Saturday, March 5, 2011

Aikido for a Sustainable Environment: Our Gift to Planet Earth?

Dr.William Halal in his book, Technology's Promise writes of a forecast describing challenges in transitioning a consumption-oriented, global society to one that manages sustainability for survival (p. 17-30).

Halal references Russell Ackoff (1919-2009), a pioneer of management science, as defining a constellation of interrelated problems like this a mess... (p. 18). It was an honor for me to meet Dr. Ackoff in 2004 at a systems thinking conference held in Philadelphia. His life's work was evident in his peers. The environment was not the primary focus of the venue, rather the focus was on interrelationships whether illustrated in game theory or funding government innovation and research.

The environmental forecasts summarized in Technology's Promise include many that now dominate our news channels thanks to the political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. The forecasts came from input given from experts contributing to TechCast LLC, a virtual think tank for which Dr. Halal is the CEO.
  • Alternative Energy
  • Desalination
  • Distributed Power
  • Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Global Warming
  • Green Business
  • Organic Farming
  • Precision Farming
Among the contenders within alternative energy are wind, solar, fission (not fusion), biomass (such as ethanol), conservation, and innovation such as using solar satellites. Halal suggests that the potential for the emerging green industry calls for a Green Manhattan Project.

Considering the advances in nanotechnology and a globally networked society, I wonder if geothermal energy should be the focus of a Green Manhattan Project. Materials are improving and costs are decreasing for production. From an astronomical perspective, I suspect the probability that other galactic societies have mastered geothermal energy is likely.

Dr. Michio Kaku writes about the work of Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev who created a scale of civilizations based on energy management using physics and thermodynamics. For Earth to achieve an upgrade from a class 0 to a class I civilization, we must harness the sustainable energy of the planet including geothermal energy. As Halal suggests, managing the transition to a sustainable environment for our global environment is necessary for survival. In my view, mastering geothermal energy, is necessary for Earth to achieve interplanetary and galactic travel. What is our fortune?