Sunday, April 27, 2008

Strategic planning

Below is the fundamental argument I made to myself long before reading Paul Hawken's book, that made me choose my position regarding global warming even if, as a scientist in an Earth science, oceanography, I know too well that the models that are used to predict climate have too coarse resolutions and sometimes questionable parameterizations of the unresolved processes:

"From a strategic point of view, the choice is clear. Whenever you are faced with two different paths, each with its uncertainties and unknowns, the cardinal rule in strategic planning is to take the path that allows you to shift to the other path should your initial decision prove wrong. As futurist Peter Schwartz advises in his book The Art of the Long View, choose the option that gives you the most options in the future. Even granting status-quo defenders their argument that we know too little about global warming to warrant changing from a hydrocarbon- to a solar-based economy, even granting them their dream that technology will come up with ingenious ways to solve many of the problems with the innate toxicity of hydrocarbons, maintaining the present course is a mistake.
If we continue on the same path and find out forty, fifty, or one hundred years from now that the scientific projections about global warming were correct, it may be too late to mount an effective counter-strategy. On the other hand, if we choose to make the transition to an economy that runs on perpetual solar income and we later find out the CO2 buildup was less a problem than anticipated, we are still ahead on every count. We have eliminated hundreds of billions of tons of pollution from the air, ground, and water, and improved health worldwide. We have engendered a myriad of new, safer, and friendlier technologies to replace those deposed. We have not poisoned the planet or our bodies with the toxins produced in a hydrocarbon-based economy. We have created hundreds of thousands of new companies and many more jobs than we lost, while moving toward a world whose work and money are infused with meaning and vision, toward a just and constructive future. Plus we will still have all of the coal and oil that we didn't burn up, extending the life of current reserves far into the future of humankind."

Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce. A Declaration of Sustainability. (Chapter "Pink salmon and green fees").

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I recently discussed with a scientist working at IFP (petrol french institute)

main issue is
- there are plenty of clean tech today
- each time a cool inventor develop a new one the media appologize
- there is no way to store energy in a more efficient way than oil (power/mass)
- energy storage is not very sexy topic for media

As such lot of people think that there is a kind of secret plot against clean tech

Well in fact the most promising idea seems H2 fuel cells. But it is not today ready for large scale deployment

Let's hope that is will be ready sooner to avoid irreverible dammages