The Technological Timeline and Science Education

In this brief profile of the Czech-Canadian academic Vaclav Smil–dubbed as Bill Gates’ tutor–we are treated to his thoughts on “the main things we should be worrying about (or not)” from his latest book and his opinion on science education and the maturation timeline of new technologies:

[Vaclav Smil] is (almost) resigned to the fact that our great debates about energy and the environment are largely pointless, because they are hugely distorted by politics and sadly uninformed by basic facts. We are a culture of scientific ignoramuses. […]

“We are structurally cooked,” he recently explained. “Every new technology takes 40 to 50 years before it captures the bulk of the market. […] That’s why “we’re going to be a fossil-fuel society for decades to come.” […]

As someone who was rigorously schooled in all the sciences, he regrets people’s widespread ignorance of science, technology and basic economics. As he told energy writer Robert Bryce, “Without any physical, chemical, and biological fundamentals, and with equally poor understanding of basic economic forces, it is no wonder that people will believe anything.”