Last week I attended a workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR as the jargon goes. While it was quite an insightful experience, when the topic on climate change and global warming came around, I felt somehow irritated. Irritated not because the speaker’s points were incorrect but rather because the opportunities in such a scenario was never brought forward. So I decided to write about why Climate change is good, how this is on of the fears driving our innovations and why this isn’t what we should really be thinking about.
All of you must have heard the phrase “Necessity is the mother of Invention”. Those of you who have watched 2001: A space odyssey might be able to relate with me further. It’s such a beautifully crafted film which explores the progression of terran civilisation. The legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan was consulted for the project and true to his vision he understood that to showcase a monumental event, the trigger has to be simple, minimalistic but has to come from the primal instinct of survival. Be it the monkey using the bone as a club to reclaim his lost territory or the Von Neumann probe humans found on the moon, the survival instinct resulted in progression of the race. Isn’t the climate change about our survival? Don’t we need to progress or perish? Isn’t this the necessity that will drive the innovation?
Nikolai Kardashev proposed the Kardashev scale in 1964 as a measure of a civilization’s technological progress based on the amount of energy a civilization can directly harness. A type 1 civilization can harness the entire power of its host planet, a type 2 of its host star and a type 3 of its host galaxy. We currently rank about 0.73 on the Kardashev scale and are projected to become a type 1 civilization somewhere in the next 100 years but there are a lots of ifs and the biggest if is “If we can survive the next 100 years”. But what does it take to really become a type 1 civilization.
a) A Global Nation
Wars are prohibitively expensive. The last 2 world wars have taught us enough economic, social and political lessons that it seems like an extremely inefficient way to go. Consider this, the most expensive project undertaken by humanity is the International space station which in today’s term would peg back the taxpayers by about 100 billion dollars. It took 27 nations to pump in such a large amount and the ISS is just in low earth orbit that’s only 400 Km above us ! If we are to become space faring civilisation and travel trillions of kilometres, it would take trillions of dollars to build the millennium falcons and the enterprise, not counting the vast amount of human intellectual capital that would be required as well. But with oil projected to run out in next 50 years, world population to hit 9 billion by 2050 and constantly depleting water supply how do you get around to convincing the world nations to focus on space exploration. Kevin Spacey eloquently put it ‘The problem with democracy is everyone has a say’. While am not against democracy. A unanimous consensus in democracy is a rare event. Now with 196(including Taiwan) countries in the world with each at different stages of socio-economic development cycle and you can understand how difficult it would be to get a common agreement. You can either have one hyper nation (think more wars) or a block (somewhat like EU) or what I would like to call a “Global Nation”, a confederation which is more global in scope and vision than the EU and lays down common laws and abolishes boundary. We live in a knowledge age and unless this knowledge is allowed to travel and be utilised freely across boundaries, its full potential cannot be realised. After all we cannot hope to do our best if we do not use our best.
b) A Global Language
One of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century Stephen Hawking, earlier in 2016 speaking to BBC warned that humanity is in danger of destroying itself in the next 100 years as we rapidly progress in the realms of science and technology. Lets hope we aren’t too little too late by then.