Reporting Back from the Aspen Ideas Festival

I was lucky enough to spend the other weekend in idyllic Aspen for the Aspen Ideas Festival. It was an opportunity to look bigger picture at the trends, technologies, and ideas that will shape our future and affect our work at Pisces. Since so few people are able to attend what feels like a relatively intimate gathering, I did want to share some of the questions and ideas I saw during my two days there. (This is just reporting back; no endorsement is implied here.)

  • — David Leonhardt, managing editor of the Upshot at the New York Times, asked why the U.S. economy has been stagnant for the last 15 years, through two very different U.S. Administrations. What’s the underlying cause?
  • — Terraform had a number of outside-the-box solutions for urban sustainability, including cars modeled after sheep, plants for rooftops that creates drinking water from rainwater, and using old Navy ships to grow a wetland to protect poor neighborhoods in New York from storm surges.
  • — Data will be the largest asset class in the future, bigger even than fossil fuel.
  • — Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized the importance of development, institution building, and creating hope for young populations in countries with fragile or relatively new governments. He went on to say that the military cannot be the only response to terrorism.
  • — Toyota is piloting an ultra- compact EV’s car share program in Grenoble, France and plans to cell a hydrogen fuel-cell car in the U.S.

As one of the opening speakers joked, “It’s not the Aspen Good Ideas Festival, it’s just the Aspen Ideas Festival.” I am curious to see what happens with these ideas and the many more discussed and debated there.

 

About Jennifer Kurz

Jennifer Kurz is the Climate and Energy Program Officer for the Pisces Foundation. She has worked for over 15 years on environmental and international development policy.
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