Friday, September 18, 2009

Happiness and the Pursuit of Energy

r234906_943939 Now, here’s the thing: if you go to a conference about some topic in your field, you’re likely to eat some bad food, catch up with colleagues you never liked and end up with a bag full of plastic from various widget vendors.

So cynical. Listen and you might well also hear some ideas that charm you, some statements that surprise you.

At the 2009 Scientific Forum in Vienna, we heard this from Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA, which sponsors the forum:

This year we have chosen a timely topic: without energy there is no development, and development is life.

Well, that’s not bad – poetic, in fact, a distillation of a truth. Still, it struck us as rather an odd if highly appealing utterance. Then, there’s this:

In his presentation, Ashok Khosla, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), introduced the concept of Gross National Happiness, which underlies a fundamental shift in the approach to economic development.

And this:

The Forum’s opening session concluded with a presentation by Abeeku Brew-Hammond, Professor at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Chairman of the Ghana Energy Commission, explaining a multi-track, innovative approach to addressing the technological and sociological aspects of the energy issue.

Hmm – still not bad, with a notably, shall we say, holistic bent. What about this Scientific Forum?

The two-day Scientific Forum, which is organized by the IAEA, coincides with its annual General Conference. Each year, the Scientific Forum concentrates on a different topic.

This year’s participants and speakers will be focusing on the lack of access to modern energy services in many parts of the world and debating whether energy access is the missing Millennium Development Goal.

We may dive deeper into this a little later – we expect the dish gets deeper as the poetry goes prose.

But for now, and on a Friday, we rather like leaving you with a bunch of nuclear scientists talking about happiness and millennial goals, sociology mixed with technology and poetic utterances from the outgoing IAEA chief.

Here’s some links, though: The Millennial Development Goal, Gross National Happiness (via IUCN, where Khosla works – this is derived from the Bhutanese idea); and hey, how about the Scientific Forum itself? Lots of links there for the presentations and other events.

Happiness – among the Bhutanese.

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