Eco-IQ from Turkey 1

As a sustainable development professional and environmental science

professor focusing on how to help us reach our UN Millennium goals I

constantly reflect on the distinction between “techne” (knowledge that

is immutable, universal and transferable) and “metis” (knowledge that is

ever changing, intensely local and can't be replicated elsewhere). As a

National Geogaphic Explorer I confront the distinctions on a first hand

basis through my travel to as many as 10 different countries every year.

For example we don't all have the same access to sunlight, to wind, to

sources of heating or cooling, to fresh water, to wood and rock and

fertile soil. And we can't always rely on importation of vital resources

from outside. To create a sustainable situation we have to find solutions

based on what is available and reliable using our metis. But at the same

time our knowledge of the physical, chemical and biological constants of

nature enable us to take certain materials and environments anywhere

and create new technologies that can simplify our lives. The area where

techne and metis meet that I focus on is in the universals that we all

share as human beings. The fundamental one for me, besides my

observation that the same proportions of human kindness, curiosity,

compassion and genius are found everywhere, is that we all have food

waste and toilet waste, and we all have the good microbes that can

transform them into fuel and fertilizer. These constants have been

ignored as a fundamental solution to our problems and because of this

created terrible problems – diseases, pollution, deforestation, and loss of

soil fertility chief among them. But now that we know through our own

study and experience that organic wastes can be fairly easily transduced

into constant renewable energy and soil which can be used to cook,

light, heat, refrigerate, and generate electricity in quantities enough to

meet our baseline needs, I am a lot more confident that the other

solutions that depend on unique local characteristics and resources can

guarantee a high quality life for people anywhere.


You are giving lectures about energy, clean technologies, reducing environmental pollution

and saving methods. Your works in Cairo are really impressive. However, each country has

different conditions and most of the time; the one that works for a location is not convenient

for the other. In the context of these works, what do you think about the difference between

cultures and social structure of a society? Can you give us a couple of examples concerning

these differences?