This fall, Aii hosted a nationwide scholarship competition open to all enrolled students in higher education. We received articles from undergraduates across the country as well as masters and PhD candidates all putting their ideas forward on how to solve the nation’s most pressing challenges.
The contest details asked students to write an OpEd, like an opinion article, for a publication of their choosing and work to get their ideas in print.
While our judging panel works to narrow down the submissions, we thought we would see how a chatbot handled the competition. Increasingly, platforms like ChatGPT and other chat programs offer the potential to draft text, edit, or revise written work. These may help researchers manage datasets, lawyers draft pleadings, or policymakers write out the templates for new laws and regulations.
Here is how ChatGPT handled our scholarship competition. Do you think it’s ready to have wider application? Which answer do you find most compelling? Stay tuned for results from our competition, expected in November.
Prompt 1: An Action Plan
Decarbonization is increasingly important, but renewables aren’t coming online fast enough. What would you propose as an actionable, additive opportunity for reducing CO2 emissions associated with infrastructure in your community? Write an OpEd up to 900 words.
Title: Embracing Carbon Capture Technology: A Bold Step Towards a Greener Future
In the face of the escalating climate crisis, the urgency to decarbonize our communities has never been more critical. While renewables are undoubtedly a crucial part of the solution, their deployment isn’t happening at the necessary speed to match the scale of the challenge before us. As we grapple with this reality, it’s imperative to explore innovative and immediate solutions. One such avenue deserving our attention and investment is carbon capture technology—a game-changing approach that can significantly curb CO2 emissions associated with our community’s infrastructure.
The Imperative for Immediate Action
The latest climate reports are alarming, underscoring the need for bold, accelerated measures to combat global warming. Our community, like countless others, cannot afford to wait for renewable energy sources to come online at a pace dictated by market forces. We need solutions now—practical, impactful, and scalable approaches that can drastically reduce our carbon footprint and provide a bridge toward a fully renewable future.
Carbon Capture Technology: The Untapped Potential
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology offers precisely this potential. CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing them from entering the atmosphere. Instead of being released into the air, the captured CO2 can be transported and stored underground in geological formations. By integrating CCS into our existing industrial infrastructure, we can substantially cut down emissions without disrupting our current energy systems.
Addressing Local Industries
Many communities, including ours, have industries like cement, steel, and chemical production that are difficult to decarbonize using renewable energy alone. CCS provides a lifeline for these sectors, allowing them to continue operations while drastically reducing their carbon emissions. By incentivizing local industries to adopt CCS technology, we can create a tangible impact on our community’s overall carbon footprint.
Investing in Research and Development
To make CCS more accessible and cost-effective, investment in research and development is essential. By supporting local research institutions and startups focused on advancing carbon capture technology, we can drive innovation and lower the costs associated with implementation. Government funding and private-sector partnerships can accelerate the development of more efficient, scalable, and affordable carbon capture solutions.
Establishing public-private partnerships is key to the successful implementation of CCS projects. By collaborating with private enterprises, we can leverage their expertise, resources, and technology to deploy carbon capture systems across our community. Financial incentives, tax breaks, and streamlined regulatory processes can encourage businesses to invest in carbon capture initiatives, fostering a symbiotic relationship where economic growth aligns with environmental sustainability.
Community Engagement and Awareness
Building public understanding and support for CCS is crucial. Many people are unaware of the potential of carbon capture technology and its role in mitigating climate change. Community outreach programs, educational workshops, and informational campaigns can dispel myths and educate residents about the benefits and safety measures associated with CCS. Engaging with our community ensures that everyone is informed and invested in our collective efforts to reduce emissions.
A Call to Action
In the face of the climate crisis, we must be willing to explore all viable options to curb CO2 emissions, even those that involve working with existing infrastructure. Carbon capture technology represents an actionable, additive opportunity to achieve substantial reductions in our community’s carbon footprint. By embracing CCS, we are not compromising our commitment to renewables; rather, we are bolstering it with immediate, impactful measures that can make a difference today.
Let us unite in our resolve to invest in carbon capture technology, to support research and development, and to foster public-private collaborations. Together, we can pioneer a path to a greener future—one where innovation, sustainability, and economic prosperity coexist harmoniously. Our community has always been resilient, forward-thinking, and adaptive. Embracing carbon capture technology is the next step in our journey toward a more sustainable tomorrow.
The time for action is now. Let us seize this opportunity and lead the way toward a greener, healthier, and more sustainable future for our community and generations yet to come.
