Saturday, December 25, 2010

Long Range Thinking: How to save the world

Merry Christmas! The previous post talked about nine 'boundaries' that we have to keep the world operating inside, to first avoid environmental collapse and then to keep Earth on a stable footing. Several of these boundaries are affected by population pressure.

For the first time while watching, I saw conceptual links between three different presentations. It was very cool, because (watched in sequence) they give a clear argument and solution to stabilising world population at around nine billion people.

First up, Hans Rosling sets the stage by illustrating that an increase to nine billion is inevitable (barring nuclear war or massive die-backs). And he does it in a way that's low-tech and convincing.

After that, the obvious question is how do we lower or stabilise the birth rate? Hans Rosling makes a good case for educating women being the key.

Finally, this presentation by Sugata Mitra lays out a low-cost, resource-light way of spreading education into the areas of the world that really need it. His thesis: let children educate themselves. Warning: this presentation is wicked.

I'm going to be on the look out now for more talks that lay out simple solutions to these nine boundaries:

- climate change
- ozone levels
- ocean acidification
- levels of nitrogen and phosphorus
- freshwater use
- rate of biodiversity loss
- changes in land use
- air pollution
- chemical pollution
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