Cooperación tecnológica

A principios de febrero, la Academia Nacional de Ingeniería de Estados Unidos publicó un informe sobre los “Grandes retos para la ingeniería en el siglo XXI”. Su objetivo es centrar la atención en el potencial de la tecnología para ayudar al mundo a encarar la pobreza y las amenazas ambientales. Esta lista incluye innovaciones potenciales como la energía solar de bajo costo, la eliminación segura del CO2 de las plantas de energía, la fusión nuclear, nuevas tecnologías educativas y el control de los efectos secundarios ambientales de los fertilizantes nitrogenados. El informe, similar a la lista de la Fundación Gates sobre “Grandes retos” en materia de salud global, resalta una nueva prioridad mundial: promover tecnologías avanzadas para el desarrollo sostenible.

Estamos acostumbrados a pensar sobre la cooperación global en campos como la política monetaria, el control de enfermedades o la proliferación de las armas nucleares. No estamos tan acostumbrados a pensar en la cooperación global para la promoción de nuevas tecnologías como la energía limpia, una vacuna contra la malaria o cultivos resistentes a las sequías para ayudar a los campesinos pobres de África. En gran medida, consideramos que las nuevas tecnologías son algo que deben desarrollar las empresas para el mercado, y no oportunidades para resolver problemas globales.

Sin embargo, dadas las enormes presiones globales a las que nos enfrentamos, incluyendo las grandes desigualdades en los ingresos y el inmenso daño ambiental, debemos encontrar nuevas soluciones tecnológicas a nuestros problemas. Por ejemplo, no hay manera de seguir ampliando el uso global de la energía en forma segura a menos que cambiemos drásticamente nuestra forma de producir electricidad, de propulsar nuestros automóviles y de calentar y enfriar nuestros edificios. Recurrir al carbón, el gas natural y el petróleo sin pensar en las emisiones de CO2, como lo hacemos actualmente, es sencillamente demasiado peligroso porque está provocando cambios climáticos que propagarán enfermedades, destruirán cultivos, producirán más sequías e inundaciones y tal vez elevarán espectacularmente el nivel del mar, inundando así las zonas costeras.

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