The pressure is mounting to change our lifestyle. We humans have not taken good care of nature. Global heating, plastic littering everywhere, insect decline, nutritional diseases because of bad diets and risks of pandemics like the corona crisis. But unexpected friends come to our rescue: modern science and technology. With innovations that take up and copy nature’s strength and do not act against her. Waltzing with nature. Like in a dance. A new lifestyle.
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At face value, technology seems just an instrument for comfort and luxury: motor car, washing machine, refrigerator, central heating. But technology can also solve real problems and fundamentally change society: antibiotics, the computer, the green revolution that saved the world from starvation.
Technology can also be the instrument to tackle our new urgent problems. Innovations in the service of a new balance between nature, culture and the economy. Solar and wind power, modern biotechnological-chemical industry, precision agriculture and artificial intelligence. Our recent insights into nature will greatly help us fulfilling this task. We learn to imitate nature instead of putting a brake on it. We look into nature’s processes in order to discover how smart she is. In agriculture and horticulture, we use less and less poison but redress nature using devices of her own. Industry increasingly makes use of natural processes, that require little energy and leave hardly any waste. Using solar and wind power is moving with nature. A new lifestyle emerges, in harmony with her. This is a revolution, and we witness just the beginning.
Often it takes quite some time for humanity to really tackle our problems. It seems as if we need a disaster to happen first. But then, we can move mountains and explore new territory. Fifty years ago, the Limits to Growth report issued a strong warning for disaster through pollution and food shortages. Now solar energy is in full development; chemical industry cleans up its business fast and world food production is at a sufficient level to feed a growing global population. Mankind has taken to heart the warning. We can now do the same with global warming, plastic pollution, resistance to pesticides and herbicides and unexpected threats to public health. But faster. And in symbiosis with nature.
Our new technologies need to receive support and recognition. From public opinion; and through government support. Our mentality should change and our lifestyle; and our structures as well. Incumbent interests that maintain that ‘things are not as bad as they look like’ should be put on hold. Scientific research, the source of new technologies, should come to the forefront. And all this together: from more and better fundamental research to innovations and investments, and to regulation that protects them. For regulation without new technologies is without any joy: driving less, using less plastics. And technologies without new regulation are toothless.
It is exciting to shape this new relationship to nature. A relationship in which mankind doesn’t have the upper hand anymore; but in which we accept to be a partner in this system that transcends us, nature as such. We can do so in our private lives through more respect for nature. And we can pave the way for this new technology, inspired by nature and above all in cooperation with nature. We can do the right thing. With renewed enthusiasm.
We are convinced that mankind can overcome our new problems. With intelligence, confidence and adaptability. And by waltzing with nature: showing more respect for this eternal partner.