather unfortunate that in the recent past, which is the last two to three decades, this notion that economic policy is entirely divorced from politics is how things are.  It’s completely untrue.  And now were seeing that framework kind of collapse on itself, right, whether it’s with Brexit, or with, you know, the kinds of dynamics we see in the United States, or just completely  how the world of development-assistance itself is shifting.  So I’ll give you a specific example.  The United Kingdom’s bilateral development agency, which is DFID, which used to be kind of ostensibly separate and independent, has now been collapsed into the Foreign Commonwealth Office (inaudible) which is the equivalent of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs, right?  And the separation of DFID from the FCO happened I think in the 1990s, but that was not always the norm.  And when you look around the world, you know, most of the other development agencies are intricately linked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  And that’s how things are; it’s not a bad thing.  But this notion that policy is separate from politics, and it’s completely depoliticized, it’s absolutely untrue.  It is false and it’s – it just does not make sense.  So, you know, you think about policy–what is policy itself?  It’s action or inaction taken by a government or, you know, an entity, an authority.  Well, politics is the decision of who gets what, when, and how, or, you know, the exercise of power to pursue a specific interest.  So when a decision – a policy decision is made, whether at the level of the government, you know, to invest, say, in region A but not region B, because of scarce resources, that is a political decision.  When a decision is made to establish a healthcare center in one area but not another, that is a political decision.  When international organizations decide to stop investing in fossil-fuel projects and prioritize renewable energy technology, that is entirely political.  Because it is a decision that is borne out of a (inaudible) of interests and ideas.  But somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that, you know, all of these things are purely technical but not political.  There’s nothing political about it.  Leave the politicians to deal with politics.  That is not true at all.

 

KATIE:  That’s very insightful and I think really important to highlight.  Are there specific political factors in the context of the resource-rich economies that you were talking about?  Are there particular political factors that you think have been misunderstood over time?

 

ZAINAB:  Absolutely.  That’s what my doctorate research and the publications that have come out of that, and of course the book.  I’m not just plugging it.  But, you know, I address that…

 

KATIE:  You can plug it.

 

ZAINAB:  …[CROSSTALK/LAUGHTER] – I address that extensively, at least in the first few chapters of the book.  You know, for resource-rich countries for a long time the resource curse theories have shaped our understanding of their challenges and, you know, the solutions – the so-called solutions for these challenges.  But the problem is, because the diagnosis itself was flawed the solutions themselves ended up being ineffective.  And part of the reason why the diagnosis was flawed was because with the resource curse theories – and let me just, you know, digress a bit here to say a number of the proponents of resource curse theories are actually people I know very well; they’re my friends.  Some of them are my friends, some people I know very well.  So it’s not a personal thing per se, it’s just intellectually I disagree.  And there’s sufficient evidence that is emerging from economists, from political scientists, from sociologists all disputing this.  So what a lot of the resource curse theories try to argue, they frame that in a way that was, as I mentioned earlier, a-historical, not thinking about the experience of other resource-rich economy that have been able to make the transition from poverty to prosperity.  You know, from the United States, to Canada, to Australia, but also countries like Malaysia, to a certain extent Indonesia, but also Botswana, right?  So a-historical, also being deterministic by just focusing on that resource and excluding all of the other structural dynamics and structural dimensions.  But I think the other aspect of politics there is that, you know, this partly has to do with the countries themselves, particularly African countries, that who actually is producing this knowledge?  African researchers and thinkers have been disempowered for the most part by their own governments, right?  So you have knowledge that is generated that is, like, really being generalized across different regions of the world.  A lot of the work, for example, on how natural resources undermine democracy was produced in the 1990s with specific reference to the Gulf Era monarchies.  But this was kind of translated to Africa, which was not really the case.  In many countries, you know, my country Nigeria, also DRC, you cannot just say that natural resources are undermining democracy.  These are [quote, unquote] “democracies” compared to the Gulf Era monarchies, right?  But they also have their own intensive political challenges.  The experience is very different.  But then if you had a lot more home-grown knowledge then people would’ve identified this easily.  But then because African governments, for the most part, had disempowered their own knowledge-production centers, this was not really the case.  You have all these kind of highfaluting theories being kind of used to explain the situation in Africa, or in African countries, right?  So I think the politics is kind of very intricately linked to how knowledge is generated, to how policies are thought of, designed, and then implemented I would say.

