Hello folks, this is my first real foray into this type of blogging. I am here for two reasons. The first is that everyone is talking and talking past each other, but it seems that not enough people doing anything to help build a positive new world. There is the idea, that to me is a throwback to the 1970’s, that we are doomed and we are just going to have to get used to the idea of being less free, less prosperous, and less willing to look forward brightly to the future. I reject this idea, which is at the core of reason 1. Reason 2 is to talk about what we can do to bring into being a prosperous 21st century.
At the core of the issue today that confronts the whole world is energy. Increased sources of higher quality of energy, starting with wood, then coal, now oil, along with industrialization has allowed mankind, starting with the English industrial revolution almost 300 years ago to increase lifespans from approximately 40 years to today’s 78+ years for advanced countries. Today these advances are under threat. From the specter of climate change forced by the burning of hydrocarbon energy, to the energy and resource demands of the rapidly developing nations that are already surpassing demand in the west, our civilization is under pressure. What to do about that pressure will decisively shape the outcome of the 21st century.
There are those, among them a great number of our political elite (in the west), who believe that the only solution is to step back from the future, to reduce our demands on the resources of the planet as a means to convince China, India, and other rising nations to themselves constrain their own growth. The underlying premise is that our energy and material resources are fundamentally limited by the physical limits of planet Earth and must be conserved for their to be any hope in the future. They furthermore discount the ability of technology to provide the answers to take us beyond today and to solve the basically technical problems to get beyond today’s limits to growth.
The idea of limits to growth has been around since the 1960’s and is embedded deeply into today’s environmental movement and many of the political class, but is it a fact, an axiom that technology indeed does not have the answers to these problems? This is what I want to focus on, solving the technical problems. This is what I want to talk about here as I am 100% certain, as a technologist, that technology does have the solutions to our problems today. The doubters say that of course a technologist would say that, it is a question of self interest. They are right, however, we also have an interest in the rest of our fellow citizens and people in the rest of the world as well and we know that there are solutions, global and local level solutions that will shatter the limits to growth that are far more perception than reality.
That is something worth talking about and it is our duty as technologists to bring the solutions to the attention of our fellow citizens so that a debate can be had. This debate is already in progress and 99.5% dominated by the limits to growth position. It is time for that to change. That is where I will start next time.
I don’t want to talk about the paternity of Sara Palin’s child Trig, or whether or not president Obama is a socialist. There are 5000 places to do that on the Internet. Solving the technical problems does have a political aspect to it an in that context I will discuss it. However, wasting time on political spitball fights is a recipe for paralysis and I don’t want it here.