Ecology as a science needs to understand innovation
Ecology – is it an immature science?
If you have watched the controversy netween Paul Gilding and Peter Diamandis at TED.com you might have come to the conclusion that approaching the big question of our future survival and wellbeing cannot be accomplished in a scientific framework, the contrahents seem to be stuck in a clash of believe systems.
Why is this? Because most of the ecological research is still underscoring the “human factor”. But don’t researchers talk a lot about the anthropogenic factors? Yes, but they do it in a static way, neglecting the dynamics that comes with disruptive innovations.
Radical systemic change – or perish! The need for a kind of
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a “technological optimist”, who thinks, that we can ignore the alarming headlines and we can just lean back, since we will have cold fusion in some years to solve all energy and scarcity problems. Another vision would be, that we will soon have miraculous “synthetic organism” solving any thinkable waste problems.
No, we cannot rely on those promises, in the contrary – technology innovation alone will not solve the problems. We need more socio-cultural innovation to realize the urgent and painful radical systemic change.
I have written about the scenario logic of the ecological singularity and I even claimed that “Eco-Singularity is the top issue of our time” (here). Actually there are solution concepts – contrasting with the two extremes of the naive eco-apocalyptic stance or the also naive believe in hypertech solutions. The first one underscores the gamechanging role of innovation, the second one is narrowing the innovation issue to the technological realm alone. Typically the techcentric approach is neglecting also the economical system framework, let alone the ecological, the planetary boundaries. How can we find a new balance with our limited ressources, when hyperproduction, hyperconsumption and a unhealthy financial system are systematically cursing us to shred our ecosystems?
Gilding and Diamandis are both right and wrong
The technological optimist Diamandis has to understand the severe crisis and the limits of “technological salvation”. The ecologist Gilding has to integrate innovation more radically.
The technological optimist Diamandis has to understand the severe crisis and the limits of “tech salvation”. The ecologist Gilding has to integrate innovation more radically.
It woutd be encouraging if we can see the entanglement of both “cultures” in the soon future.
Update 2012-05-16 – The text has been completely reworked. Graphics had been added.