Nanotechnology for a Sustainable World

Nanotechnology for a Sustainable World

Global Artificial Photosynthesis as Nanotechnology’s Moral Culmination

Thomas Faunce

Does humanity have a moral obligation to emphasise nanotechnology’s role in addressing the critical public health and environmental problems of our age? This well crafted book explores this idea by analysing the prospects for a macroscience nanotechnology-for-environmental sustainability project in areas such as food, water and energy supply, medicine, healthcare, peace and security. Developing and applying an innovative science-based view of natural law underpinning a global social contract, it considers some of the key scientific and governance challenges such a global project may face.

Chapter 9: Nanotechnology’s Moral Culmination: A Global Artificial Photosynthesis Project

Thomas Faunce

Subjects: innovation and technology, technology and ict, law - academic, health law


A photon of light travels 150 million kilometres to reach the earth’s surface in about eight minutes Yet it takes a plant seconds to capture its energy, process it and store it in a chemical bond … Photosynthesis: the plant miracle that daily gives us bread and wine, the oxygen we breathe, and simply sustains all life as we know it. – David Beerling, The Emerald Planet There will be just bare awareness paired with its preoccupation in the present. This is something with no sense of ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ – a condition whose features are peculiar to the mind itself. It is as if everything has undergone a revolution. – Ven. Ajahn Thate, The Autobiography of a Forest Monk 9.1 GLOBAL ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS: OUR GREAT SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGE In 2010 I visited Namibia for a workshop about the development of African components to the UNESCO global bioethics and health law database. After the meeting, I drove my wife and son around the country in a four-wheel drive. Amongst the interesting areas we visited was Zebra River Canyon. Here you are able to view ancient fossil stromatolites (some of the earliest photosynthetic organisms) and see, in open fields, Stone Age hand tools in the same positions in which they were made or discarded. During our stay at Zebra River I was reading Frank Wilczek’s The Lightness of Being (about how the subatomic world can be viewed as light governed by the laws of quantum physics). At night we watched shooting stars rain over a landscape...

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