Nope, we’re not going to hell in a handcart

By Peter Kerr 12/04/2012 7


The refreshingly upbeat Mark Stevenson breezed through Wellington just before Easter, giving his take on why the world’s NOT going to hell in a handcart.

The author of ‘An optimist’s tour of the future’, Stevenson’s been accused by some of having rose tinted glasses.

‘But we should have an unashamed optimism about the future,’ says the British-based writer, comic and scientist. In his book, he mentions some of the work being carried out by Blenheim-based Aquaflow as well as Carbonscape.

He gave numerous examples of humans taking better control of the planet’s biology.

The cost of genetic mapping is outstripping Moore’s Law by a factor of four he says. Mapping an individual’s entire genetic sequence currently costs $3000, but will soon be $1.

Stevenson also argues that the world doesn’t have an energy crisis. ‘We have an energy conversion crisis,’ he says. In 20-30 years time, the cost of solar energy should make it an utterly acceptable option.

One thing he is worried about is whether institutions are that good at innovation.

At that level, ‘we have become terrified of making mistakes,’ he says. ‘But, if we’re not prepared to make mistakes, we’ll never come up with something original.’

Increasingly Stevenson believes that individuals will be defined, ‘not by what you own, but by what you create.’

Biotechnology and nanotechnology are currently where information technology was in 1965, and in that regard, ‘the future is up for grabs.’

‘The future could be better, it is up to us and individuals to do it. Our future will be defined by the values we choose.’

As an aside, Stevenson pointed out grasslands in Australia and South America, where side by side across a fence, one side was bare, the other a thriving pasture.

The ‘technology’?

Rotational grazing.

The result, sustainable food production and carbon sequestered in soils.

Stevenson says some of the world’s pension funds are among the greatest investors in fencing — which is how to manage rotational grazing.

In effect, New Zealand invented this technology. No one has named it, the opportunity still exists. sticK’s argued this case before….see the story here.

Somewhat interestingly, even though Stevenson’s been to New Zealand a number of times, no one has previously pointed out to him that this is the basis of our country’s comparative advantage. He appeared somewhat surprised to find this was the case.


7 Responses to “Nope, we’re not going to hell in a handcart”

  • I am an optimist, I see energy as not being a problem at all in the future. With all the ground braking work done by forward thinking people in regard to the cracking of the power in water. Explanations are few and far between in theory and people seem to get stuck on the second law of thermodynamics, but practically there have been monumental advances. In the fields of cavitation, Sonoluminescence, cold fusion, fuel cells as well as the inert gas plasma engine and radiant electricity. I am absolutely positive that there is no crisis and I just wish that the kids of this country will be taught about some of these advancements.

  • Electrickiwi, do you also use the ‘nym ‘Derek Syme’? I ask because what you’ve written here is very similar to some of what Derek’s said, & it’s poor net etiquette to use more than one pseudonym when posting on a particular site.

  • If you go through it you will see that you can buy a 1MW generator for $1.5Million. Today you can order it and it will take 4 months to ship.