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Today's Great Challenge

Stephen H. Schneider, climatologist
Stanford University

To me the greatest challenge is to find ways to convince a world of highly differentiated people (educationally and economically) with many suspicions to pull together and deal with global commons issues like biodiversity protection, climate change mitigation and sustainable global development. Finding a set of acceptable rules for protecting the commons and equitably increasing the standards of living of the poorer countries without immediately cheap—but long term dirty and dangerous—solutions is a great challenge. Having the developing world 'leapfrog' over the Victorian Industrial Revolution right to high technology (skip coal power and leapfrog to combined cycle natural gas power with co-generation or leapfrog over internal combustion engine cars to fuel cell-powered clean vehicles etc.) is essential, but finding politically acceptable incentives to achieve this plausible but politically difficult state will require enlightened leadership and an environmentally literate public. Both will be a major challenge.

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