Has the train left the station?

Got this bit of good cheer via email today:

From: Resources for the Future [mailto:listmanager@rff.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:15 AM
Subject: RFF Event: Responding to Ecological Loss: The Promise and Limits of Ingenuity

Responding to Ecological Loss: The Promise and Limits of Ingenuity

A discussion co-hosted by RFF’s Center for the Management of
Ecological Wealth (CMEW) and the National Science Foundation’s
Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

Monday, May 6, 2013

9:30 a.m – 12:30 p.m.

First Floor Conference Room, 1616 P Street NW

Marine biologists predict the collapse of harvested seafood species by 2050. But do we really need those species? With melting sea ice and thawing permafrost, polar bears may only exist in captivity by the end of the century. But do we really need wild populations? While these questions may be ethically discomforting, they are intended to trigger additional questions: Can we “substitute” our way out of ecological problems and losses? Are there limits to ingenuity?

In the past, innovation has alleviated many of the problems associated with “limits to growth” (examples include innovations in food production and mineral extraction). But for issues such as biodiversity and deforestation the picture is less optimistic. And although innovation can often address natural resource limits, what are the ultimate social, economic, and environmental effects of these innovations? This conversation has philosophical and psychological dimensions as well. Are there substitutes for wilderness, wildness, and natural beauty? What about whooping cranes, giant pandas, or freshwater dolphins? As we lose our connection with nature, do we lose advocates for nature? Humans may adapt to a loss of natural beauty and time outdoors. Will this come with physical, emotional, and psychological costs?

When are innovation and ingenuity likely to help solve ecological problems? What can we do to spur that ingenuity? Can the answers to these questions help us to better target natural resource investments? In asking these questions, can we better understand the aspects of nature that are invaluable and irreplaceable?

We have assembled a distinguished and diverse group of historians, ecologists, economists, psychologists, and entrepreneurs to elaborate on these questions and to begin to develop some answers.

Susan Clayton, Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology, College of Wooster

Geoffrey Heal, Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School

Peter Kahn, Professor of Psychology and Director of the HINTS Lab, University of Washington

Joel Mokyr, Professor of Economics and History, Northwestern University

Bill Shireman, President and CEO of Future 500


Mark Tercek, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Nature Conservancy

Tracy Mehan, Principal, Cadmus Group; former assistant administrator for water, EPA

The event will be moderated by James Boyd, who co-directs RFF’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth and directs the social science and policy program at NSF’s new synthesis center. The agenda is available below.

Registration is required.
To RSVP for this event, please visit RFF’s event registration page .

This event will also be webcast live beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Have a question for the panel while watching the live webcast?

Simply tweet your question of fewer than 140 characters and include the hashtag #AskRFF.

Watch during the Q&A to see if it is selected.

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