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Mike Treder, director of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, has offered up an entry to the "Citizen's Briefing Book" section of Obama's Change.org website. In "Advanced Nanotechnology - What, When, Why" Mike argues that an investment in the development of molecular manufacturing should be seen as part of a larger strategy for dealing with global climate disruption. He lays out a series of suggestions that confront issues around both disruptive technological change and disruptive climate change head-on.

Set aside an equivalent amount of funding to study the implications of advanced nanotechnology, and to develop and ultimately implement comprehensive strategies for maximizing safety, security, and responsible use on a cooperative international basis.

Prepare for disaster mitigation. Given that time is rapidly growing shorter for us to slow global warming before irreversible carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, it is essential that we begin preparing soon for the likely impacts of climate change. [...] We may have a decade or two to make ready for what's coming -- how well we use that time to prevent and/or alleviate suffering of our fellow humans (and other species) will show just how humane we truly are.

I'm often frustrated by people who blithely dismiss crises like global warming with the suggestion that some fantastic future technology will solve our problem, so we don't need to worry now. That's not what Mike argues here -- he's clear that while a nanotech-based solution to global warming would be wonderful to see, we can't depend on it. We need to act now, but be ready to take responsible advantage of new tools as they emerge.

The Change.org site allows registered visitors to vote up (and vote down) on the myriad proposals weaving their way through the system. It takes just a moment to register, and I would encourage you to do so -- and to give Mike's proposal your thumbs-up.


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