• economister commented on the diary post And the plutocrats fiddle a merry tune of greed as our planet burns… by Antipanglossian.

    2013-03-06 15:52:36View | Delete

    You are welcome. I recommended your diary, since attention to any kind of global threat is helpful. Hopefully global warming efforts can set the stage for more.

  • economister commented on the diary post And the plutocrats fiddle a merry tune of greed as our planet burns… by Antipanglossian.

    2013-03-06 15:43:50View | Delete

    What is up with not being able to edit comments all of a sudden?

    Anyway, I don’t mean climate change has been blown out of proportion in general, but just that “the fate of the species” is not at stake in the next century owing to it.

  • economister commented on the diary post And the plutocrats fiddle a merry tune of greed as our planet burns… by Antipanglossian.

    2013-03-06 15:29:30View | Delete

    On one hand, climate change has been blown far out of proportion with what is actually predicted by serious studies. It certainly does not put “the fate of species” at stake in the next century. On the other hand, threats that really will emerge this century are almost totally unknown among the public. Biotechnology ranks [...]

  • economister commented on the diary post And the plutocrats fiddle a merry tune of greed as our planet burns… by Antipanglossian.

    2013-03-06 15:19:08View | Delete

    Chomsky is a very intelligent person. But environmental catastrophe is not the most critical immediate problem we face.

    http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html

  • economister commented on the diary post Engelhardt: Climate Change as History’s Deal-Breaker by Tom Engelhardt.

    2013-03-04 17:17:03View | Delete

    Bostrom is trying to imagine scenarios where climate change could somehow lead to human extinction. But the idea that Earth could turn into a Venus is total speculation, as he notes here:

    Even the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report prepared for the British Government which has been criticized by some as [...]

  • economister commented on the diary post Engelhardt: Climate Change as History’s Deal-Breaker by Tom Engelhardt.

    2013-03-04 17:02:06View | Delete
    Hopefully, however, we will have technological means of counteracting such a trend by the time it would start getting truly dangerous

    Which looks a lot like nonsense to me.

    Which part?

  • economister commented on the diary post Engelhardt: Climate Change as History’s Deal-Breaker by Tom Engelhardt.

    2013-03-04 16:59:14View | Delete

    I do like this:

    The apocalypse: Here’s the thing, though. It’s difficult to organize for or even against a future that you can’t imagine yourself and those children and future generations in. The thought of world-ending events may simply close down our operative imaginations. The end of the world may be popular in fiction, but in [...]

  • economister commented on the diary post Engelhardt: Climate Change as History’s Deal-Breaker by Tom Engelhardt.

    2013-03-04 16:31:54View | Delete

    Even in its relatively early but visibly intensifying stages, it threatens to be the singular event in human history, because unlike every other disaster we can imagine (except a full-scale nuclear war or, as has happened in the planet’s past, a large meteorite or asteroid impact), it alone will alter the basis for life on this [...]

  • economister commented on the diary post The Lovers Cried and the Poets Dreamed by Isaiah 88.

    2013-02-25 17:18:34View | Delete

    Good work. Recommended.

  • economister commented on the diary post 6,000 Protest Monsanto Lobbyist Appointment by paiagirl.

    2013-02-25 16:04:45View | Delete

    If it decreases the political power of biotechnology firms, it’s probably good. Petition signed. I believe however that much more drastic measures are called for–notably on experiments using human DNA. Imagine if we reach a point where we are not protesting the genetic modification of plants but the modification of human beings. I never want [...]

  • economister commented on the diary post Al Gore: Biotechnology on par with Climate Change by economister.

    2013-02-25 15:39:54View | Delete

    I think Gore deserves a tremendous amount of credit for putting the biotechnology issue front and center alongside the five other drivers of change he mentions. That’s true even if his actual stance needs work. The more people wake up to this the better.

  • economister commented on the diary post Al Gore: Biotechnology on par with Climate Change by economister.

    2013-02-25 15:33:28View | Delete

    The winners do seem to write history.

  • economister commented on the diary post Al Gore: Biotechnology on par with Climate Change by economister.

    2013-02-25 15:22:33View | Delete

    Nobody can argue with boosting IQ a few points or finding psychopaths. The problem is that limiting this technology to benign uses will be impossible in the long run and maybe the short. Before long we won’t be boosting IQ a few points, we’ll be boosting it 30 points. People who for some reason don’t [...]

  • economister commented on the diary post Over Easy: Monday Science by BoxTurtle.

    2013-02-25 15:08:30View | Delete

    When I was a kid, superconductivity was only possible near absolute zero. Top temprature is now 35c! Your computer will likely have heatstroke before then. Now, this material is not suitable for anything other than lab work being strongly hygroscopic. Which means it becomes worthless quickly just from the water in dry air.

    I think this [...]

  • Well, you’re a bona fide Alaskan. I’m out of sorts here in Italy. Speaking Italian would probably help.

    Being in Alaska no doubt raises the stakes on the climate change issue. Sometimes I wish I was born 30 years earlier. I don’t like where we are headed.

  • economister commented on the diary post Al Gore: Biotechnology on par with Climate Change by economister.

    2013-02-24 15:59:53View | Delete

    I miss SNL.

  • The threat of extinction does loom large but I don’t see how climate change could bring it about. Nick Bostrom explains:

    Even the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report prepared for the British Government which has been criticized by some as overly pessimistic, estimates that under the assumption of business-as-usual with regard to [...]

  • economister wrote a new diary post: Al Gore: Biotechnology on par with Climate Change

    2013-02-24 14:54:58View | Delete

    This  blog post  is from the Center for Genetics and Society:

    Al Gore – former vice president, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, best-selling author, high-tech and green-tech entrepreneur, and Paul Revere of climate change – has recently released  The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change . The book’s ambitious goal – and one that should be high priority for us all [...]

  • I think it’s kind of amazing how many people just assume that technological advancement is good no matter what the possible effects. These people sound the trumpets for ushering in a supposedly glorious future. You and I don’t get a choice or a say. It’s their way or the highway.

  • I think this is a very interesting diary. I agree that there is a huge problem in current thinking with not being willing or able to acknowledge how fast technology is changing. This ain’t your great-grandma’s century. That Economist article looked mainly at the present.

    It seems useful to distinguish between an inherently dangerous technology and one that could become dangerous if not regulated correctly.

    With an inherently dangerous technology, if you admit that these exist, the correct strategy is to prevent the development of the technology itself. If we put drones into this category, then we don’t want to ban drones, we want to ban the research that will lead people to understand how to construct robust drones. If nobody knows how to build these powerful drones then we don’t ever face the problem of banning them or of illegal use.

    I am not saying we should actually categorize drones in that way, in fact I don’t see why we should, but there are technologies that could be developed very soon that really are totally nefarious. Embryo selection for IQ is my current favorite example.

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