Thursday, January 22, 2009

Potsdam and universalism

Another dark grey winter morning in Sweden. I take my new thin netbook down to Fröken Olssons and resume the writing of my Crafoord application. Given the collapsing financial markets it is perhaps unlikely that the Crafoord Foundation will give out much money at all this year, but if nothing else, writing about my research is in itself a good structuring exercise, to straighten out my priorities for the remaining 1.5 years, and to decide what conferences I will try to attend before handing in my dissertation.

As mentioned in the previous post, Potsdam in September is on that list, there will be a panel on climate change and cosmopolitanism, and it sounds like a good place to present a paper on the role of innovation in planetary solidarity. Yesterday, I put together a short abstract along those lines:

Anthropogenic climate change has proven to be a difficult case for the otherwise much cherished “polluter pays principle”. Not only is it impossible to make earlier generations pay for their emissions but also many contemporaries may claim excusable ignorance (not knowing that emitting green house gases was harmful) or argue that their historically low emissions now give them a right to “catch up”.

Sophistic as such arguments may sound, they should not come as a surprise given the prevailing pollution paradigm and the associated view that climate change mitigation is a burden and a hinder to economic development.

Taking the contrary view that avoiding dangerous climate change can be a transformative opportunity and that, albeit initially costly, investments in breakthrough technologies may open paths to rapid global growth, this paper explores the potential role of “bright-green” innovation in shaping a cosmopolitan alternative to existing views on climate change mitigation.

Returning to the Americas, the International Herald Tribune reprinted Obama’s inaugural address in its entirety. Though I am the first to admit my bias and my inclination to read what I want to hear, I cannot resist quoting this wonderful Star-Trekian passage:

”We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall some day pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself.”



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