Meetings: Program and Events
15-19 February • San Francisco
Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being
The extraordinary intellectual smorgasbord of the AAAS Annual Meeting makes it the year's most important gathering for the growing segment of the science and technology community interested in the interactions among disciplines and in the influence of science and technology on the human condition. While the aim of advancing science and technology is already, in itself, a strong motivator of the interdisciplinary thrust of the AAAS Annual Meeting, the character of the challenges to the human condition creates even more powerful incentives to exploit the interdisciplinary approaches that are the AAAS hallmark. Among those challenges…
- An appalling fraction of the 6.4 billion people on the planet continue to lack adequate nutrition, clean water, and the energy they need to meet their most basic needs.
- HIV is running rampant, most out of control precisely where people are poorest, and the defenses of populations everywhere against other natural or manmade pandemics are perilously thin.
- The great global reservoirs of biodiversity — tropical forests and coral reefs — are in peril from a combination of overexploitation, rapid climate change, and other anthropogenic assaults.
- Weather-related disasters — floods, droughts, wildfires, and “hundred-year" storms — multiply before our eyes, while many of the most powerful governments and corporations cling to their “wait-and-see" stance on whether regulation of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is required.
- The economic and security challenges of overdependence of the world's energy system on petroleum continue to receive more lip service than serious policy responses, in industrial and developing nations alike.
- The United States and Russia still maintain enough nuclear firepower on short-reaction-time alert to destroy both countries and much of the rest of civilization; reserve the right of first use of nuclear weapons, even against adversaries who do not possess them; and wonder why nuclear proliferation seems too hard to contain.
- And the intelligent use of science and technology to help dry up the wellsprings of terrorism remains an even more underdeveloped endeavor than the uses of science and technology to build our defenses against terrorist attack.
While the reality of these problems has been growing ever more apparent, the gaps have been widening between what is needed to address the dangers and what is actually in place. The need to close these gaps plays precisely to the strengths and priorities of the AAAS. No other organization is better positioned to rise to this challenge.
For this reason, the AAAS Program Committee has chosen “Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being" as the theme for the 2007 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The achievement of sustainable well-being depends heavily on economic, sociopolitical, and environmental conditions and processes, and on their interconnections. Progress needs to be thought of in terms of improving the human condition in all of these dimensions — environmental, sociopolitical, and cultural as well as economic — and sustainability should be thought of as making these improvements in ways and to end points that are consistent with maintaining the improvements indefinitely.
This is a challenge not just for developing countries—where large proportions of the population still lack the most basic ingredients of material and social well-being—but also for the industrialized ones—where many of the practices that support the levels of material well-being already achieved are not sustainable in resource and environmental terms and where widening gaps between rich and poor within countries, and fraying social safety nets, threaten sociopolitical sustainability as well.