Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three lines depict our future

Dear Editor,
Sol Sanders and others concerned with present security threats need to consider another “graph representing the world’s problems” if they want to configure realistic solutions to the security dilemma’s we now face. This new graph uses three lines to represent reality.
The first upward growth line slopes skyward revealing the ‘exponential’ increase in the power, affordability and availability of all technologies. Technologies that can be used for unprecedented good like a vaccine to cure AIDS verses or to deliver incomprehensible harm like an engineered virus targeted to kill a specific population with similar genetic characteristics. Try to imagine a second holocaust more deadly than the first?
The bad news is that these increasingly powerful technologies tend to give advantage to the offense, not the defense. Israel’s defensive “Iron Dome” - highly effective at stopping missiles -- will become an unlocked aluminum screen door to biological, chemical, cyber or nanotechnology weapons when Israel’s enemies acquire them. Developing effective counter weapons will take longer, and not even of an intrusive Nazi-like police state persistently intruding on the lives of all of Israel’s potential enemies will prevent the development of catastrophically lethal weapons. And Israel won’t be the only target. Security in this hyper technological age is a short lived illusion that Sol Sanders’ “two mounting growth lines” tends to foster.
The second upward straight line in the new graph heads straight for the desired “upper corner” of “a state…free from suffering”. This linear line represents the human tendency to think in straight forward ways that usually misses the obvious explosion of change that comes from exponential events…like the explosive rise in debt from compound interest rates (Einstein called this the most powerful force in the universe), the spread of pandemic infections or the runaway environmental effects of a gradually warming climate. Sanders’ “common sense” thinking won’t register the real impact of the exponential changes that are now occurring on multiple levels and affecting nearly every aspect of our lives.
The third line that Sanders doesn’t seem to grasp is more akin to a dead EKG line. It’s a flat line across the bottom of the graph with no upward slope…only an occasional minor bump. This line represents the capacity of existing governments to deal with the problems ahead. Problems caused mostly by (but not limited to) the incongruent lines of exponential technological power and regular/conservative linear human thinking. Sanders (and others who think like him) refuse to accept the need for at least some government at the global level to deal the ubiquitous influence of globalized economic, health, education, religious, criminal, armament and environmental factors.
The International Criminal Court was one bump on this third line. It provides us with at least a token government capacity to deal with one significant threat we face, genocidal psychopaths, like Uganda’s Kony or Iran’s Ahmadinejad. With a global police force capable of dealing with these and others committing crimes against humanity we may have a chance at reducing at least some of the desire to acquire and use the destructive technologies now available to almost anyone.
Once the reality of this 3 line graph is realized there can be only two paths. We can continue as we are and prepare for the worse. Or, we can strive to adopt a global federal system of government where world law places human rights supreme to the existing rights of national governments that use weapons, money, pollution, and religious ideology to do as they please. We will never reach nirvana, but we will have a chance of maximizing our security without sacrificing our freedom.

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