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The 3D Printing Revolution, Climate Change and National Security: An Opportunity for U.S. Leadership

Eventorbot_open_source_3d_printer_galleryThis is a new report from the Center for Climate and Security. Footnotes and citations can be found in the PDF version here.

Introduction

Humanity has lived through many ages and transformations, usually without knowing that it was doing so. Hunters and gatherers reigned for hundreds of thousands of years until the agricultural revolution slowly changed the way we managed our environment, leading to denser populations, and eventually, sprawling empires. In Western Europe, the age of empires reluctantly but swiftly gave way to the plodding age of feudalism, followed by the energetic burst of the Enlightenment and on to the manufacturing juggernaut of the industrial age, which took us from steamships on the Mississippi to robots on Mars in less than two hundred years. We are now furiously typing and tweeting our way through the computer, or “virtual” age, with an unprecedented population, resource and climate crisis as an anxious backdrop. But as we stare at our screens, a new age is sneaking up on us, quite unexpectedly – one that combines the solidity, durability and strength of the industrial age, with the nimbleness, flexibility and adaptability of the virtual age. This mix will be necessary to address the complex challenges of a rapidly changing and uncertain world – not the least of which are the associated security risks of climate change. It is an age that has the potential to be built not with hammers, but with printers. 3D printers, to be precise. And the United States of America is in a perfect position to lead the way.

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