Posted on August 12, 2009 1:45 AM
Photo "Cloud Front Moving East Over Chicago" by Flickr user phototravel1.
by Gerald D. Skoning, IHC Board Member
8/12/09[Mr. Skoning is a Chicago lawyer and member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Humanities Council. His post comes to the GO TO 2040 blog as a part of our ongoing guest blogger series.]
Over the past year, the Illinois Humanities Council has been examining the past, present, and future of our relationship to oil and water through its series All-Consuming: Conversations on Oil and Water
. While we have not yet come to terms with the world's dwindling supply of oil, many experts predict water will be our next resource to become scarce. And for many developing nations, as well as wide areas of the western U.S. and elsewhere in our country, it already has. The increasing scarcity of these essential resources calls for public education, conversation, and reflection. As with many complex and controversial issues, the humanities can bring fresh and unique perspectives to the discussion.
In examining the issues of abundance and scarcity of oil and water, the humanities encourage us to examine a wide variety of complex questions vital to our future. Some of the previous programs in the series have examined such questions as:
- How does the access to and control of oil and water shape the past, current, and future geopolitical environment?
- How can we understand the changes that are unfolding and how do we think about national and international policies as they relate to oil and water resources?
- What does it mean to "own" a natural resource? What are the responsibilities of stewardship?
- What are the ethics of oil and water? Are we fated to see a future where oil and water are indeed scarce commodities? Can individual choices make a difference?
The next program in the series, “Not a Drop to Spare: Oil and Water Scarcity in Popular Culture” is scheduled for Thursday, August 13 at 6:00 PM at Columbia College. It will address resource scarcity as it has been portrayed in the popular culture as a common feature in post-apocalyptic scenarios. How has scarcity of water or oil resources been depicted in films and television programs such as Mad Max, Waterworld, and many others. What do these depictions tell us about our concerns about these resources? How do they reflect the times in which they were produced? The panel will review clips from various films and discuss Hollywood’s take on resource scarcity.
We encourage you to come to this program, and we also hope you will keep learning about these issues on our online resource section and keep talking about them on our online discussion board. The challenges posed by scarcity of resources cannot be solved overnight, but through reflection and conversation, we can achieve ethical, equitable solutions to these problems.
As you’re thinking about resource scarcity, be sure to visit CMAP’s online regional water supply study. They are currently writing Northeastern Illinois’s first comprehensive water supply plan, and this study provides crucial information about water demand from 2005 to 2050.
Founded in 1973, the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is a 501(c)3 organization that promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by citizens of Illinois, particularly those whose economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location limits their access to the humanities. Statewide conversations like these have become the hallmarks of IHC programming and have received rave reviews from audience participants and scientists and scholars as both speaker and planners.