Wednesday, November 20, 2013
TWO VIEWS ON DOOMSDAY
The matter of doomsday kind of reminds me of religion and politics. Capable and intelligent minds sincerely can have polar opposite views on the reality of an afterlife or the seriousness of global warming. There are divers reasons, but it mostly boils down to semantics and attitude.
For example, if our lifestyle significantly declines, say, from climate change and Peak Oil, an individual can understandably feel that this is just a natural evolution to which society must optimally adjust, and, by the way, every effort should be made to prepare the masses for this eventuality. Don't confuse the public with false hopes such as fusion or alien signals from outer space. How is it possible for another observer to feel that, no, that is some form of negative doomsday perspective and that solutions should be developed to insure for a more favorable future?
He will inform me if I have misunderstood the substance, but I think that is the crux of the issue between a biochemical engineer (me) and a political scientist (Jim Dator, although I know of physicists and other scientists who carry Jim's general view).
Jim and I are close colleagues and we first worked together nearly 40 years ago on a NASA educational project called "Earth 2020: Visions for Our Children's Children." I came up with Earth 2020 and the wife of the director the Ames Research Center contributed the theme. Anyway, in 1974 I was a new Assistant Professor of Engineering on the Manoa Campus of the University of Hawaii, while Jim was already a respected Futurist and lead for this course.
We are both optimists, but we don't share similar visions about our future and how to get there. I thus thought it might be worth a discussion on the matter of what we all should be doing in anticipation of the next century, with doomsday or not. I am replaying Henry Curtis' blog, Ililani, but let me start first with some background of Jim Dator from Wikipedia: