Thomas Homer-Dixon: The Upside of Down

On Monday night, prior to going to OLA, I had the opportunity to hear Thomas Homer-Dixon speak about his new book, The Upside of Down at the Bookshelf e-Bar in Guelph.
 
 
Homer-Dixon did an excellent job of laying out the challenges facing the world such as climate change, peak oil, population growth, and global security. The spotlight fell on solutions to these problems in the following question-answer session. Some of the global solutions were interesting (develop Canadian technology to sequester carbon dioxide and sell it to the Chinese), but, with at least three city councillors present, there were some vocal cries for answers as to what we can start doing tomorrow here in Guelph.
 
Insulate your home, reduce your use of cars, and switch to alternate energy sources (such as provided by Guelph’s local BullfrogPower)– these were some of the suggestions. Homer-Dixon even discussed his own carbon trading program where he pays into a system for his use of carbon (driving, flying, etc.). The money goes to programs that reduce carbon dioxide, and he has an incentive to switch to energy sources that are not linked to climate change.
 
Overall, the book discussion was an excellent though-provoking event that I think spurred many people to investigate Homer-Dixon’s ideas further. I felt I had a gained a broader perspective on a number of the problems– and I think I can now tell when political and business leaders are speaking knowledgeably. In the meantime, this was a good primer for the session I will be convening on Thursday at OLA: Green Computing, presented by Gillian Maurice, the Sustainability Coordinator at the University of Guelph.
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