Prompt 2: If I Were In Charge
You’re running for election in a local political race, and you need innovative and actionable ideas to lower the CO2 intensity of your department, agency, or locality. The plan needs to be ready to implement from the moment you step foot in the new office. Choose a real, public office election in a locality of your choice. Write a campaign thought leadership piece in which you take a clear stand with your ideas no longer than 900 words.
Title: A Sustainable Tomorrow: Pioneering Environmental Excellence in Our Community
In the heart of our beloved community, a critical battle is being fought—one that concerns us all, regardless of age, gender, or background. Our environment is facing unprecedented challenges, and it’s our responsibility to take bold, decisive action to secure a sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come. I stand before you not just as a candidate but as a steadfast advocate for change, armed with innovative and actionable ideas to drastically lower the CO2 intensity of our locality from day one in office.
**1. ** Investment in Renewable Energy:
The first step towards a greener tomorrow is a rapid transition to renewable energy sources. I propose establishing a local renewable energy fund, encouraging private investment in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. By offering tax incentives and streamlined permitting processes, we can empower businesses and homeowners to embrace clean energy solutions, significantly reducing our carbon footprint while fostering economic growth.
**2. ** Green Transportation Initiatives:
We will invest in a comprehensive public transportation system, ensuring it’s affordable, efficient, and accessible to all residents. Electric buses, bike-sharing programs, and carpool incentives will not only ease traffic congestion but also cut down emissions significantly. Furthermore, we’ll create designated bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly pathways to encourage eco-friendly commuting, making our community safer and greener.
**3. ** Energy-Efficient Buildings:
Our locality can lead by example through energy-efficient building codes and incentives for retrofitting existing structures. By partnering with local businesses and homeowners, we’ll facilitate the adoption of LED lighting, smart thermostats, and solar panels, ensuring reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills. Additionally, we will collaborate with architects and developers to construct new buildings using sustainable materials and cutting-edge technologies, setting a new standard for environmentally conscious construction practices.
**4. ** Waste Reduction and Recycling Programs:
Implementing a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program is essential in our fight against climate change. I propose initiating curbside composting services, expanding recycling facilities, and educating residents about the importance of waste separation. By reducing landfill waste and promoting recycling, we not only lower CO2 emissions but also preserve our natural resources for future generations.
**5. ** Afforestation and Green Spaces:
We will launch ambitious afforestation programs, aiming to plant thousands of trees across our locality. Trees are nature’s carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen, thereby purifying our air. Additionally, we’ll create more green spaces, parks, and community gardens. These areas will not only enhance our quality of life but also serve as vital carbon-absorbing ecosystems, contributing significantly to our fight against climate change.
**6. ** Climate Education and Advocacy:
Education is the cornerstone of lasting change. I will promote environmental literacy in schools, empowering our youth with the knowledge and skills needed to become the environmental stewards of tomorrow. Furthermore, I’ll establish partnerships with local environmental organizations, encouraging community engagement through workshops, seminars, and clean-up initiatives. Together, we’ll amplify our voices, advocating for stronger environmental policies at higher levels of government.
**7. ** Transparent Governance and Accountability:
Lastly, I pledge to maintain complete transparency and accountability in the implementation of these initiatives. Regular town hall meetings, progress reports, and open communication channels will keep you informed about our efforts and challenges. Your feedback will be invaluable in shaping our strategies, ensuring that our actions resonate with the true aspirations of our community.
This election is not just about choosing a representative; it’s about choosing a path forward. We stand at a crossroads, and the choices we make today will echo through the ages. By electing me, you’re not just selecting a leader; you’re choosing a vision of hope, progress, and environmental stewardship.
Let’s embark on this transformative journey together, hand in hand, towards a greener, healthier, and more prosperous future. Together, we can pioneer environmental excellence in our community, setting an example for others to follow. I urge you to stand with me, and let’s turn our collective dreams of a sustainable tomorrow into a vibrant, green reality.