 

ROSE:  I really love this idea of debunking that, you know, knowledge, and a technical knowledge in particular, as this kind of objective standard thing absent and immune to forces of politics.  I have a science background and we see that even in science, that, like, you know, there’s so much inherent bias, and the starting point is not really neutral.  And so with all of this in mind do you have some kind of way forward for us to be able to achieve some of what you’re discussing, this kind of real nuanced, indigenous knowledge, a real factoring of the individual factors in each place, really empowering the decision-makers, the knowledge-brokers, all of the people in the various geographies?  How can we achieve some of these goods that you’re discussing given that we’re locked in this kind of power structure in the development world?

 

ZAINAB:  Yeah.  So I think the situation is not as intractable as we often like to think it is.  It’s not as, you know, depressing or as unchangeable as sometimes it is portrayed.  And I say this because, you know, you look at some other regions of the world that are also kind of “developing regions,” [quote, unquote], right, and you compare those regions with Africa and African countries, and you find that for many of them, or for many of the countries (inaudible), they have been able to reclaim the narrative for the most part about where they’re coming from, where they’re headed, and general policy discussions also.  So this is really an issue of knowledge production in all of its various facets.  So whether knowledge production in terms of creative industries and popular media, or, you know, academic and policy work, or very importantly news media.  So it is possible to do that.  The question then is, are African governments, African institutions primarily, interested, able, and willing to invest in all of these pillars or facets of knowledge production?  Because it can be done.  It’s been done.  I mean, look at East Asia, for example.  I’m not going to mention any names.  They’re all the, like, global and international media.  They have branches or divisions that cover East Asia.  But there is also local media from the (median) that is telling its story, that is shaping narratives about the region.  And those two can exist side by side.  So I think the point is not just that, you know, you have the west doing all these things to Africa.  That is happening because there’s a vacuum, and that vacuum can be addressed.  It’s not rocket science.  And some of it is already happening.  And I know we’ve kind of moved away from energy in particular, but we’ll come back to that because this has resonance around how we conceptualize, how we diagnose challenges around energy access, around technologies, around financing, around demand, how we come up with solutions, and how these solutions are implemented.  So we have to think about how knowledge around these things is produced.

 

[MUSIC]

 

ROSE:  Coming up, more from our conversation with Zainab on the geopolitics of decarbonization, how energy access will impact the future of digital work in Africa, and her take on the crown.

 

[MUSIC]

 

KATIE:  So Zainab, we’ve talked a bit about your upcoming book, which is, as I understand it, really about the diversification of Nigeria’s economy in a post-oil economy.  And I was curious, you know, even beyond Nigeria, as the global economy writ large moves more and more towards trying to achieve a zero-carbon future, what does that mean for particularly African countries that have historically been reliant on oil and gas, and, you know, what do you think are the critical things that they should really be thinking about and planning for as we embark on that process?

 

