Monday, December 29, 2008

Convergence of Crisis

For sometime now there was an item lingering on my to-do-list and finally have decided to get it done. I wanted to open a blog to share the ideas which are being talked within the environment, technology and entrepreneurship community to a much larger audience. I want to share that the fundamental design of our society has become unsustainable. Our food productions, water resource, energy, materials among others are so completely disconnected from our surroundings that have led to what we are facing today, a planetary crisis. Above all I want to share that it is still possible to design a sustainable society through our technology and entrepreneurial skills.

 We have created a global civilization by our intellectual brilliance & tenacity, a mind which has evolved to reflect back on ourselves; a mind which has the ability to peer into our DNA; a mind which was able to discover quantum physics explore outer space, but beyond our phenomenal intellectual and technological advances we would see large scale destruction of our home – Planet Earth. Our biosphere has become sick; it’s now behaving like an infected organism. Earth’s life support is damaged with large scale species extinctions. There were 5 mass extinctions before and as unbelievable as it may sound the 6th mass extinction is in progress - a human induced mass extinction, with 30000 to 50000 species going extinct every year.

 Why is this mass extinction occurring now? For a vast majority of our human history we have lived of current sunlight. That is sun light falls on plants, plant grows and animals feed on plants and we feed on animals and plants. We were living of current sunlight; they were our food and clothes. The problem started when we began to discover pockets of ancient sun light and started using it to design our society. This has also caused rapid increase in our population, in 1800 the global population was 1bn; we reached 2bn in 1930, 3bn in 1960 and 6bn in 2000. We were able to sustain such exponential growth because this ancient sunlight allowed us to grow food in such large quantities through machines made of steel, fabricated in foundries built using cement. Our present day growth is subsidized by this ancient sunlight and so when we are buying a product, we are not paying the true cost for this ancient sunlight which was involved in making the product. All of these have accelerated our disconnection with nature and is causing an extensive damage to the climate and all other natural systems. Since we share a symbiotic relationship with life on planet, any damage to the ecosystem will cause a catastrophic damage to us.

 We have silently created a crisis of epic proportion. UN estimates by 2050 there will be 150 million refugees at any point of time due to rapid drying up rivers alone (Compared to 14 million now due to war and all other causes). NASA predicts that Katrina scale storm will be very frequent. 80% of our top soil is already under serious degradation raising the risk of severe loss in agriculture productivity. Cancers, Autisms, Asthma etc are much more frequent now than ever before. Large scale increase in the price of fossil fuels, food and other natural resources.

 We are now experiencing a Convergence of crisis – because every living system in the biosphere is in crisis and there is no one peer reviewed article (IPCC) which contradicts that. But all of these could be solvable and that too rapidly solvable. In my subsequent posts I will share with you my optimism stemming from the gutsy entrepreneurs and technologists who are lining up to fight this battle.