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If you&'re looking for ideas on how to create a smarter and sustainable planet, James Cameron&'s Avatar film is a logical place to look. In crafting the moon of Pandora and the story for the film, Cameron built in an obvious ecological message. He&'ll likely expand on that message in the next two Avatar movies, according to a talk Cameron held with Google CEO Eric Schmidt last week at the Churchill Club in San Jose, California.

In the film, a technological society goes to war with an indigenous one that supports a sustainable, planet-wide ecosystem. The results of the clash are grim, but Cameron said that on our planet, we will have to make the two different kinds of societies live in harmony.

Cameron has a lot of street cred on technology, Schmidt said, because he&'s one of the few Hollywood filmmakers who is a super geek, having designed everything from stereoscopic 3D cameras to submarines that can go to the bottom of the ocean. As such, Cameron has had a lot of time to think about the problems of technology as it clashes with the environment.

He argued that technologists should be part of the solution. They don&'t have to be part of the society that simply keeps consuming things without regard to their environmental effects. During the 12 years it took to make Avatar, Cameron wondered deeply about the environmental impact of his film. Humans, Cameron said, have to evolve into &''techno indigenous people, not of the state, not of the nation, but of the planet.&''

He added, &''That hasn&'t been done before and I don&'t know how to do it. Maybe it&'s one of the tipping point things in a good way. You notice now that solar energy is slowly starting to accelerate. I have to think that people of good conscience will prevail. Education is important. We have to challenge our leaders to be leaders, getting the public to buy into it. Right now, they are in denial mode because of the economy. That is natural. People have to pay mortgages.&''

Reaching the balance of technology and the environment means tough choices. Cameron was a big fan of undersea ocean exploration, a passion that led him to film the Titanic and build sophisticated submarines for that film. But he decided that &''exploration wasn&'t as important as conservation.&''

Cameron said he will weave his message about taking care of the planet into the next two Avatar films. He will also continue to make documentaries about threats to the planet. He is currently designing a submarine that can go 37,000 feet below the surface to the bottom of the ocean and withstand pressure of 16,000 pounds per square inch. But he also intends to bring to light problems such as the fact that the coral reefs can be killed off in the next 20 years, simply by a 2-degree increase in the temperature of the ocean on a global level.

People have to realize that everything is connected, he said. People in Minnesota might actually like it if the temperature of the planet rises five degrees. But they wona4t like it if they have to send their children to fight wars that arise because the temperature rise elsewhere causes droughts, mass migrations, dislocations and conflict. Cameron said that humans have to acknowledge a debt to the natural and that we are on a precipice.

&''If we don&'t take control of our role and stewardship of the planet,&'' he said. &''Then the world we bequeath to our children and grandchildren is not going to be a livable place.&''

Schmidt said that Camerona4s genius wasna4t reflected in his passion for filmmaking, technology, or environmentalism. Rather, he said that the genius of Cameron was in his deep knowledge of all three fields.

Cameron said he was also concerned that 70 percent of all species could be wiped out by global warming and other environmental impacts of mankind by the end of the century. He said that is as bad as the loss of species that occurred when the comet wiped out the dinosaurs.

&''This time, we are the comet,&'' he said.

Cameron said he believes he can finish the second Avatar movie by 2014 and the third movie by 2015. In both films, you&'ll see some of his evolving thoughts on ecology and you may also see documentaries about how to save the planet. That&'s Cameron&'s way of balancing out the need to continue his craft as a blockbuster filmmaker without sacrificing his vision for a better planet. More technologists might have a big impact if they pursued their passion in technology at the same time they pursue a vision for reducing their carbon footprints. Eventually, Schmidt said, the jobs created by the sustainability effort will outweigh the jobs lost by reducing carbon footprints.

What Cameron and Schmidt are doing makes a lot of common sense and business sense. If they can win over the top thinkers of Silicon Valley, then we might just get the smartest minds on the planet to work on saving it.

Here are videos of Cameron and Schmidt from the event:

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Tags: Avatar

Companies: Google

People: Eric Schmidt, James Cameron

Tags: Avatar

Companies: Google

People: Eric Schmidt, James Cameron

Dean is lead writer for GamesBeat at VentureBeat. He covers video games, security, chips and a variety of other subjects. Dean previously worked at the San Jose Mercury News, the Wall Street Journal, the Red Herring, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register and the Dallas Times Herald. He is the author of two books, Opening the Xbox and the Xbox 360 Uncloaked. Follow him on Twitter at @deantak, and follow VentureBeat on Twitter at @venturebeat.

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