36. International Centre for Earth Simulation
Over specialization in both the natural sciences and the socioeconomic sciences - and the lack of an integrated holistic view of our planet and its complex interwoven processes - has caused cascading multiple synchronous collapse across vast domains of society due to cross-connections that spread risk from one domain to the next. In the Tohoku earthquake March 2011, for example, we saw a subduction zone megathrust, tsunami, onshore destruction, nuclear damage, food contamination, supply chain disruption, political upheaval, and a global retake of nuclear safety. Cascading collapses were also experienced after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and during the Deepwater Horizon oilspill, respectively. In all, 200 years of scientific specialization has been valuable and no doubt will never cease, however at this point in time we need to re-integrate our approach to all of science and society, and put back the pieces together again!
Build an International Center for Earth Simulation for use by the entire planet. Integrate all of our sciences on a high performance computing platform - both natural sciences and socioeconomic sciences - using the latest modeling, simulation and visualization software to do this. Transform software that is currently available in the specialized areas with the latest software engineering tools to match the latest computing architectures and HPC computing clouds - aiming at the soon to be achieved exascale systems performance level. Develop new math, new languages and new sciences that tie the disciplines together, and that pass results between them. Also develop software to ingest the massive amounts of new data now available - from satellite & ground sensors to social media streams - adopting an open science approach, meaning open source, open data files, and open access publishing. Invoke 3D dynamic visualization as much as possible to upgrade citizenry interest in all aspects of planet Earth, and distribute to the public at large as much planetary knowledge as possible, online and in real-time. Engage all professional bodies in the effort, including government agencies: NASA, NOAA, USGS, DOE, EPA, DOD, etc, universities, and private industry, and embrace the citizen science movement worldwide. Make the program a not-for-profit public-private-partnership, and train a new generation of 'holistic' thinkers - individuals with a global outlook and a deep understanding of the links between the weather, climate, oceans, poles, continents, crust, core, atmosphere, biosphere and the overall human impact on the total system. Build a new curriculum around these issues and a new science ethic, especially to understand the evolutionary forces that brought us to where we are, and to help bridge the gap between scientific research, communication and public policy formation. Use fully interactive, immersive, mobile Internet-based tools to engage all levels of society, and to teach the value of a sustainable, resilient life style. Make this a global effort, and choose a neutral location as the starting point for the so-called 'metanode'. However, allow for local regional projects that can be networked into a global picture.
Why it should be recognized:
The world needs answers to many critical questions:
- future climate change, extreme weather, storms, floods, sea-level rise, heatwaves, droughts
- resource depletion, water security, food security, public health, disease
- earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, ash clouds, and lahars.
As the world's population grows from 7 billion to 10 billion in the 21st Century, larger cities will be created and more development of the coastal zones, flood plains and fault lines will obviously come about. What are the possible scenarios and how can we be sure of public safety? And if we deploy large scale geoengineering efforts, how can we be sure that there are no unintended consequences?
Since we only have one planet however, and not much room for experimentation in these matters, utilizing today's modeling, simulation and visualization tools at their highest level of sophistication, and invoking a global network of capabilities to bring all our knowledge to bear on the problem is the only viable approach to prevent serious disaster. We have the tools and we have the experts - but they are operating in a fragmented manner - now is the time to bring them together for the ultimate benefit and protection of the entire planet and its many life forms!