Hawking on whether the world will end naturally or by man's doing

When Stephen Hawking was asked whether the world is likely to end on account of humans, or through natural disaster, he selected humans. According to The Radio Times1, Hawking responded to student Paul Ost's question "Will the world will end naturally, or will man destroy it first?" with “Most of the threats we face come from the progress we’ve made in science and technology. We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we must recognize the dangers and control them. I’m an optimist, and I believe we can.”

"A powerful analysis of our situation"

This book shows how societies and individuals can have too much of a good thing, often unconscious of the effects of ingenuity on their environment. When changes are man-made and harmful, a downward spiral begins: development that excludes solutions to problems that arise from development.

What it takes to end an environmental crisis

Cholera in London, 1858
It takes hardship, observation, data, and in the case of London's cholera epidemic - a stench from the River Thames so foul that Parliament ceased functioning. The next order of business was for the members of Parliament to quickly enact legislation ordering the overhaul of London's sewerage system.

The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming - what's our excuse? - Cosmos

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves" - Shakespeare
Allow me to transcribe some eloquent lines spoken by Niel deGrasse Tyson in Episode 9 of Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey. The topic is mass extinction of species, such as befell the dinosaurs. After extolling the human skills that gave rise to civilizations, Tyson observes:

People who don't believe in climate change?

"You won't find them on the fireline in the American West anymore," said a Federal chief of fire operations, interviewed by CBS News at the site of the fatal wildfire in Arizona on July 1st, 2013. Nineteen firefighters lost their lives fighting the fire near Yarnell, Arizona on June 30.
 

Consider the changing climate - and think of your children and grandchildren.

by Martin J. Rosenthal, August 2012      updated*
Bill McKibben and James Hansen, the world's leading Climatologist (Goddard/NASA-Climate Center-Columbia University) have each written recent articles on climate change.
(1) Hansen proves we have moved up .8 Celsius in the last two decades.
(2) He has said that 2 degrees Celsius or 4 Fahrenheit is the maximum movement in our temperature for DRASTIC climate change.

Darwin and poetry

Can parts of the mind become atrophied through misuse? Charles Darwin seemed to think it possible, and that it had happened to him. He felt certain that the remedy was to engage the affected parts of the brain in culturally stimulating activities. There has been much speculation that mental illness may have been the culprit. However Darwin, known for speaking his mind only after lengthy reflection, persuades us that he was not speculating wildly. Progress traps appear to follow the same pattern - specialization followed by atrophy. But let Darwin's words express the conundrum:

Darwin and mental atrophy

There are many instances of societies where progress unravels, but can the same thing happen to individuals? It may have happened to Charles Darwin, Seymour Cray and to Thomas Midgley, the inventor of leaded gasoline and CFCs. The present project investigates the role that ordinary human behaviour plays in progress traps. The highly complex area of cerebral specialization no doubt holds many clues, but it surely unwise to discourage those whose background is not very scientific from technical and scientific pursuits.


Buy the book
at Amazon.com

Download the Kindle version: US UK


You don't actually need a Kindle -

"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)

Subscribe to the progress trap RSS