With unwavering determination and deep gratitude for your trust,
Candidate for [Your Chosen Public Office]
Prompt 3: Unlocking the Future
One critically important pathway to reducing CO2 accumulation is to reduce emissions from cars and trucks. Electric vehicles are part of the solution, but it will take 20-30 years to grow our electrical grid to meet both the power generation and transmission capacity needed to support the rapidly growing charging needs for electric cars and trucks. We can’t wait 20 years for electric cars to become viable. Assuming that most people do not want to reduce their quality of life and do not want to give up the flexibility offered by having access to cars and trucks, what would you propose for your community and/or your local businesses? Write an OpEd about your proposal that would make vehicles – and energy for those vehicles – clean in your community by 2040. (No longer than 900 words)
Title: Powering the Future: A Roadmap to Clean Mobility in Our Community by 2040
In our race against time to combat climate change, one of the most pressing challenges we face is reducing emissions from cars and trucks. While electric vehicles (EVs) are a crucial part of the solution, building the necessary infrastructure to support their widespread adoption is a monumental task, one that cannot wait for the slow march of progress. Our community cannot afford to stagnate for the next two decades. We need immediate, innovative solutions that do not compromise our quality of life or the flexibility offered by personal vehicles. Here’s a bold proposal to make vehicles and the energy that powers them clean in our community by 2040.
**1. ** Investing in Advanced Biofuels: Biofuels derived from organic materials can play a pivotal role in reducing emissions from our vehicles. Unlike traditional fossil fuels, advanced biofuels are renewable and have significantly lower carbon footprints. I propose investing in research and development of advanced biofuel technologies. By partnering with local universities and businesses, we can create a hub for innovation, fostering the production of sustainable, high-performance biofuels. These biofuels can be seamlessly integrated into our existing infrastructure, providing an immediate and efficient way to decarbonize our transportation sector.
**2. ** Promoting Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer a promising alternative to traditional combustion engines. They emit only water vapor, making them completely clean and environmentally friendly. Establishing hydrogen refueling stations across our community can encourage the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles, especially in sectors where electric vehicles might not be feasible, such as heavy-duty trucks and buses. Incentivizing businesses to invest in hydrogen-powered fleets can accelerate the shift toward cleaner transportation options.
**3. ** Enhancing Public Transportation and Active Mobility: Improving public transportation infrastructure and promoting active mobility options such as biking and walking can significantly reduce our reliance on individual cars. By investing in efficient, widespread public transit systems and creating pedestrian-friendly pathways and bike lanes, we can encourage residents to choose eco-friendly alternatives. Moreover, electric buses and bikes can be integrated into the public transportation system, further reducing emissions and promoting sustainable travel options.
**4. ** Transitioning to Sustainable Urban Planning: Our community’s urban planning plays a pivotal role in shaping our transportation habits. I propose adopting sustainable urban planning practices that prioritize mixed-use developments, reducing the need for long commutes and unnecessary travel. By creating vibrant, walkable neighborhoods where residents can live, work, and access essential services within close proximity, we can minimize the demand for excessive car usage, leading to reduced emissions and a higher quality of life.
**5. ** Incentivizing Energy Efficiency in Local Businesses: Local businesses are essential stakeholders in our journey toward cleaner transportation. I advocate for incentivizing businesses to adopt energy-efficient practices, not only in their operations but also in their transportation fleets. Tax breaks, grants, and low-interest loans can encourage businesses to invest in cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. By supporting our local enterprises in making this transition, we can create a ripple effect, driving the adoption of sustainable practices throughout our community.
**6. ** Empowering Community Engagement and Education: Raising awareness and empowering our community members with knowledge about clean transportation options is key to encouraging widespread adoption. I propose launching educational campaigns, workshops, and community events focused on clean mobility. These initiatives will inform residents about the benefits of alternative fuels, energy-efficient vehicles, and sustainable transportation practices. An informed community is an engaged community, ready to embrace change and contribute to our collective efforts to combat climate change.
**7. ** Government Leadership and Collaboration: As your representative, I am committed to leading by example. I pledge to transition the government’s own vehicle fleet to cleaner alternatives, setting a precedent for other organizations and individuals in our community. Additionally, I will work tirelessly to collaborate with federal and state agencies, advocating for grants and funding opportunities to support our clean mobility initiatives. By fostering partnerships and leveraging available resources, we can expedite the transition to clean transportation.
The path to clean mobility is not an easy one, but it’s a necessary journey for the well-being of our community and the planet. By embracing innovation, fostering collaboration, and empowering our residents and businesses, we can make clean vehicles and energy sources a reality in our community by 2040. Together, let’s pave the way for a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future—one where our vehicles do not contribute to the climate crisis but rather drive us toward a healthier, brighter tomorrow.
The draft articles above were generated by ChatGPT and have not been edited or revised. This is only a demonstration of the platform, no other content on this site is generated by or edited with chatbots or similar programs. Learn more about our fall essay contest, which has now closed: https://www.aii.org/student-scholarship-contest/
Written by Benjamin Dierker, Executive Director (and ChatGPT)
The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.