We can only hope that our kids understand the implications behind the projected growth in our urban population. The expectation that it may double to 6.4 million in 2050 will have grotesque ramifications for future generations. As we continue to consume, exploit and waste our natural resources, we are giving less thought to the future that we deprive our kids of and to whether they are equipped with the right mindset to address these challenges. Our children's future will rely on a multidisciplinary approach to the quintessential challenges of our cities promoted by our built environments, scarcity of natural resources, and extreme population growth.
Creating Reservoirs of Ecosystem Services
Last summer, for 53 days the Lower East Side was inhabited by the BMW Guggenheim Lab, an exhibit and live public think tank, which addressed the challenges and opportunities related to open green spaces, urban sprawl, smart transportation, and other amazing initiatives that often are subtly discussed but concern city dwellers. As cities begin to swell, the built environment in which most of our society will live will need to incorporate an unprecedented amount of functionality and collaboration. Each space will need to be evaluated on its purpose, design, integration of the natural habitat, sustainability and ability to aid in a city's overall resilience. For example, by simply planting trees throughout our cities we can restore both monetary and environmental benefits including reduction of storm water runoff and flooding, improvement of soil and water quality, preservation of native ecotypes and reduction of summer air and water temperatures. City councils are beginning to acknowledge and incorporate the value behind these initiatives into their sustainability planning and its inherent impact to economic development.
Using the Convergence of Technology and Energy to Address Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Unfortunately, we cannot rely alone on the production of renewable energy to address climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. With the U.S.'s lagging interest on levying a carbon tax or creating other policies to lessen the cost of capital to fund renewable energy enterprises, the commercialization and funding climate may only become more challenging. However, enterprises in this space and our next leaders in this industry need to realize that the way to achieve larger milestones and quicker results will be to partner. Partner with your competitors, your suppliers, your stakeholders, and your downstream channel resellers. The more opportunities you can find to unlock value through partnerships, the easier it will be to access capital and have your potential partners and clients help fund your next innovation. Additionally, you will in turn develop a business model that will have the strategic agility and risk resilience necessary to survive this trying business environment. At Re-Nuble, we have realized the tremendous potential that energy efficiency technologies such as energy management software enable. The data captured by these modules can serve as windows of opportunities and provide a better understanding of the operational inefficiencies within energy harvesting and preservation.
Developing Technology That Changes Living Standards, Not Preferences
I highly doubt that Angry Birds or Facebook will be able to help us mitigate our pressing six constraints that I believe we'll face:
- Demographic Shifts;
- Stagnant Educational Attainment;
- Rising Income Equality;
- Globalization and Information Technology;
- Energy and Environment;
- Massive Household and Governmental Debt
However, if we train our kids and equip them with the right tools to stimulate their innovation and ingenuity we may be able to ebb these challenges. In order to do that, we must strengthen our community's hands on curriculum and engagement to incorporate the importance of creating solutions that change our systems. No longer can we think about the impact of ourselves on society. We must always consider the impact of our decisions on our community, our investors, our stakeholders, our environment, and our future generations.