What do you mean, “save the planet”?
We’re in serious trouble — for a short rundown, read this. It sounds pompous, but “saving the planet” is a convenient shorthand for tackling the complex set of environmental and technological problems we face today, such as:
If you believe some of these problems are important, and you want to solve them, we can use your help.
How can scientists and engineers help save the planet?
Many of the problems we face are fundamentally political in nature. But the world can’t wait for politicians to take action. There are lots of things scientists and engineers can do now, such as:
- Develop better sustainable energy sources, possibly including biofuels, geothermal power,hydropower, nuclear power, solar power, wind power, and wave and tidal power. What are their relative merits? How can we speed their deployment to reduce carbon emissions and beat the day ofpeak oil?
- Develop carbon sequestration? technologies such as carbon capture and storage and biochar. What are their relative merits? How can we speed their deployment?
- Study geoengineering technologies to control global warming, perhaps after global warming has reached dangerous proportions and before the above safer strategies have matured. How helpful or dangerous are ocean fertilization, stratospheric sulfate aerosols?, cloud reflectivity enhancement?,cloud seeding or space sunshades??
- Develop methods to preserve biodiversity and prevent extinction. How can we better understandecosystems and catalogue species?. How can we combat deforestation, ocean acidification and dead zones, and preserve genomes of endangered species??
- Educate the public — and for academics, our students. Explain the science clearly. Explain the alternatives.
How will the Azimuth Project help?
The projects listed above are just a few of the many that are already underway. How will the Azimuth Project help? We’ll catalyze these efforts by making it easier for scientists and engineers to tackle environmental problems. We want it to be easy for them to:
- see the overall structure of the environmental problems we face
- access detailed information on all these problems
- learn about open questions
- find good projects to work on
- find the people who are working on them
- find relevant technical information
- discuss ideas with people in many different fields
- compare the merits of different strategies.
So, our goal is not to replace or compete with existing sources of information, but provide a synoptic view—a bird’s-eye view—of the information that exists. Specialists already know the facts in their own speciality. We want to make it easy for any scientist or engineer to understand the whole problem of saving the planet, and understand specialist literature in many subjects. After all, saving the planet is perhaps the ultimate interdisciplinary problem.