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A scientific and technical challenge we must accept

Published: 27 November 2013

‘Choose the Earth’, is the message of James Dyke’s latest headline article in The Conversation, ‘not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’

Dr Dyke is a Lecturer in Complex Systems Simulation, and a member of the Agents, Interaction and Complexity research group in ECS (Electronics and Computer Science). He developed and leads the teaching of the multidisciplinary Global Challenges undergraduate module at the University of Southampton.

Contrasting the scientific and technical challenges posed by climate change and human impact on the environment with the huge achievement of US scientists who successfully landed American astronauts on the Moon in 1969 - less than 10 years after President Kennedy made this a national goal, Dr Dyke sets out the scale of the effort that could ensure the sustainability of our planet.

Reducing carbon emissions, providing new means of power generation, and building smartgrids are some of the technological problems to be faced; halting deforestation and ensuring better and more sustainable use of the Earth’s resources will require concerted global efforts. In addition to this, Dr Dyke also calls for changes to governance and political institutions: ‘Rather than top down, imposed solutions that don’t work, get people involved in processes and issues that matter to them. Connect them with others and have them feel invested in these projects and collectively build consensus and power from the bottom up.’

However, the major challenge is even more radical, he says: ‘Hyper-consumerism and the demand for growth is simply not compatible with the finite resources of our planet, and the use of Gross Domestic Product as the only measure that counts needs to be addressed, so that natural resources and human lives are defined by more than monetary values.’

The full article is available in The Conversation, Wednesday 27 November.

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