Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Post # 94: Sacrificing Africa

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Africa_%28orthographic_projection%29.svg

By now, most of you have (I hope) read my last post (#93).  In that post, I discussed "my take" on the climate change debate.  I won't rehash that discussion here, but I do want to draw your attention to a related and thought-provoking Op Ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal by

Rossiter's article contrasts the UNCERTAINTIES regarding climate change and options for mitigating it, to the CERTAINTY that restricted access to fossil fuels will doom many hundreds of millions of human beings to a short life filled with struggle and suffering. 

The picture I have in my mind is that of a physician who refuses lifesaving radiation treatments to his cancer patients because the physician is concerned about the possible impact of background radiation on the public at large.  Dare I say it... "misplaced priorities"?

Personally, I believe it is immoral to deny (or work in opposition to) a technology that will save lives TODAY, based on an (uncertain) fear that other lives may be impacted in the FUTURE.  It's (as always) about risk and risk management.

Rossiter's article is a sobering reminder that intellectual humility (freely admitting we don't know what we don't know) and empathy for our fellow man are not optional for those of us in the scientific and technical enterprise.  Please read the article... an important commentary on technology and culture in today's world...

Just Thinking,