- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Charlotte Laws
Monday, May. 02, 2005 at 7:20 PM
Science must be urged to climb those mountains which promote sustainability, peace and ecology rather than those which place our planet in peril.
In his book, "Our Final Hour," Cambridge professor and Britain’s “Astronomer Royal” Martin Rees predicts humanity has no more than a 50/50 chance of survival into the next century and that by 2020 a million people will perish due to scientific error or terror. Some would call him prescient, while others would interpret his words as alarmist, resembling a layer cake with environmental fears on top of nuclear fears on top of chemical and biological threats, ad infinitum. With a sci-fi flare, he warns of runaway technology, human clones and an ability to insert memory chips into the brain.
Doomsday predictors get much the same respect as the “toxic fumes” sign at the local service station; they impart their wisdom, yet we yawn. Situations which seem grim and overwhelming, even potentially lethal, tend to be ignored. Attention on more immediate and “American” concerns, such as consumer goods and personal advancement, monopolize our daily thoughts. This is arguably foolhardy and indicative of the “another doomsday, another dollar” mentality.
Rees is not a lone voice on the scientific stage. The “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” reports we have seven minutes until our final bow at midnight. Other reputable experts surmise that a “gray goo” or nanotechnological catastrophe poses the greatest threat. This involves the invention of miniature, self-replicating machines that gnaw away at the environment until it is devoid of life. It need not be deliberate sabotage—as in technological warfare by one nation against another--but could result from a laboratory mishap.
Astronomers speak of fugitive asteroids that could destroy major sections of our planet within the next 30 years. Others point to atom-crashing tests and their potential for a lethal strangelet scenario. Strangelets are malformed subatomic matter, which could distort all normal matter and dissolve the earth in seconds.
There are streams of alerts from environmental experts who tell us natural disasters are on the rise. They warn of climatic change and tell us the world's species die at a rate 1000 times greater than they did prior to human existence due to habitat destruction and the introduction of non-indigenous species into the ecosystem. Their conclusion? If we do not reverse the damaging trend, Earth itself will be extinct.
Should we open our minds to doomsday predictions? And if we accept them, what is the next step to insure or increase our chance of planetary survival?
In his book, "Science, Money and Politics," Daniel Greenberg follows a trail of suspicion. He condemns what he believes to be the self-serving, greedy scientific community with its bungled research, conflicts of interest and findings that never see the light of day due to suppression by corporate sponsors. But this seems to be an overly cynical, embellished perspective; there are surely many scientists dedicated to discovery and social responsibility, apart from any personal gain. And we should not forget that offering controversial insights can be at a cost; proponents of “radical” theories often expose themselves to public and professional ridicule.
Regardless of skepticism, the “Pascal’s Wager” game plan seems a good bet. This essentially means we should not gamble with eternity, but instead urge the scientific community to take precautions since Armageddon allows no second chance. Better to err on the side of life, even if it means some black holes will go unexplored and some research grants will be pulled.
Precaution means building contingency plans--such as shields and containment measures--into emerging technologies so that if an experiment goes awry, a safety net will kick into place. It means the scientific community should better police itself. It means committees or boards—both local and international—should be established for oversight and regulations, much like Albert Einstein proposed in 1947 to maintain worldwide peace. Many nation-states and multinational corporations are known for fighting even minimal efforts to regulate dangerous technology, and they must be countered.
There are pragmatic hurdles to be negotiated when trying to impose rules on private parties or on authorities in renegade lands, but the ozone hole “near disaster” demonstrates how the world can cooperate when it comes to life-and-death matters. As cultures dovetail, as communications rise, as borders become more porous, and as the world figuratively shrinks, it will be easier to impose structure and scientific parameters on nations that seem combative today
Science must shift its course and find new mountains to climb. It looks to us for cues. Due to our materialistic bent as a culture, our cursory endorsement of “progress” and our captivation with the Prometheus-like aura of technology, we subtly ask the scientific community to scale those mountains that are the highest (great accolades can be received), the easiest (the path of least resistance) or the most profit-oriented (grant money from special interests or an emphasis on reducing labor so companies can realize greater proceeds) rather than those that are the most ecological and peace-enhancing.
The research community has rivers of creativity and forests of energy that could instead be directed towards rivers and forests. It could move towards ecological preservation and restoration, peaceful alternatives to conflict and a furthering of life on this planet.
We will know a cultural transition is underway when news reports following fires, earthquakes and other disasters address the impact on natural systems and nonhuman species, rather than just the human and economical consequences, such as the number of homes lost. Our capitalistic culture thrives on the fact that nature is cost-free, which in turn, reinforces the notion that it is expendable and devoid of value. This reality must change. Our reality must change. And science must change. It must shift towards peace and ecology. It’s as plain as doomsday.
Published in E (The Environmental) Magazine - Our Planet Online
Charlotte Laws, Ph.D. is a syndicated columnist, an elected member of the Greater Valley Glen Council and the President of the League for Earth and Animal Protection (LEAP). Her political website is www.CharlotteLaws.org and the LEAP website is www.LEAPnonprofit.org
Report this post as:
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights
What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It
Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down
Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29
Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf
Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development
Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine
Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents
Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters
City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre
Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling
Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present
Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police
LA Times Homicide Report
More Local News...
What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress??
Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée
The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion
Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service
The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally!
The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder
Paraphysique de la dictature étatique
Book Review: "The New Bonapartists"
The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia
Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine
The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally!
“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize!
The World Dependent on Central Banks
Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine
March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update
Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel
ICE contract with license plate reader company
Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes
Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges
Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes
Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety
Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man
Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes
Paraphysique de l'autorité
Two Podcasts on fbi corruption
Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS
More Breaking News...