Washington D.C. – And the Potomac River

A severe thunderstorm has paralyzed airports around Washington D.C. I arrive significantly late to the Gaylord National Convention Center located along the magnificent National Harbor on the banks of the Potomac River for the TechConnect World Innovation Conference - an annual event uniquely designed to accelerate the commercialization of innovations out of the lab and into industry. Few people attending the event remember that 50 years ago, the Potomac had greasy-brown stinky waters, heavily contaminated with toxic wastes and pollutants. Many programs had been implemented to improve water quality, successfully eliminating all major sources of impact. Even today the Virginia Department of Health in collaboration with Maryland caution people not to eat fish from the Potomac and surrounding rivers. Again, we should have learned that it is easy to destroy something beautiful, yet increasingly hard to fix. This year’s TechConnect World has an environmental emphasis, selecting new technologies to replace and/or improve existing ones. My talk on the environment garnered an avalanche of requests. It is encouraging for me to see the movement in our times to actively participate in stopping the cycle of destruction and to instead take technology in our hands to fix things before it is too late.