Talking Green

Second Ring Road
Trying to avoid looking at the traffic
1150 hrs.

Thomas Malthus once told us that as a race we are doomed because the planet could not grow enough food to support our exploding numbers. He was right, of course, until a sequence of changes in the way food is grown, produced, packaged, and distributed altered the equation. Malthus was, in effect, trumped by technology.

We now face a dilemma that echoes Malthus’ fear. What climate change implies is that as a race we are doomed because the planet cannot support the lifestyles to which we aspire. Just as Malthus challenged us to chose between reproduction and our future, today’s climatologists and other scientists challenge us to choose between the way we live and the well-being of the human race and the planet.

These are not choices we want to make.

The promise of green technology is that we will not have to make those choices – not right away, at least, and perhaps never. Six billion people will be able to live – if not like late 20th Century Americans, at least a lot better than they live today, all without sacrificing the future of the planet, of our race, and of our families.

It’s a huge ask. And nowhere is there a greater need for greentech to live up to its promise than right here in China. It is here, after all, where the innovations are likely to have their largest market. And it is China’s manufacturing capacity and surfeit of engineering headcount where many of the world’s green products are likely to be produced.

All of which serves to make the Greentech: A Call To Action conference organized by The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and The Asia Society on September 7-8 probably THE single most important gabfest of the year in China (apart from the National People’s Congress, of course.)

Yes, the lineup of speakers is stellar. Yes, the topics are lean-forward-in-your -seat compelling.

But if you are like me, you don’t really go to conferences for what’s on the program. You go for the conversation, for the discussions that take place in between, during, and around the sessions. The Shanghai Chamber’s greentech forum looks unusually attractive in this regard, and I’m petitioning The Party Secretary for permission and funding to go.

Personally, I’m still in the middle of a long-term dissection of greentech, it’s promise, its realities, and where the interesting stuff is really happening. Once I start getting a comfortable handle on it all (in other words, once I’m reasonably sure I will not be talking out of my backside when I have something to say), I’ll be posting more.
In the meantime, take a moment to look at the website for the Shanghai event, and if you are in town, make it a point to go.