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
“eco-political holism”
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.

Innovation matrix - holistic innovation concept

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.

About these ads

About WS

foresight expert, technology analyst, strategy consultant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: