March 18, 2012

Just thought you might be interested in your masters have in store for you...

A 'modest proposal" from Scientific American, Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe:

...Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere.

Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to "discount" the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

Behavioral economics and other forward-looking disciplines in the social sciences try to grapple with weighty questions. But they have never taken on a challenge of this scale, recruiting all seven billion of us to act in unison. The ability to sustain change globally across the entire human population over periods far beyond anything ever attempted would appear to push the relevant objectives well beyond the realm of the attainable. If we are ever to cope with climate change in any fundamental way, radical solutions on the social side are where we must focus, though. The relative efficiency of the next generation of solar cells is trivial by comparison....

I especially like: " Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?" Oh, right. As opposed to the non-abusive use of: "heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers" to cause "species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors."

Posted by John Weidner at March 18, 2012 3:40 PM

The eggheads at SA have been thinking inside the box for at least twenty years, John. I remember reading a special issue they published back around 1990 about the world's energy situation, and it was basically recycled tripe from the long-since discredited Club of Rome studies of the early '70s. (Short version: "We're all DOOMED!!")

Jerry Pournelle pointed out over thirty years ago that all the "dooms" pointed out by the Club of Rome nonsense were really just aspects of one big problem-- scarcity of natural resources. Given the natural resources, all the "dooms" vanish.

The blind spot the folks at SA have is that they think we live on Planet Earth. That's true enough, but they forget that that we live in a Solar System of nine planets, umpteen moons, millions of asteroids, billions of comets, and one very large, unshielded thermonuclear reactor called "the Sun".

Everything-- raw materials and energy-- that we need to lift all of Earth's billions of people up to an American standard of living is "out there". We just have to go get it. And if we can go get it "out there", we can do all our manufacturing "out there", too, and turn most of the Earth into one vast nature preserve.

But no, we're DOOMED!!! saith the Scientific American.

It was an outstanding magazine when I was a kid, circa 1970. Then my elder Boomer siblings got a hold of it. *sigh*

Posted by: Hale Adams at March 18, 2012 5:22 PM

Yeah, I dropped my subscription to Scientific American 20 years or so ago precisely because they had shifted from science to Lysenkoism. Just another accumulation of social capital used by the Boomers like public housing.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 19, 2012 2:16 PM

Well it was just about then that they stopped being a journal of actual scientific papers, and became just a science magazine.

Posted by: John Weidner at March 19, 2012 6:46 PM

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