Reflections are only that, reflections, nothing more nothing less. Often these reflections are related to books I read, but occasionally also other things. These are often written very late, very fast,  using notes from my mobile phone, so the grammar and spelling is horrible.



From the Silk Road to the stars (Article)

Below is an article published in China Watch. The original article can be found here

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By Dennis Pamlin | 中国日报网 | Updated: 2019-01-24 10:17

With its successful Jan. 3 moon landing -- the first ever on the “dark side of the moon” -- China helped humanity take another step toward becoming a space-faring civilization.

In the world we live in, the successful moon landing was unfortunately not only celebrated, but was seen by many from a confrontational perspective. US President Donald Trump has already declared that he wants to create a new “Space Force” by 2020. The plan is to make that space force the sixth branch of the military. Without leadership, space could become the next major conflict zone and any space activity seen as a provocation by competing forces.

With many global challenges, we can and should not waste resources on a military space race. Current weapon technology means the consequences of a future space war could also be fatal for humanity. At the same time, it is obvious that the resources for military expansion into space would be much better used if they were invested for peaceful purposes -- as well as addressing urgent global challenges such as world poverty, growing inequity and the accelerating ecological collapse due to biodiversity loss and climate change.

With the successful moon landing, China now has the attention of the world and thereby an opportunity to help shape the direction of global space exploration. A new direction for space exploration could also help set a new standard for global collaboration. Clarifying that the space exploration should be peaceful is a good first step. However, the current situation provides us with a unique opportunity and China should consider establishing a three-pronged approach to sustainable space exploration that would be integrated into an eco-civilization agenda.

First, a new set of global goals for space exploration should be presented. The international Space Station (ISS) where the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada collaborate, has demonstrated that international space collaboration is possible. A global action plan to develop the technology to prevent future asteroid impacts through the capacity to detect, track and deflect asteroids could be one of humanity’s greatest collaborative achievements, which would reduce one of the main long-term threats to human civilization. China could also propose a global approach to the first human settlement on Mars, and help ensure that the settlement is built on sustainable technologies. These initiatives should be science driven with total transparency and a research agenda where people all around can collaborate.

Second, the excellent work by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, which demonstrates the benefits of space exploration for global sustainability, should be accelerated. China could challenge all countries and companies active in space exploration to make relevant solutions for key global challenges available for free. An even stronger link between space exploration and global sustainability would help strengthen peaceful collaboration.

Third, it is time to integrate global infrastructure development on earth with peaceful space exploration. The establishment of the first permanent colony beyond Earth is within reach. This generation could be the first one to experience how we as Homo Sapiens became a space-faring species. A long-term plan for equitable and sustainable space exploration is an important part of such a journey.

By exploring how all major infrastructure investments on earth can help accelerate and guide space exploration in a sustainable direction, we can ensure that space becomes a shared project that is about increased benefits and knowledge for all. Technology development on Earth and in space should support each other so that they can help us move beyond our destructive industrial civilization and focus on the transition to a global eco civilization.

As the largest infrastructure project on the planet the Belt and Road Initiative could lead the way by integrating not just traditional sustainability goals, but also by helping develop and deliver on sustainability goals for an emerging space civilization.

We already see leading thinkers arrange events such as UN Industrial Development Organizations’ “BRIDGE for Cities - Belt and Road Initiative: Developing Green Economies for Cities”. During the BRIDGE event in 2018, links between the Belt and Road Initiative, space exploration and sustainability were discussed with representatives from both China and Europe. Hopefully, we will see more meetings in 2019 at which a peaceful space agenda can be discussed in the context of global sustainability goals.

It will take some time getting used to thinking of humanity as a space civilization. However, many of the children born today will be alive 2100 and by then, we will most certainly be a space civilization. The question is: What kind of civilization will that be? Let us do what we can so that those alive in 2100 will be able to look will back at 2019 as the year when, despite many conflicts and problems, the world took the first significant steps towards a spaced based eco-civilization.

Dennis Pamlin is a senior adviser at the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE). The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

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Global Citizenship in Reality: The 2017 Climathon as a Transformative Event (Keynote)

The 2017 Climathon the 27th of October was a very interesting event. It is not often you see large groups of people, in this case participants from more than 100 cities come together and only focus on solutions to a global challenge, climate change. Most initiatives are still national and often lose the global perspective. The few international gatherings that take place tend to bring policy makers and business that try to do as little as possible, where governments look after the short-term interest of their countries (or their own re-election) and companies focus on the next quarterly earnings report.   

This Climathon was such an interesting event and I can't help but wondering if this is how a new generation of global citizens are born. The people participating think global and then begin to implement local with the aim of providing global solutions (through export and/or networking). I hope it is not long until such an approach is the default approach to global challenges. I actually think we will look back in ten years and wonder why not many more events like this were organised, not realising that doing events like this still require a significant amount of social capital ( you can't just throw money out and expect results like this, you need the right kind of group with the right kind of network). 

My guess is that we will see some very interesting results coming out of processes like this. The reason for this guess is that when you reach a certain threshold (as you do when 100 plus cities all over the world are included) you almost always see disruptive results, not always directly, but though unforseen consequeneses of the critical mass that has been created. 

Perhaps we should to distinguish between international political events (bringing countries together that look after themselves), international business events (when companies come together with the aim to find ways to make money) and global events, where people come together as global citizens? We need international policy and business events, but more than anything I think we need global events. 

I will do what i can to support these kind of processes and ensure that the people participating connect globally and find new opportunities for collaboration, but also that the ideas that are developed during events like this are given a chance to be implemented. Hopefully we will also see more tools that allow for collaboration, especially for the teams, but also for us who had the opportunity to present some of our ideas and perspective. It would been fantastic with a global Q&A session. 

Link to the Climate KIC page for the event

Video of my presentation during the event (not sure how long the link will work)

 

CASS Forum, Guangyuan, Sichuan Province: Ecological Civilization (Keynote)

The CASS forum June 13th and 14th 2017 was a very interesting event in many ways, but for me especially from an "ecological civilization" perspective. From its beginning as a general concept we can now see how "ecological civilization" is beginning to take shape as a concrete concept that can have concrete implications. I discussed the possibility to use the concept to guide the development of two projects I'm working on now (Global Trend Assessment and a Zero-Carbon Business Opportunity Assessment).

I was very impressed by the political leadership and a number of very interesting companies that I had the opportunity to meet. To have everything from smart city planning and Li-Io battery manufacturers to sustainable lifestyle entrepreneurs made the city very diverse. It's an honor to be asked to support accelerated export of the kind of solutions that can contribute to an ecological civilization from such a city.   

The fact that Guangyuan is the "feminist capital" of China made the event and meetings even more interesting.

PDF with the PPT for my Keynote

The agenda