Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The End of Ingenuity

[29 November 2006 - New York Times - Opinion] ... Without a doubt, mankind can find ways to push back these constraints on global growth with market-driven innovation on energy supply, efficient use of energy and pollution cleanup. But we probably can't push them back indefinitely, because our species' capacity to innovate, and to deliver the fruits of that innovation when and where they're needed, isn't infinite. Sometimes even the best scientific minds can't crack a technical problem quickly (take, for instance, the painfully slow evolution of battery technology in recent decades), sometimes market prices give entrepreneurs poor price signals (gasoline today is still far too cheap to encourage quick innovation in fuel-efficient vehicles) and, most important, sometimes there just isn't the political will to back the institutional and technological changes needed. We can see glaring examples of such failures of innovation even in the United States - home to the world's most dynamic economy. ... But in the larger sense, we really need to start thinking hard about how our societies - especially those that are already very rich - can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth. More

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