Often accused of being too skeptical by my students, I leave you on a positive note for the summer.
See you in August!
In order to solve some of the most intractable economic, social, and environmental problems we face, it seems that we have, at the extremes, two choices: We either reduce significantly our consumption levels and living standards (i.e., the sacrifice option), or we invent new ways of doing the things we already do (i.e., the innovation option). Some combination of both would, no doubt, be ideal.
From much that I read in the daily news and CSR newsletters I receive (together with what I know of human nature—politicians, in particular), while I think the sacrifice option needs to be an important part of the puzzle, I also think it is highly unlikely.
If true, that leaves us relying on the innovation option. If this is to work, there are many fundamental questions that remain unanswered: Can we find technical solutions to problems such as climate change? If so, can we implement them on a global scale? And, most importantly, can we do all this in time (i.e., before we reach the tipping point of no return)?
If it is possible, I think the answers to these questions may well come from new institutions such as the Singularity University. This new university, outlined in the article in the first url below, is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and backed by organizations such as Google and NASA:
“In a spare one-room office at Nasa's Silicon Valley campus, a small band of futurists is plotting to save the world. The means are not a revolutionary technology or a new world order (though both may be byproducts). Rather, a new, pseudo-academic institution called Singularity University is going to solve our grand challenges: poverty, hunger, energy scarcity and climate change. Among others. Through a combination of techno-optimism, wide-eyed idealism and belief in the perfectibility of human beings, these well-connected geeks are creating an institution meant to legitimise their most extreme thinking.”
Some more extreme, out-of-left-field innovations that are circulating in science circles are outlined in the second url below:
“The science of altering the world's natural systems is called geo-engineering. Once on the whacky fringes of scientific research, the subject is rapidly becoming mainstream, attracting serious attention from academics and governments.”
Have a great summer!
Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006
Have These People Seen The Future?
By David Gelles
25 April 2009
Changing the planet might help preserve it
By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent
9 May 2009
Geo-engineering - altering the Earth's systems - may soon be our only option, says Fiona Harvey