5th December seminar: Oxford Martin School “Now for the long term” Lord Martin Rees and Sir John Beddington spoke around facts and projections contained in a publication of the same title. http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/commission/Oxford_Martin_Now_for_the_Long_Term.pdf
Having looked at the state of play and the academic projections out to 2050, Rees espoused the following ideas. Global solutions are needed [but perhaps instituted by new bodies, not just the UN], Equality is the main solution, anything which should add to sustainability must be good, whatever we do now should not in effect be paid for by our great grandchildren.
Besides the political inputs he also noted that it is the developed world that is most vulnerable to a sudden loss of capacity in IT. He thought that investment in resilience measures would be justifiable. He suggested some sort of global watchdog that could help protect the more dependent.
By 2050 in Asia and Africa there will be significant reductions in poverty, increases in the middle class and considerable doubt that food, water and energy supplies would be able to keep pace with these.
There is a 20 year time lag between what we put into the atmosphere and manifest changes in the global climate.
In debate, it emerged that the UN is structured in such a way that decisions are very unlikely, and that democracy disables long term planning to some extent.
The only non linear loss mechanism noted was the possible sudden loss of IT capacity. IT has been a great success precisely because it is adaptable. Its not certain that a global IT threat intervention authority would offer the solution to contagious loss of resilience. It may even be the cause of it.
Centralised authority seemed to be the default preference for these two speakers. Perhaps as a member of the House of Lords and as the former chief scientist this is a result of living in such an environment. Market solutions were not much hoped for.