ZAINAB:  We are in a, I would say, unique historical moment where the entire world has to change many systems, many processes, many institutions, for us to be able to address the threat of climate change.  This is a threat to our very existence as humanity.  And for African countries that are reliant on fossil fuels, hydrocarbons, the implications are going to be quite profound.  Unfortunately we’ve kind of touched on this already.  It doesn’t seem like many of the key stakeholders in these countries are actually aware of what is coming.  Some are starting to wake up to the reality, but it is still a very, very small process.  Things have to change.  So many things have to change.  So what should they be doing?  I think the first thing is really just trying to understand the landscape, try to understand where global discourse is headed, and try to ensure that as a country, or as a region, whether it’s West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, or the continent as a whole, the African union and other continental bodies, you produce a common position that reflects your own priorities.  And you present that vision, that perspective, to be incorporated into the global discussion.  Because if you don’t do that decisions will be made for you.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  That is the main thing I will say to begin with.  Because there are also the details, right, you know, what policy to pursue, what – and that is going to vary by country.  But that initial foundation needs to be (built) of understanding what is going on, thinking about how that affects you as a country, as Nigeria, how does it affect you, you know?  Are you an oil producer, but you’re also a major gas producer?  The countries in East Africa–Uganda, Tanzania–with their recent gas discoveries, what does that mean for those new gas resources for the mineral exporters in Africa, especially those that have [quote, unquote] “climate minerals”–copper, you know, lithium–Zimbabwe, Zambia, and so on and so forth.  Also thinking about what that means for you.  You know, is this going to lead to a new scramble of mineral resources?  Are you prepared for that?  What about the environmental implications?  If the resources are extracted from the country these are non-renewable resources.  They’re going to be exhausted at some point.  If the resources are extracted to be used at import into electric vehicles whilst your country is in turmoil, environment is completely devasted, like, these are the kinds of things that people need to think about.

 

ROSE:  Switching gears a little bit to some really important but increasingly buzzy terms that we hear when we talk of the future of Africa.  So the future of work, the Digital Revolution, the – I don’t know if it’s the fourth or the fifth Industrial Revolution [LAUGHTER], you know?  And so you did a major piece of work at the World Bank on the future of work and general tech.  I know you care a lot about youth populations and jobs and opportunities in Africa.  And it’s something at the Hub we also think a lot about.  How do you think – like, in a kind of meaningful non-buzzy way, how do you think that, you know, technology, job creation, and power sector will intersect meaningfully on the continent, outside of the usual discourse at the E.U. putting out these kind of pie-in-the-sky papers about the (Nth) Industrial Revolution and how Africa will – this is our century and we’ll have all of these amazing advancements?

 

ZAINAB:  You know, this technology – new technology, including what we’re calling now the “Digital Revolution,” there is the concept of “leapfrogging,” which is the really buzzy word.  It’s a very important concept, but I think it has just kind of been overused and over(inaudible) to death.  And then there is economic transformation in Africa and the jobs implication.  So the different pathways of economic transformation and what that means for jobs.  For the work that we did on the future of work in Africa, what we looked at was how – of course we’re in an era of [quote, unquote] the “Digital Revolution,” the “fourth Industrial Revolution.”  This has huge implications for the world of work.  Because, you know, automation, digitization, and all of those things are changing business models.  They’re also changing skills requirements, meaning that the task component of an occupation is changing, the occupation itself is changing, so the job opportunities that exist in a particular industry are changing, and that even the industry itself is changing, right?  We try to look at the implications of all of those things for African countries or what it means for African countries.  And we kind of basically conclude that given the structure of African economies and African labor markets where, to begin with, manufacturing is a very small share of the GDP of many African countries–usually no more than, like, 10% to 12% on average–the kind of fears about automation destroying jobs we’re probably not going to see as much of that in many African countries, and in many industries in Africa.  And also many people tend to be engaged in informal work, or work in the informal sector, right?  So that is not work in, like, a big manufacturing firm that is likely to be displaced by robots or by automation.  But then what we say is that there are opportunities that African countries stand to kind of benefit from, provided that they put in place the right policies, or they do the needful, meaning that they invest in connectivity, infrastructure, digital infrastructure, energy, transport, the overhaul of their educational systems to be able to strengthen their human capital.  So the overhaul of educational systems to align with the structure of the labor markets, and then they think about initiatives that increase productivity of labor, and also (inaudible)-level productivity.  And that they also invest in social protection, systems, policies, and instruments, especially social protection that helps workers and firms to transition, right?  When that process of structural transformation is happening, as I mentioned, you know, you move from agriculture to industry, from rural areas to urban areas.  It’s a transition that is fraught with a lot of uncertainty and difficulty, so people need support.  You know, people might lose their jobs, they might be in a period of uncertainty, may need support from the government.  So that’s the work that we did on the future of work and, you know, digital technologies in Africa.

