Like last year, my husband and I attended the Tech Awards Gala at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center last night. For the last nine years, fifteen Tech Awards Laureates were recognized for “profoundly improving the human condition through the use of technology”.
Each year I am amazed and inspired by the passion, creativity, and spirit of innovation each winner possesses. I am particularly impressed that the award criteria is based on the impact the technology has in improving the human condition rather than the technology itself. The technology does not need to be leading edge technology to have measurable benefit. Sometimes it is very simple or even ancient. I recall a retired couple from Menlo Park, CA who won The Tech Award years ago for building pulley-based bridges across rivers or ravines to give access to schools or medical facilities in rural areas of the world.
These Nepalese school girls do not have to use a dangerous, makeshift trapeze contraption to go to school any longer. By the way, if you are looking for a terrific humanitarian gift for this coming holiday season, a mere $15 will buy a chaka (wheel) for this bridge. Requests for more bridges like these are overwhelming. Click here to donate.
Mike Splinter, Chairman and CEO of Applied Materials, presented Former Vice President Al Gore with the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award for his contribution in raising global awareness of climate change.
In his acceptance speech, Gore spoke of his college professor who over forty years ago foretold the imminent sequence of events that would result in the Earth’s climate change. Over the years, as he saw the professor’s predictions unfold, he was inspired him to take action from the first time he was elected to public office.
Gore told the 1,500 attendees of the plight of the people in Bangladesh who are direct victims of the rising sea level. The Bangladeshis used to have to rebuild their lives because of flooding every twenty years. Now, they have to rebuild every 3-9 years.
He acknowledged that it is difficult to relate how the rapidly melting ice and snow in the Himalayas might affect us. But when he said that the seven great rivers of Asia, like the Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers, all originate from the ice and snow of the Himalayas, it became very clear.
Australian firefighters are fighting fires that are hotter than they’ve ever experienced before. In a moment of epiphany, they realized that the best way to fight fires is to be on the forefront of affecting public policy to stop global warming.
Gore closed by saying that “we have everything we need to solve the problem with the possible exception of political will. Fortunately political will is a renewable resource.”
Next post, I will tell you about the Award Laureates.