Scientific Visualisation Can Save the Planet: Foresman

Athar Parvaiz

Capturing the visualization technology and reprogramming the brain for innovation would not only help saving the planet from impacts of climate change, but would also make fortunes of the world’s population whose wisdom hasn’t been tapped effectively,  says Tim Foresman, former chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme and the man behind Google Earth.

Foresman made a special presentation on “Scientific Visualization as Prerequisites for Policy and Action” during the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS), 2015 which concluded on February 7 in New Delhi.  He said that the climate change has created complexities for the economy where “books have to be rewritten because they are wrong.”

But he added that this process carries dividends as well:  “Our young friends should recognise that they can make a fortune by saving the planet. This is a floodgate to success [to be driven by scientific visualization]!”

He agreed that there was much to handle “as we are overwhelmed by the things, but if we grab the right technologies and focus on visualizing on top issues,” we can hand over a better world to our children.

Stressing the need for tapping the wisdom of people, Foresman pointed out: “Citizens are our army of data. We get new tools to make them supermen. So use these new tools and tap into the local energy of citizens.”

According to him, life-style behaviours by 7.2 billion people is an issue to be visualized to articulate its impacts and interactions. “What is trade versus environment; what is construction versus resource-extraction and how is tourism getting impacted by a positive green area,” he said adding these can be quite powerful pictures.

He said that technological innovations like Algore’s digital earth vision, the technology that led to Google Earth, can help engaging the people. “Now we can look at our global commons: from any place on the planet, I can look at any place on the planet using my phone.”

In earlier sessions, some other speakers including the IPCC chairman, Rajendra Pachauri had also reflected on the inherent opportunities being presented by climate change. “We need to recognize that mitigation of climate change has many co-benefits like those on human health and employment generation,” Pachauri said during a session.

Suresh Prabu, the Indian Railway minister said that addressing the issue of climate change has presented the opportunity of job-creation.  “The shelf-life of the old jobs is expiring; so work for new jobs in a new economy,” he said.

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