The following is a guest post by Marie Arana, co-director of the Library of Congress National Book Festival.
Can the planet sustain humankind in its current race to feed and house a burgeoning population? Can it survive the explosions in industry, mining and construction that are bound to accompany that race?
In a groundbreaking conversation between two giants in the fields of biology and the economy, the National Book Festival’s Science Pavilion will present ideas that are sure to be talked about for years to come. E.O. Wilson is the Darwin of our time–a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of numerous books on earthly life, from insects to homo sapiens. Among his works are “The Social Conquest of Earth,” “The Diversity of Life,” “Letters to a Young Scientist” and, most recently, “The Meaning of Human Existence.” Jeffrey D. Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. His books– “The End of Poverty,” “The Price of Civilization,” and, most recently, “The Age of Sustainable Development,” just to name a few–are known throughout the world.
I asked John Hessler, the very astute and accomplished moderator of this discussion as well as curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress, for his comments and insights on this upcoming event. Here is what he had to say:
JH: We live in a time of what I call convergence. Today, across the humanities and the sciences, from artificial intelligence and robotics, to neuroscience, economics, medicine and ecology, thinkers and scholars have increasingly come to realize, as many visionaries in past eras had, that we as human beings do not live in separate societies and isolated communities, but rather exist embedded in a common social and natural world that we share across the globe.
This awareness of our interconnected future and destiny, along with the increasingly global nature of our economies has led, in many scientific and philosophical circles, to a rethinking of what it means to be human as we enter the 21st century. The environment, climate change, poverty, sustainability and the future of our planet have become not simply local or national issues, but global concerns that require new ways of thinking and, more importantly, acting.
I hope you’ll want to join me in engaging these important thinkers in a conversation on these and other questions that will define the quality of human life across the planet in coming years. E.O. Wilson and Jeffrey Sachs have thought deeply about these matters. They have written extensively about our inescapable human embeddedness in the social and natural worlds and they have much to say about what we can do to ensure our future and that of generations to come.
Come hear Wilson and Sachs from 2:35 to 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5, in the Science Pavilion of the National Book Festival, Room 147, Walter E. Washington Convention Center.