 

[MUSIC]

 

KATIE:  So Zainab, now it’s time to play Rant or Rave.  Basically this is a quick-fire game in which Rose and I are going to give you a series of words or phrases, and you basically decide whether you love them or hate them, and give us a little rant or rave as you feel fit.

 

ZAINAB:  Okay.

 

KATIE:  Ready?

 

ZAINAB:  Yeah.

 

KATIE:  Okay.  Rant or rave: vaccine geopolitics?

 

ZAINAB:  Ooh, it’s very unfortunate, very avoidable.  It just makes no sense to me when this small value to global coordination working together to address this threat to humanity, countries have retreated into their nationalist enclaves, and it is not working out for most.

 

ROSE:  All right, rant or fave: RCT trials and development economics?

 

ZAINAB:  [LAUGHTER]

 

ROSE:  This is your chance to offend all of your colleagues and friends.

 

ZAINAB:  So actually I – you know, RCTs, randomized-control trials, are important.  You know, we need them.  If you’re the director in a Ministry of Health you of course want to know what interventions work and which ones do not.  But at the macro level of thinking about the direction of a country, its trajectory, coming up with, you know, like, an industrial policy, I don’t really know how RCTs fit there.  They’re not a cure-all to the major development challenges that a country faces.

 

KATIE:  Good answer.  Okay, next one.  Chinese investment in Africa?

 

ZAINAB:  Ooh [LAUGHTER].  China has emerged in the last two decades as one of Africa’s major economic partners in terms of trade, in terms of investments, in terms of also development assistance.  And it has been able to make a lot of headway because it is, for the most part, responding to the priorities of African countries, especially around infrastructure, especially around interventions in the economy, especially around building hard stuff that can help African economies.  Of course there are a lot of challenges there with that engagement with Africa and with China that the Chinese are not very transparent.  But the thing is they are responding to the priorities of African countries and also they’re filling a vacuum.

 

KATIE:  All right, changing gears a little bit.  So Megan, Harry, and the Netflix show the Crown.

 

ZAINAB:  [LAUGHTER] Yeah, I started watching the Crown because I felt like an orphan after watching Game of Thrones, and I just couldn’t stand anything else on TV.  So I started watching the Crown.  Also, to be honest, after the interview Megan and Harry did with Oprah.  And watching the Crown, you know, thinking about the interview…  I remember when I was growing up and how myself and a lot of my friends all had a crush on Prince William, and now I just think very differently about the family.  Let’s just leave it at that.

 

KATIE:  [LAUGHTER] I think everyone of our age has gone through that transition.

 

ROSE:  Yeah, the Prince William?  I mean, to be honest, he hasn’t – not aged well, but that’s a topic for another day.  [LAUGHTER]

 

KATIE:  Zainab, thank you so much for being with us on High Energy Planet, and for having this conversation.  Rose and I just loved talking with you and we’re really excited to see where you take your new position and all of the fascinating things you’re going to do in the future.  So thank you so much.

 

ZAINAB:  Thank you, it was a pleasure to be on this show.

 

[MUSIC]

 

ROSE:  So it’s time for Amped Up, the one thing that each of us can’t stop thinking about right now in the energy and development space.  And this week, Katie, you’re obsessed with what Biden’s infrastructure says about Africa.  Tell me more.

 

KATIE:  Yeah.  So the short answer is it doesn’t say anything about Africa.  It doesn’t mention Africa at all.  And it doesn’t have any explicit ties to foreign investment.  But it really got me thinking about scale.  So President Biden’s proposed American jobs plan would put $2 trillion into roads, bridges, digital infrastructure, and the energy transition in the U.S.  If you carve out just the pieces of that plan that would help cut U.S. emissions, it’s roughly $1 trillion over 8 years.  And that goes to things like EV charging stations, R&D for clean tech, making the grid more resilient, and pilot projects in energy storage and hydrogen.  Domestically some people are saying this is way too much.  Some are saying it’s far too little.  But what’s clear is how dramatically that level of investment surpasses anything that’s on the table for Africa.  So for scale, in the U.S. we’re talking about $1 trillion over 8 years for just one country of 320 million people.  And that doesn’t include the money that would be leveraged from private-sector markets.  By contrast, at COP 16 developed countries committed to mobilizing just $100 billion in climate finance per year, including public and private dollars, for all developing countries around the world.  And the international community has never come anywhere close to meeting that goal.  My point is, if we see climate finance as a necessary investment in our collective future in modern infrastructure, in resilience, in improving lives and creating jobs–which I think we should–there needs to be a lot more money on the table.

