Airdate: Oct 18, 2006
Scientist: Mathis Wackernagel, PHD
Ecological Footprint: The Role of Technology
Technology can help meet the challenge of ecological recovery.
ambience: stream, birds
Ecologists say that we're using up the planet's resources faster than nature can replace them. But with world's population rising each year, how can we avoid destroying the very natural systems we need to survive? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
"What we know is that today we use more than what nature can regenerate. Thatâ€™s only possible for some time. For how long is hard to say, but as long as we use more, we are depleting the natural capital - we're liquidating our most essential assets."
It's a situation scientists call "ecological overshoot, " and one solution may lie in technology. Dr. Mathis Wachernagel directs the Sustainability Program for the public policy group Redefining Progress.
"We need to recruit as good technology as we can get in order to move out of overshoot. We need that technology that helps us to reduce our footprint. And probably weâ€™ve never had better technology. Weâ€™ve never had better windmills, weâ€™ve never had smoother bicycles. Weâ€™ve never had better insulation for houses. Weâ€™ve never had better photovoltaic cells. So we have incredible technologies at our hands, and the point is to employ them. It doesnâ€™t mean we always have to reduce, reduce, reduce. There is a certain capacity that the planet provides. The danger is to live beyond the planetâ€™s capacity."
We'll hear more about ecological overshoot in future programs. If you'd like to hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.