The Human Future: Sir Crispin Tickell urges us to confront issues of our day


How do humans work with growing populations? Sir Crispin Tickell, advisory council member of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, explores this question in his lecture “The Human Future” which took place on April 11, 2013. This lecture, sponsored as part of the GIOS Wrigley Lecture Series, confronted the issues of adaptation to climate change, the economics of health and wealth, and most importantly, the way we think about sustainability in regards to the future of energy.

Sir Crispin explained that over time humans have grown ignorant to the consequences affecting our atmosphere, human health, food and energy sources, and overall environment as a result of human behavior. As population increases, it is inevitable that human activity will continue to have more of an impact on our future. Sir Crispin pointed out that the relationship between the rate of production and consumption correlates with the rate of climate change, shortage of food, new diseases, and unsustainable products. “Consumption may not continue,” said Sir Crispin. “We need to reach accommodations and hopefully restore some balance.”

To be sustainable is to expect the unexpected. Simply encouraging people to use less will not work as efficiently as encouraging them to think differently and plan for the future. One major problem of getting this information across is the lack of communication between media and scientists. Sir Crispin explains the importance of people staying responsibly informed and engaged with planning for the future of our world. Sir Crispin believes that by 2113, humans will practice ethical situations that allow the natural world to have its place.

Sir Crispin Tickell’s perception of the human future includes:

• Increased Communication and New Technologies—information will pass over the entire planet and transform the human relationship. Clean technologies will allow an easier way to adapt into a sustainable future.

• Focused Communities—the current obsession with growth and overuse will be directed into specialized local fields. Production of local crops, redesigned cities, and access to greater public transportation will keep communities closer together.

• Implementation of Clean Energy—clean energy will be decentralized and focused on benefitting the environment and human health.

Sir Crispin’s lecture can be connected to the way that we plan for our future energy sources. The quality of life for individuals and societies is affected by energy choices. Rethinking the way that we want to run our societies is the first step. By staying active in supporting local and state renewable energy policy and research development, the future of clean energy will be made more certain. Sir Crispin ended his lecture by asking the question, “How long will it take to renew our human impact?” The answer relies on us all.

Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks.

Photo by Gabrielle Olson, LightWorks.

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