Humans should seek sustainable development instead of over-milking the environment and establish an international structure that seeks welfare for all humanity, former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) told a press conference yesterday held in honor of his election as the next president of the International Council of Science (ICSU).
The ICSU is a scientific nongovernmental organization with a global membership of 116 states.
“The ICSU was founded in 1931 and has a mission of enhancing international scientific activities and promoting social welfare for humanity,” Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) said.
Lee’s election was a big step for Taiwan in terms of scientific diplomacy, Wong said.
Besides being an outstanding scientist, Lee has also devoted his time to humanitarian issues, Wong said.
Wong said that following his inauguration Lee was sure to work for sustainable development, reducing climate change, promoting public health and fighting poverty.
“Though I hesitated about entering the election … I have some dreams and expectations [for scientists],” Lee said.
“This is a big honor and a big responsibility,” Lee said, thanking a number of academics for their support and help in his election campaign.
Lee said that he had graduated from high school with two aspirations: to become a good scientist and to build a good society with like-minded people.
As the president-elect of ICSU starting in 2011, Lee told the audience that he had two thoughts to share.
“One, in the 20th century, humans passed a threshold in energy consumption and [some countries] have become overdeveloped. I do not believe in the direction in which ‘developed countries’ lead ‘underdeveloped’ ones to develop. There are only countries that are overdeveloped and countries that haven’t been overdeveloped,” Lee said.
“Secondly, globalization is only half-complete. Though governments in individual countries collect taxes and resolve national problems, we do not have [an effective] platform for the collaboration of nations to handle world problems,” he said.
“When people still suffer from unemployment, hunger, health problems and poverty, society will not be safe,” Lee said.
“[The problem could be resolved] through education in which people’s level of scientific knowledge is improved,” Lee said, when answering a question about how scientists should close the gap between the high expectations that scientists have for society and the expectations of the public.
“Since [many] research projects are supported by tax dollars, if our dreams are not supported by the public, they will not be realized,” Lee said.
“The existence of a gap would reflect a failure to explain [our findings] to the public,” Lee said.