PAUL GILDING says it’s time to stop worrying about climate change. We need instead to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable. He believes this Great Disruption started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and melting ice caps. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and resources
According to Gilding, the coming decades will see loss, suffering, and conflict as our planetary overdraft is paid; however, they will also bring out the best humanity can offer: compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability.
Gilding says we must fight-and win-what he calls The One Degree War to prevent catastrophic warming of the earth. He believes the crisis offers us a chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability, and an unmatched business opportunity as old industries collapse and new companies reshape our economy. In the aftermath of the Great Disruption, we will measure “growth” not by quantity of stuff but quality of life.
PAUL GILDING is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability. He has been involved with and led activist campaigns on a wide variety of social and environmental issues and served as Executive Director, Greenpeace Australia and Greenpeace International. Gilding founded Ecos Corporation in 1995, consulting to some of the world’s largest corporations on issues of sustainability until its sale in 2008. His first book is THE GREAT DISRUPTION: Why the Climate Crisis will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.
Free Forum Q&A: ALAN WEISMAN, Author of COUNTDOWN Slowing Population Growth Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on EarthWritten on December 10th, 2013
What do you think are the biggest solvable problems facing humanity? Justice and inequality? Violence and war? Climate change and pollution? Today we’re going to focus on one that I believe underlies all of those: Population.
The last book from today’s guest, ALAN WEISMAN, was thought-provoking, award-winning, and best-selling. THE WORLD WITHOUT US, which was made into a powerful documentary, imagined what would happen to planet earth if humans disappeared. Our massive infrastructure would collapse and vanish without human presence, and nature would swiftly begin to heal without our daily pressures.
But, Weisman, would rather Imagine a successful world with us, and that led to his newest book, COUNTDOWN: OUR LAST, BEST HOPE FOR A FUTURE ON EARTH. For this one, he traveled to 21 countries asking politicians, scientists, family planning specialists, doctors, and religious leaders, crucial questions about how we can successfully deal with the size of human population.
Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth.
After 3.8 billion years of R&D on this planet, failures are fossils. What surrounds us in the natural world is what has succeeded and survived. So why not learn as much as
we can from what works?
This week’s guest, JAY HARMON is doing just that, translating nature’s lessons and models into technologies that solve problems and perform tasks more elegantly, efficiently, and economically. He’s the author of THE SHARK’S PAINTBRUSH: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation. I believe biomimicry – a way of looking and working and designing – has enormous potential to save us from ourselves. I find this one of the most exciting developments in the world at this time.
I seldom interview writers of fiction, but the debut novel THE AGE OF MIRACLES got my attention. It’s being heavily promoted as one of THE books of the summer. Enough so that I read the first couple of pages and I really like the writing. It’s about how one family in Southern California responds to a global crisis, the slowing of the earth, and the lengthening of days and nights. The writer, KAREN THOMPSON WALKER joins me for a delightful interview.
Recently the annual TED conference took place in Long Beach California. I have long recommended its famous 18 minute TED talks. Check out TED.com/talks, they cover a wide range of topics including science, technology, design, business, global issues and they have recurring themes of inspiration, challenge, and optimism. Not unlike what I try to do with this radio show.
On opening day the recent conference scheduled two talks one after the other. The first by Paul Gilding entitled The Earth is Full asked questions like Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Gilding suggests we have with the possibility of devastating consequences. In a talk that’s equal parts terrifying and oddly hopeful, he says “It takes a good crisis to get us going. When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things.”
That talk was followed by one by today’s guest, PETER DIAMANDIS, entitled Abundance Is Our Future in which he makes the case for optimism — that we’ll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. “I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems — problems – climate crisis, species extinction, water and energy shortage – we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”
Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But, according to a new book by Diamandis and co-author Steven Kotler, it is closing-fast. In Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, they document how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous two hundred years. They believe we will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet.