Broken Planet, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
The 120 heads of state and some 50,000 environmentalists, social activists, and business leaders gathered in
No, I'm not among those
Environmentalists are right when they say that toxic gases, industrial pollution and the destruction of rain forests are hurting our habitat, and that the problem will get worse if we don't do anything about it.
The world's population is projected to grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050, and the planet will need substantially more water, food and energy in coming years. Something needs to be done to save our clear air, our oceans and our forests. The "grow now, clean up later" economic model is neither fair nor viable.
But reading a new book, "Abundance: The future is better than you think," by
New technologies have helped the world become a much better place in recent years. When I was a child, the conventional wisdom was that the world would soon run out of food because the world population was growing much faster than food production. There were famines in
Instead, along came the Green Revolution of the 1960s that developed new ways of producing high-yielding crops, and
Which brings me back to the book Abundance, which essentially says that thanks to technology, few resources are truly scarce; they are just inaccessible. If we change our mindset from negative to creative thinking, we can solve virtually all of the planet's water, energy, and health problems.
Take the case of water: Today, about 1.1 billion people don't have access to safe drinking water, and some scientists project that 135 million people will die before 2020 because they lack drinking water and sanitation systems.
The planet is full of water -- oceans cover two-thirds of its surface -- but the problem is that most of it is too salty for consumption, or too concentrated in a few areas, or poorly distributed and mismanaged.
Yet there are dozens of new desalination and nanotech water management technologies that may soon make water abundant for everybody. About 80 percent of the world's water consumption is for agriculture and a sizable part of it is wasted through holes in leaky pipes, but new information technologies are being used to embed all sorts of sensors into pipes. Scientists believe that a smart grid could save
In a telephone interview, I asked Diamandis what is missing at the Rio+20 meeting.
Diamandis, who is a co-founder of
Instead, he said, they should focus on "exponential technologies,'' or technologies that double in price performance every year. "We now use these technologies to play video games, but we don't use them to address the world's biggest problems.'' he said.
My opinion: I agree. The Rio+20 meeting should be applauded for encouraging conservation, but it should have spent more time promoting innovation.
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Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)