Role of science crucial to earth’s future

VITAL INVESTMENT: Science, technology and innovation important to counter threat to environment and world growth.

THOSE who follow the discourse on climate change must have heard of the Kyoto Protocol. It was supposed to have been the instrument to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and arrest global warming. What a pity. Pledges made on reduction targets were not all delivered. Only a few countries ratified the Protocol.

This year is the last for the Protocol. Will there be a new agreement signed? It is still unclear. The recent Rio+20 meeting held in Brazil was also inconclusive. Meanwhile, global emissions continue to rise, raising concern among many that unless new measures are implemented soon, the consequences can be grave. Some say climate change may even be irreversible.

Since 2004, the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum is convened every October in the city of Kyoto, Japan. Conceived by Japan’s former minister of finance, the STS Forum has attracted many world leaders. They stay for three days to propose the next step for science in resolving the many problems of society. Participants include not only scientists but also political leaders, industry captains, economists as well as leading administrators of universities and governments and the media.

This year, the STS Forum took place for the ninth time from Oct 7 to 9 in Kyoto. An estimated 1,000 leaders from 96 countries came. They eventually issued a common statement.

They warned that the growing threat to the environment may soon reach a tipping point. We need science, technology and innovation (STI) to counter such threats to world growth. Despite current difficult economic and social conditions, it would be foolish for the world to play down investments in STI. Take energy, for example. The Forum is adamant that any future supply should consider all options, provided they adhere to the best safety and environmental standards. Of course they have to be socially compatible as well. No doubt, different countries may choose different paths to be energy-secure. In fact, despite the Fukushima watershed, all agreed that nuclear energy will continue to play a significant role for the foreseeable future. They urged countries to reconsider nuclear energy as an option.

by Dr. Ibrahim Ahmad.

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