By David Monsma
I’ve always said the Aspen Environment Forum is not a “conference.” This, our fourth Environment Forum with our good friends at National Geographic, has become a conversation — one that we hope you will join. It’s a conversation that is no longer limited to experts from business, NGOs, science, or government. And it’s one centered around the two most complex systems on Earth: our growing human society and the natural world, which is under tremendous stress.
One day in the next eight to 12 months, you will become one of seven billion people on the planet. That fact alone raises all kinds of interesting questions: Is this sustainable? How do we feed everyone? Or provide enough energy? It is these questions, and more, that we invite you to explore in-depth with an impressive array of people we think can point the way to some compelling answers.
Like you, each of this year’s AEF speakers has a different background and a unique perspective. Some of these are well-known names in the environmental community — and others are rising stars, unlikely advocates, or gifted thinkers. You may not have heard of everyone — but that’s the point! We’re bringing together the exactly right people to answer these tough questions, and we want you to meet them and get your own questions answered. Check out video from last year's Environment Forum.
For the fourth year, the Aspen Institute and National Geographic will immerse you in a rich exchange with an astonishing group of thought-provoking guides on hike through the future. We’re going to start off the Forum with a panel examining how we balance our human society with the natural world, or not. Thomas Lovejoy, Stewart Brand, and Bill Mckibben will talk with Terry Garcia from National Geographic and Joel Achenbach from the Washington Post about our ability and capacity to recover from environmental calamities on opening night. This is a prime example of the big questions we want to tackle: To what extent is preparedness merely a matter of investing resources and to what extent does it require changing mindsets — of learning to expect rather than be surprised by large naturally destructive events?
Watch this video about our soon-to-be population of seven billion —