 

ROSE:  That’s super interesting, Katie, to hear you.  I think the scale issue has really brought out – just as you were talking about it I also thought of this kind of an analog in the vaccine conversation right now in terms of what rich countries are – it’s a global problem.  Like, you know, the (inaudible) and the access in rich countries versus poor countries, and the population disparity in both, and how are we going to kind of – all rowing the same direction.  And so super, super interesting and something that applies to so many other dysfunctional aspects of how we solve problems.  I mean, do you think I got that right or am I stretching – stretching it too far?

 

KATIE:  No, I think you’re point’s right on.  I think the vaccine diplomacy debacle is another area where too many people weren’t thinking of this as a collective problem.  And it’s easy to kind of retrench into nationalist positions.  So I’d love to see people thinking more creatively in the climate-finance space about that as well.  And Rose, your obsession this week has been the Ever Given boat, which is that huge tanker ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal.

 

ROSE:  Oh my goodness, Katie, I think I spent, like, maybe 80% of my time that week just, like, looking at memes.  There’s so many great memes that really tapped into the existential angst.  My favorite was, like, the massive boat and the little crane, you know, and the little crane is, like, “my daily COVID-19 safe walk.”

 

KATIE:  It became he metaphor for absolutely everything in our lives.

 

ROSE:  It was so great.  But, you know, I think – but getting back to energy, one thing that I really loved about this whole debacle is we often talk about how energy is this invisible thing that many people in rich countries take for granted.  Like, it just is this kind of invisible juice that’s just, you know, flowing and you turn on the light and there it is.  But I love it when seemingly invisible things, we’re forced to really think about them and look at them.  And infrastructure is a big one.  You know, we’ve talked about, say, the internet as this thing in the air.  But the internet is so physical–it’s the fiber-optic cables, it’s the cell towers, it’s all of this stuff.  And, you know, I think it really is grounding.  And so in the same way everything we have, all our stuff is tied up in this really complex kind of global shipping system that is completely invisible to us.  And for the first time we’re, like, looking at maps of – like, little physical, you know, traffic maps of ships, and all our stuff is on there.  And I think this is – it’s so important for us to have less distance from the different systems, including infrastructure, including power, including shipping, that kind of underpin our life.  I have to admit I kind of panicked because they were saying that so many kind of everyday necessities are going to get scarce because of the kind of downstream effect.  And so I maybe stockpiled some toilet paper.  So very sorry to my neighbors.

 

KATIE:  It’s like it’s 2020 all over again.

 

ROSE:  [LAUGHTER] I know.  I couldn’t help it.  I was, like, this massive boat is stuck and now nothing will ever get to anyone [LAUGHTER].  But on that vein, nobody panic; everything’s okay kind of.

 

KATIE:  Awesome.  If you have an energy or development obsession, good or bad, tweet it to us at @EnergyforGrowth and we’ll include it in an upcoming episode.

 

[MUSIC]

 

KATIE:  Well, that’s it for today’s show.  High Energy Planet is a production of the Energy for Growth Hub, an energy solutions connector matching policymakers with evidence-based pathways to a high-energy future for everyone.  Find out more at EnergyforGrowth.org and tweet your questions and thoughts to us at @EnergyforGrowth.

 

ROSE:  If you liked today’s episode be sure to rate and rank the podcast and tell a friend about us.  Bob Lalasz is our executive producer, (Gray Johnson) is our senior producer.  Join us next time for more High Energy Planet.

 

[MUSIC]

 

[0:36:20]

 

END

Social Share: