Get a group of scientists together to discuss issues of worldwide consequence, and one topic -- human-caused climate change -- is likely to emerge as the most prominent.
Last week, I participated in a symposium on "Nanotechnology Governance: Environmental Management from a Global Perspective" at Vanderbilt University. Between speakers, a common point of discussion was the dire need for solutions to counteract global warming; a common conclusion was that the only technology that may offer more than stopgap measures is advanced generation nanotechnology -- especially molecular manufacturing.
Meanwhile, the bad news continues to pile up:
- Melting of Floating Ice Will Raise Sea Level
- Open Water in Summer Key to Declining Arctic Ice
- Snows Of Kilimanjaro Disappearing, Glacial Ice Loss Increasing
An Inconvenient Truth is the name of a new documentary film opening this week. Here is what Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig says about it:
On Wednesday, May 24, in select theaters in New York and LA, a film by Davis Guggenheim about Al Gore’s global warming slide-show will open. I have seen the slide-show. It is — by far — the most extraordinary lecture I have ever seen anyone give about anything. And I’ve now seen the film, An Inconvenient Truth, twice.
I will rarely ask favors of those who read here. But this is one. No issue is as important. I doubt you will ever see an argument as compelling. And though this is a beautiful and passionate film, it is, in the end, an argument that gets built upon the ethic that guides at least some conversation in places like this — facts, reason and a bit of persuasion.
I've already reserved my ticket for opening night. I'll be interested to see whether nanotechnology is identified as an important component of a meaningful solution to this enormous problem.