Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The future's bright ... if you have the resources

The global population is growing incredibly quickly, and the UN estimates it could reach nine billion by 2030. Kathryn Goodenough and Daren Gooddy argue that the geosciences are essential to making sure the world's population can support itself while minimising environmental damage. We rely on natural resources from the ground - aggregates for roads and buildings; oil and coal for transport and energy; rare metals for new technologies like electric vehicles and solar panels; and water, the basis of life on Earth. But what will we need in the future? And how will our needs change in response to developments in politics, technology and social and economic growth? How can we make sure our natural resources are used sustainably? To try to answer some of these questions, and understand the priorities for the geosciences in the future, BGS has put together a Science Futures Team. The team developed a set of four possible, contrasting future scenarios, based on two important variables: how fast the Earth system changes and whether nations are cooperating or competing. The scenarios are based on our current knowledge of the most important issues likely to affect people's lives over the next 20 to 30 years. To illustrate them, let's look at some graduate scientists of the future and see how their lives might look under each scenario. Read More

Contrails warm the world more than aviation emissions The innocuous white vapour trails that criss-cross the sky may not be as harmless as they look. In fact, they might have contributed to more global warming so far than all aircraft greenhouse gas emissions put together...