Why resilience – not technology – is the answer to our biggest challenges

Climate fires and hurricanes collide in this shocking NASA satellite image

Three satellite maps from Sept. 14 (top), 15 and 16 show the gargantuan smoke plume from the West Coast wildfires brushing past hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and East Coast. In the middle image (Sept. 15), Hurricane Paulette blocks the smoke from traveling further east over the Atlantic ocean. (Image credit: Joshua Stevens/ NASA)

Smoke meets cyclones in a jarring new series of satellite images posted to NASA’s Earth Observatory website.

In the images, which combine recent observations of the United States taken by several different NASA satellites from Sept. 14 to 16, orange-tinted smoke from an immense series of wildfires on the West Coast sails clean across the country to collide with tropical cyclones on the other side.

One image, from Sept. 15, shows the two weather catastrophes directly interacting, as churning winds from Hurricane Paulette literally block wildfire smoke in the upper atmosphere from flowing further into the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, Hurricane Sally — bearing down on the Gulf Coast at the time…

Industry urged to commercialise in bid to build scale and resilience

Industries will gain more federal help to commercialise new products and expand their scale under a budget plan that offers more assistance but rules out a return to direct subsidies.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews named scale and resilience as the key challenges facing local manufacturers ahead of a federal strategy that aims to fix the flaws exposed by the coronavirus crisis.

Ms Andrews said business leaders and university researchers would have to work more closely to commercialise ideas after years of “missed opportunities” in turning Australian ideas into exports.

“We are not as good at commercialising good ideas as we need to be, so there is room for significant improvement,” Ms Andrews said in an interview.

“There will be a cost involved in that but that is not a cost that that we should contemplate maintaining for the future…

Why resilience – not technology – is the answer to our biggest challenges

Over the past couple of decades, the world has become enamoured with the transformative power of technology, and the belief that it can be the panacea for all human challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended this narrative, however. In spite of all the hype, digital technology could not prevent nor control the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, sound policy interventions, accessible healthcare, devoted professionals and good common sense are what have flattened curves. The technology that controlled the infection wasn’t a fancy contact tracing app, but instead the simple face mask.

The tech scene has been buzzing for a few years about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a supposed technological transformation characterised by big data, artificial intelligence and automation.

But the last thing the world needs is another ‘revolution’ that ignores the external cost to society of our unchecked obsession with economic growth at all cost. Technology won’t solve the climate crisis, prevent the recurring wildfires in the US, heal social divides or resolve social inequality. Only a concerted effort to reset our economic systems and a willingness to make hard choices about priorities will do that…

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