Saturday, February 19, 2011: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
140B (Washington Convention Center )If a "culture of growth" is unsustainable, what should change? The meeting theme, “science without borders,” recognizes the seamlessness of the knowledge applicable to dealing with the complexity of problems facing an increasingly integrated planet. We are part of a social system built on the notion that growth can (and must) be maintained. Many think this idea now threatens the integrity of the biosphere. At a very minimum, a society needs food, water, shelter, clothing, and a socio-political system that can reliably and fairly deliver them. The Earth provides the basic materials, and the job of science and technology is to devise ways of extracting and using these materials sustainably. This job requires us to accept that continual growth in a finite system is impossible. Starting from this premise, what might we do to minimize, if not eliminate, the threat of unsustainability? What kind of science and technology is needed? What present cultural characteristics -- behaviors that are valued and rewarded -- are most incompatible with sustainability and therefore define the problems that society should prioritize? Where are the roadblocks? Addressing and evaluating this set of questions is crucial to realizing the prospect of a successful future. It requires insights from basic science of the planet, ecological planning and design, understanding of global economic systems, and moral direction. That discussion will be the focus of this symposium.
Paul H. Reitan, University at Buffalo
Ward Chesworth, University of Guelph