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the creativity gap

Sir Ken Robinson, expert in education and creativity, in his book Out of our Minds

As this century progresses, massive changes in the numbers and distribution of the world's human populations will put intense pressure on natural resources, and especially water, on food supplies and its means for production, on energy and on the quality of air and the atmosphere. There will be profound effects on the structure of economic activity and trade.

Responding to these massive shifts in population will demand radically new ways of caring for natural resources, new technologies for generating energy, new and sustainable methods of food production. Here, as everywhere, innovation is critical.

One of the reasons that so many people believe they are not creative is education. Education is the key to the future and the stakes could hardly be higher. The visionary novelist, H.G. Wells, put [this]point even more sharply: "Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe."

Stephan Ouaknine, CEO of the green energy investment fund Inerjys

Whether it's in art or in the clean energy sector, at its heart, creativity always comes hand in hand with challenging the status quo. If you are afraid to challenge the status quo, you can't be creative. Its takes a certain type of ballsiness.

Everyone sees barriers. They are convinced that the way it is is the way it is. The people we need are those who find new models. I get excited about people who have one crazy idea after another. We don't have enough of that in Canada because we're predisposed to being modest. Sometimes when we flex our muscles a little, great things can happen.

What might have been done before as non-profit, we can do for profit. The minute an idea is for profit, you get a lot more takers. Really profitable ideas can make a dent in climate change because they tend to get widely deployed.

Joyce Murray, Liberal MP - Vancouver Quadra

Evidence from evolutionary biologists and psychologists suggests that humans are driven to compete with others for resources, to feed their families and perpetuate their DNA. But there is also a built-in incentive to co-operate because a group is vulnerable to competition from another group if it doesn't have the strength to withstand competition. So we are wired to co-operate and we're wired to compete.

But we're in a new stage now where the impacts of our technologies and activities are so much greater. The need to co-operate beyond the family, extended family, clan, region and country is essential for our species' sustainability. And so we're going to have to think beyond our innate competitiveness. It's going to take creativity to lift up the co-operative side of our drive and act in the public interest.

Paul Langan, founder of the citizen advocacy group High Speed Rail Canada

Revitalizing passenger rail is a creative solution to the huge environmental impact of car-centric transportation.

Rather than just default to old transportation solutions that haven't served us well, the federal government must get creative about finding ways to support rail, such as public-private partnerships and a national passenger rail act and regulations that would provide stability and guidance to passenger rail operators. Tax breaks can be used to encourage creativity and innovation to companies modernizing and utilizing rail diesel cars and restoring abandoned or seldom used rail corridors.

We can't move forward on implementing large-scale transportation solutions until Canadians and our federal politicians begin to think truly creatively by questioning the status quo and recognize that passenger rail can improve our quality of life, economy and our environment.

Special to The Globe and Mail