Innovation and International Affairs

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| 2012|
| Dallas - INTA 2040Elyse Showalter
|

[Innovation and International Affairs]|
There exists a cyclic relationship between scientific/technological innovation and international affairs that helps to drive the global economy, as well as ensure a continued need for global policies, international cooperation, scientific discovery, and technological innovation.|

Novelty. Invention. New. Creation. Problem-Solving. Innovation.
Innovation is something new or different introduced (Dictionary.com). It’s the way states and businesses stay on top of a global economy. It’s how cures for diseases and renewable energy technology and agricultural advances are created. From ancient times to now innovation has separated the winners from the losers. The development of a standardized weights and measures, as well as coins, allowed the Qin Dynasty to expand the infrastructure and economy of China, and the bow and arrow allowed Genghis Khan to successfully rule an empire that stretched from China’s eastern seas to present-day Moscow. All of these were technological innovations. Its influences on the world are heavy, but what are the causes and how does it impact global affairs, and are the effects mutual?

Economics is one of the biggest areas impacted by innovation. When a company creates an innovative product and introduces it into the market (such as a car that gets 40 miles to the gallon), this creates competition for other companies (4), forcing them to put more money into research and development (5) in order to create products (1) that will be able to compete on the market with other companies’ similar products, and hopefully be more successful. This creates a need for new products and research and in turn encourages further innovation (5, 6).

But this cycle isn’t only true with economics. It’s also true with politics and political documents. A novel or “innovative” piece of legislation can be a game-changer in global issues. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified in every country aside from the USA and Australia, and has been a grand development in the efforts to stop and reverse global climate change. It organized countries by separating them into classes and created various programs for the countries to participate in. It also created an international carbon market and set goals for limiting the amount of carbon emissions generated globally over time. The goals and caps set by the Kyoto Protocol encourage nations to develop cleaner and better technologies (6) and then share their improvements with developing nations (4). Innovation leads to more innovation.

Developments in science and technology end up heavily impacting global affairs (3, 4). Much of the Kyoto Protocol wouldn’t have been feasible if not for scientific research into the nature and sources of carbon emissions (or into the emissions’ impacts on global climate change), or the advanced means of dealing with and preventing the emission of these air pollutants (such as carbon sinks and more efficient technologies). The improved technologies allowed for the Kyoto Protocol to have a technological base to stand on. Without the developments that came before the Kyoto Protocol there couldn’t have been a carbon market because capping emissions would have crippled countries’ economies, and there wouldn’t have been any technologies for developed nations to share with developing nations. More examples of technology impacting global legislation are any of the treaties related to nuclear weapons (CTBT, NPT, etc.) – without the creation of nuclear weapons, these pieces of legislation would not have been necessary. This is true across the board for legislation; new developments and discoveries need new legislation.

And what leads to innovation? Logically, the answer is sharp and forward-thinking minds, which comes from good education mixed with smart people, giving the assumed answer of universities. However, this is not actually the...
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