Environment

The link between global environmental degradation and human activities are well established. Humans have a long history of adapting their activities to conserve environmental resources. Historically, this was done at the scale of a field, but by the 20th Century the impacts of our activities, on the environment, were so pervasive that it became obvious solutions had to be implemented and coordinated at a national scale. Today it is obvious our activities have reached a level that solutions must be implemented and coordinated at a global scale. This is already occurring, but there are strong disagreements between nations on the way forward, and a large level of skepticism or ignorance, in much of the public, that these global environmental problems even exist. However, the biggest problem is the conflict between the effects our activities are having on the global environment, and the need to continue or even accelerate these activities to sustain and improve our own existence. Are we heading for a train wreck?

The answer may very well be yes! However, just as in the past our greatest asset is our own self interest. Unfortunately, the collective appreciation of our self interest, catching up with the collective understanding of our impact on the environment, may come to late. This was usually the case in the past, but when a farmer degraded a field there were usually other fields they could move to, allowing the degraded field to lay fallow, until its fertility improved. Even at a national scale, people could leave a country, that had mounting environmental problems, and move to one that had less. However, at the global scale this will not work. We do not have another planet to move too. The stakes will hopefully never reach that level, but the current and potential environmental losses are so great, that without question they warrant a great collective effort to reverse the tide.

Technology

The technological solutions of how we alter our activities, so they have less impact on the environment, are not always straight forward. There are still significant questions about many of the potential solutions ability to scale to levels where they can make a significant impact. Also some of the more obvious solutions, such as nuclear power, rely on traditional concepts of centralization and distribution, not to mention its catastrophic negative effects if gone awry, so they do not offer a true revolutionary approach, which may be required to resolve this scale of problems. The variety of problems are so great, we can not just think a handful of technological solutions will resolve the wide variety of negative effects humans are having on the global environment. Instead, we must see it as an opportunity, and think about solutions in a collective way that enable us to fundamentally change our activities, resulting in a true revolution in human behavior. Such an approach can not be planned in advance in detailed, but must evolve over time. However, we can set out guidelines, and develop regulations, that are more likely to lead us to effective approaches, and be open to adapting them when new technologies become available.

Politics

Broad definitions of politics, range from the practice and theory of influencing other people, to the total complexity of relations between people living in society, and the competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership. Commonly we think of it, at best, as activities associated with governance, but usually as something more closely related to a process similar to making sausage. In any case it is something we all have to deal with, whether you are involved with governance, business, academia or just at work gossiping around the coffee maker. Politics is the process we must use, to work together, to deal with problems from environmental degradation. It is how we will overcome our differences, and deal with corruption and manipulation, or it will lead to more of those things happening.