12 February, 2007
With the latest IPCC report behind us, there seems to be little doubt that the scientific debate is over and that it is now up to political, business and NGO leaders to come up with real actions instead of slogans.
But do they already understand how radical the needed reforms will be and if they do, will they have the courage to tell their constituencies?
New technologies will be able to provide part of the answer but global research budgets on climate and energy technologies are still far behind what will really be needed to tackle the double challenge of global warming and energy security.
Moreover, technologies alone will not be enough. The leaders of the industrial economies will have to tell their citizens that economic sacrifice will be needed if we allow the new economic tigers like China and India to develop along the lines of our prosperity levels. This will not be a popular message and the increasing backlash against globalisation is just in its infancy phase.
We will need new visionaries instead of incremental engineeers, we will need a redefinition of prosperity, competitiveness and economic growth which takes into consideration that the world is one inter-related whole instead of a myriad of national interests.
The new vision will have to start from one overwhelming reality: that our economies are subject to ecological constraints that can not be overcome in the long run. A new vision of global prosperity will have to start from the question: what can this Spacehip Earth sustain?And this question touches on issues such as population, energy use as well as global social equality.
One more warning: let’s not make the mistake of forbidding all critical voices on climate change, because the climate change sceptics have made life difficult for climate change fighters in the past. Science thrives on scepticism, not on censure.Author : Willy De Backer