Tag Archive for 'Global warming'

The World in Denial – Focus on the Unknown Knowns

I read with interest an article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft published in New York Times and reproduced in Deccan Chronicle today titled ” A world in denial of what it knows ” .

From the Mayan prophesies of the world ending on 21st Dec 2012 to the intermediate stages towards this scenario like global warming , tsunami , nuclear disasters , forest fires , hurricanes , climate changes ,genetic disorders , massive deforestation , biological epidemics , and even large scale political upheavals , wars , cultural conflicts all stare at us and ask us to take note before it is too late !!.

During the last decade , the world was also in a state of denial about  financial melt downs , collapse of the Euro Zone , the rise of communist capitalism in China , global terrorism , the Arab Spring and other middle east popular uprisings , and the rise of middle class in the developing countries .

We have no dearth of  Thought Leaders but they do not focus conveniently on the so called ” Unknown Known ” of the decision theory to prevent global disasters – mostly man made and preventable .

According to Geoffrey Wheatcroft , unknown knowns are things that are not all inevitable and are easily knowable or indeed known but people chose to “unknow” . To save this world from future disasters , we need to heavily focus on these “Unknown Knowns ” .


Benign Neglect – A basic human trait ?

In all human endeavor , the hind sight is always  6/6 or almost near that . When we are required to act with speed or to choose an alternative , we at times either vacillate or procrastinate . But worse than this , we deliberately let matters drift hoping that the problem will either go away or get sorted out by itself .

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Benign Neglect as ‘ a policy or attitude of ignoring a situation instead of assuming responsibility for managing or improving it ‘. At a political level it can also be a variant of a “Laissez Faire ” policy .

This trait or an attitude of ” Benign Neglect ” comes with a Price !! . Many a times , the opportunity which was there initially vanishes or we are compelled to go for a sub optimal solution . While the consequences at a personal level is well understood , opportunities at the society or national or even international level can be problematic and prone to conflicts . Take the example of racism or cold war during the sixties , oil crisis in the seventies or the war in the middle east . Also , look at the delayed responses to global warming or energy crisis . In many such cases , we missed the best solutions through a ” benign neglect ” to act decisively and settled for reactive remedies which at times threw up solutions worse than the problem faced in the first instance !!

In the future , we can expect new issues in water management , tsunami , or melting of the glacial layers or man made disasters manifested through more social uprisings like the  “Arab Spring ” or more serious Nuclear Disasters thanks to the same collective human trait of  Benign Neglect  !

Ash out of Ice – The Chaos Theory in action

The volcanic eruption in Iceland  a few days back and its impact on International travel and other business interests in Iceland  is a warning on shape of things to come out of the various scenarios of the Chaos Theory .

The fabled North Atlantic  Air Route had to be shut down for days together  fearing flying ash from the volcanic eruptions causing major disruptions to both business and leisure travel plans . A first of its kind ,  major airlines will have to now factor such contingencies into their operational plans . Remember Tsunami and  the recent snow storms which hit the eastern Sea Board of the US .  Air Travel is no longer insulated from such acts of nature . We have advanced technology to make Air Travel faster and safer but we are yet to fathom the intricacies of Mother Nature and her unpredictable ways  of demonstrating her might .

May be we are taking a lot of liberties with nature . Global warming , depletion of ozone layer , deforestation , and over exploitation of marine assets  and above all the extinction  of rare flora and fauna due to man made reasons , all add to the nature’s fury in retaliation .

The present crisis could be a wake up call  to respect NATURE in all its majesty and glory  for a sustainable and habitable world .

Ask the Crow!! Predictions on Climate Change.

The disputes about various claims on effects of climate changes due to global warming makes very interesting reading. In India, Mr R C Pachauri is now on the firing line but he is putting up a brave front. I do not think any one doubts his passion or sincerity. It is just that at best the forecasts are based on indicators and estimations from published survey data. No one really can predict accurately the shape  of things to come.  A glaring example is the Tsunami which struck globally in December 2004.  The phenomena of Tsunami was known to Japan but the name itself was not widely known to many nations including Indonesia which suffered maximum damage.

Scientists and other experts should also report factually without adding their own color to scare the public.  Any contradictions revealed later will only go against the veracity of the initial findings.

There is a famous joke about accuracy of things not known to human species. As an answer to a question posed to some one ” What is the distance from Point A to Point B as the crow flies? “, the retort was “Ask the Crow!! “

Speed of Need-Concept and Practice

We have a fair understanding of the ” Need of Speed ” concept from racing cars or digital games.But how about the concept of ” Speed of Need ” ?.The various unresolved issues facing the humanity like global warming, illiteracy, economic exploitation, oil crisis , clean air etc stare at us without any solution in the foreseeable future. How do we address these concerns on a time bound manner appreciating the SPEED for NEED in finding and implementing satisficing solutions acceptable globally?.The constraints under which the United Nations work impedes objective analysis and consensus in solutions . Many a times, parochial national or business considerations or lobbying distort the picture and the process drags on and on.

While communication technology and the Internet have helped create a borderless world, the various global issues like carbon foot print, green house emissions and clean fuel defy global solutions because of perceived national priorities or concerns. The generations to come are bound to suffer and carry this baggage created by narrow minded protectionists. The need of the hour is to forge global alliances cutting across party lines and lobbying to arrive at acceptable solutions in time before solutions itself become irrelevant when there is no more SPEED required by the NEED.