A Joint Division of the Institution of Civil Engineers and
the South African Institution of Civil Engineering

Are We Too Smart for our Own Good? Technology and Sustainability - Wednesday 11 August 2010

Wed, 2010-08-11 00:00 -- superadmin


Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership






Are We "Too Smart for our Own Good?"
Technology and Sustainability






Wednesday 11 August 2010



18:00 - 19:30



MTN Group Auditorium, Phase 2 Building, MTN Innovation Centre
216 14th Avenue, Fairlands, Roodepoort



R230 *

It is undeniable that technology, from electricity to motor vehicles to mobile phones, has delivered wonderful advancements for humanity and potentially holds the key to solve many of our sustainability challenges. But it is mankind’s inability to appropriately deal with technology or our often unwavering belief in its benefits that has led to many of the sustainability challenges in the first place. The recent BP oil spill has some fascinating lessons for us in this regard.

In his recent book, “Too Smart for our Own Good” (2010), Dr Craig Dilworth argues that from earliest times humans have bumped up against one environmental constraint after another. Yet we are a smart species and typically have used technology to wriggle free of the constraint. Having wriggled free and relieved the pressure we continue expanding our numbers and our economic activity, unaware that at the same time each technological advance tends to bring in further requirements for energy and additional ecological problems. A little further down the track we once again overshoot and find ourselves backed into another ecological corner. Dilworth calls this “the vicious circle principle”. His contention is that since humanity has used up such a large proportion of the available ecological space on Earth there remains very little opportunity for us to continue along this ever-expanding, technology-driven cyclical pathway.

The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership invites you to join us for what promises to be a fascinating panel discussion as we look at the fundamental promise of technology and its potential ‘shadow’ side:




Peter Willis


Southern African Director, Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership

Anthony Fitzhenry


Founder, Axiz Technology and Qhubeka bicycle project

MTN Executive



Polly Courtice (LVO) - Panel Chair


Director, Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership

This event is kindly supported by MTN.

* The event is free for Forum members


Booking is essential. To book and pay, please click here



Sent on behalf of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership by the Joint Civils Division