Tag Archive for 'tsunami'

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  !

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!! “

Kyoto to Copenhagen-Climate Change Framework Conventions-Are we serious enough?

More than 190 delegates from all over the world are meeting today at Copenhagen to discuss and agree on a possible climate change framework under the aegis of the UN .This convention is very important in many ways. More than 12 years after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, very little compliance has been achieved globally even though the awareness and need to control Green House emissions have been quite high. Extraneous issues, political compulsions ,a wide disparity in development , scarcity of alternative technology for clean fuels, Hyper exploitation of the ocean beds, indiscriminate destruction of forests, haphazard urban development all have contributed to this sorry state of affairs. Every major stake holder speaks from high moral ground but enforce very little on home turf .The Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina have served fair warnings to all but have we learned enough? .We need not look far to realise the lurking danger of likely devastation scenarios. Look at the disrupted climate patterns,carbon footprints and depletion of ozone layers all over the world. We refuse to see the writings on the wall and put political blinds for short term gains. It is possible we may not get another chance to deliberate on these issues in future if the nations fail to come to a practical agreement at Copenhagen. May wise counsel prevail upon all !.