TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Clean technology, while a huge opportunity, will not go to scale in time to prevent a global economic and social crisis.

Considering all the comments on my talk, The Earth is Full, I would sum up by saying that everyone pretty much agrees we face some serious ecological and resource limits. The debate is will these naturally be dealt with in the normal course of technological and market processes, or will they result in a serious global economic crisis. My view is strongly that a crisis is inevitable and that it will be an economic crisis - but that will then trigger a war level of mobilisation that will drive massive technological change. So relying on technology to prevent the crisis is wrong.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 28 2012: Hi Paul. I believe you have committed a 'non sequitur.'
    You say (and I agree) that we face serious ecological and resource limit problems.
    You say (and I agree) that these problems will encourage the development of technological and market process solutions.
    Then you say that the solutions will fail and result in a global economic crises, which will then encourage militarism. Then you say that the militarism will produce more technological development. Then you say that this resulting technological development which was motivated by militarism results in the conclusion that the first efforts to solve the ecological and resource problems through the development of technology were a mistake.
    Do you see the problem?
    The technologies developed to reduce the problems facing the environment, and the development of markets are of a different kind than those developed for the military. If no effort is made to solve problems affecting the environment and resource limits then the crisis will only come sooner. Don't you agree? If the crisis is such that militarism is seen as one of the solutions, then militarism will occur. The technologies developed for the military will not be beneficial to the effort to solve the problems of the environment, including resource depletion, nor to the expansion of markets globally.
    We have several separate conundrums: How can we save the environment, how can we reduce resource depletion, how can we raise the economic well being of more people, how can we reduce the 'knee-jerk' response that results in the growth of militarism, how can we improve the overall health of the inhabitants of this Earth, and how can we achieve a stable, healthy, prosperous population.
    We are going to need new ways to do things. Every little discovery is another step toward these goals. Someone said 'there is a light at the end of the tunnel.' I say 'there is more than one tunnel. Some are very dark!'
    • Mar 29 2012: Jon, good commentary. I think we should differentiate between militarism and "war like mobilisation". I think the latter could include militarism but doesn't have to. But it's a good reference point to how fast we could move if we chose to do so.

      And I don't think the earlier efforts were a mistake as such, they just didn't work - or at least haven't yet. I'm not sure anything else would have been a better idea though, as we have this incredible resistance to change.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.