Despite Best Intentions

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending the RSA and “1970 Club” even where Sir Martin Holdgate CB gave the lecture on “The World Environment in 2070”.  This would be a difficult topic for most to give a credible story but Sir Martin did it with aplomb. I agreed with probably most that he said, but could quibble on a few important points but chose not to.  I was keen to ask a question and I had the unique opportunity to get my question in last.

It went something like: “Sir Martin, your presentation focused on the future in terms of basic science, engineering, technology, governance, and politics over the next 60 years leading to 2070.  In this upcoming window a multitude of key decisions will be made by mankind.  Looking back 60 years, in the spirit of lessons learned and learning from experience and to enable us to take better decisions now, take yourself back to 1950.  What decisions, with all best intentions, were taken by mankind in the ’50’s , ’60’s, and ’70’s that upon reflection were not necessarily the right thing to do?”

Sir Martin was taken aback by this question and was unable to answer it other than to say it was “profound”.  He promised to think about it over the evening.  He did and we had a chat after dinner.

Quite a few people came up to me and gave me their ideas.  At the time I could think of two decisions I think deserve consideration. What do you think? I’ll comment here in coming days.

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