Bioneers 2008: Opening Speech by Kenny Ausubel


Photo via Bioneers

The opening speeches of Bioneers set the tone for the entire conference.

We've been acting like a rock star trashing a hotel room, and it's the morning after.

Kenny Ausubel reminded us with this opening line that we have some serious reckoning to do, but, luckily, we can do it with a sense of humor, hope, and fun.

Read on for highlights of the speech.

We've already begun to trigger what some ecologists call "regime shift," irreversible tipping points. Global warming is getting all the ink, but other intimately interdependent issues equal its magnitude: the mass extinction of 30-50% of Earth's biological and cultural diversity - freshwater shortages that will lead to wars - the universal poisoning of the biosphere - and the greatest extremes of inequality in modern history, a world that's 77% poor.

We're going to be busier than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Ausubel underscored that we have the power to do this right now, even though we're all pretty worried about our retirement accounts and kids' college tuitions.

Just as economics is driving the destruction, it needs to power the restoration. The charge is to transform the global economy from a vicious cycle to a virtuous cycle. Restoration is an estimated $100 trillion market.

There's plenty of work to do, plenty of people to do it, and abundant financial incentive. And every dollar we spend on pre-disaster risk management will prevent seven dollars in later losses.

He also reminded us of a major element of the technology shifts it will take to make the necessary changes. Biomimicry.

At the forefront is biomimicry, the art and science of mimicking nature's design genius. As Janine Benyus observes, nature has already done everything we want to do, without mining the past or mortgaging the future. There's nothing like having four billion years of R&D; at your back.

A riptide of capital is mainstreaming biomimicry and clean tech, now the third largest domain of venture capital investment. In Silicon Valley, the "watt.com" era has dawned. Compared with $100 billion for the entire Internet market, the worldwide energy market is $6 trillion. Google just put forth a $4.4 trillion Clean Energy plan. By 2030, it proposes to slash fossil fuel use by 88% and CO2 emissions by 95%.

Very exciting tech advances are on the way. Also on the way are more posts about Janine Benyus, biomimicry, and other cool tech here at Bioneers 2008.

More on Bioneers 2008:
Bioneers 2008: Familiar Faces - Interface Carpets, WiserEarth, Nepalese Paper and More
Bioneers 2008: Mark Sommer Creates Educasts for Mobile Learning
Bioneers 2008: Opening Speech by Kenny Ausubel
Bioneers 2008: Nature and Technology Joining Forces
Bioneers 2008: A Green Conference Standard
Bioneers 2008: Solar-Powered Water Fountain a Great DIY Project

Tags: Activism | Biomimicry | Green Jobs