Tuesday, December 9, 2008

DC wrap-up

Well, the NCSE Biodiversity conference is a wrap, at least as far as I'm concerned. The conference goes on for another day, but we have to get back so Aimee can help judge our own Unity College student conference, and so the students can participate.

Apart from a moment this morning where we all got unexpectedly separated for an hour or so, we've kept our troops in a loop, and all has gone more or less well logistically. The van driver even showed up so early to the Quaker guest house, I had to send him off for some lunch. Unheard of. I had put an spare hour in the schedule on the grounds that the van driver always shows up late, or that you get delayed by traffic or something. But it seems we may not need it.

Hopefully the students have learned something, if at least how much more there always is to learn, especially if you want to be a successful professional in this field, especially a scientist of policy wonk.

All of the faculty said they learned a lot.

For myself, I ran into some old friends and updated some knowledge, so I was glad for that.

I took some notes on hearing Tom Friedman of the NYT talk this morning. He was waxing quite lyrical on the notion that owning the best green technology (the best way to make to make "green electrons and green [fuel] molecules") would make America great and powerful again.

"ET," he calls it, for energy technology. As in IT, the last great wave.

OK. Good. I can go with that. Obviously, I'm all for green energy. That's why I studied ecological economics, climate change and climate policy, and why I help run a sustainability design and technology degree program. (Is this an "ET" program?)

But what are we going to do with that power?

That's what I want to know.

If we plan to spread freedom, democracy and economic security around the world, I'm all for it.

If all we want to do is get rich (again), well, sorry, but that's just sad.

Peter Brown and Geoff Garver's book Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy, is coming out soon. It contains a much more developed program that considers the developing world and the poor.

(I was on the Quaker committees that helped organize the book and I contributed some ideas and text.)

Maybe I'd better read Friedman's book, to see if he does know what he wants to do with the power he wants us to have before I judge him.

Hot, Flat and Crowded is the name of the book.

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