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Regardless of skepticism, “Pascal’s Wager” game plan seems a good bet. This essentially means we should not gamble with eternity, but instead urge scientific community to take precautions since Armageddon allows no second chance. Better to err on side of life, even if it means some black holes will go unexplored and some research grants will be pulled.
Precaution means building contingency plans--such as shields and containment measures--into emerging technologies so that if an experiment goes awry, a safety net will kick into place. It means scientific community should better police itself. It means committees or boards—both local and international—should be established for oversight and regulations, much like Albert Einstein proposed in 1947 to maintain worldwide peace. Many nation-states and multinational corporations are known for fighting even minimal efforts to regulate dangerous technology, and they must be countered.
There are pragmatic hurdles to be negotiated when trying to impose rules on private parties or on authorities in renegade lands, but ozone hole “near disaster” demonstrates how world can cooperate when it comes to life-and-death matters. As cultures dovetail, as communications rise, as borders become more porous, and as world figuratively shrinks, it will be easier to impose structure and scientific parameters on nations that seem combative today
Science must shift its course and find new mountains to climb. It looks to us for cues. Due to our materialistic bent as a culture, our cursory endorsement of “progress” and our captivation with Prometheus-like aura of technology, we subtly ask scientific community to scale those mountains that are highest (great accolades can be received), easiest (the path of least resistance) or most profit-oriented (grant money from special interests or an emphasis on reducing labor so companies can realize greater proceeds) rather than those that are most ecological and peace-enhancing.
The research community has rivers of creativity and forests of energy that could instead be directed towards rivers and forests. It could move towards ecological preservation and restoration, peaceful alternatives to conflict and a furthering of life on this planet.
We will know a cultural transition is underway when news reports following fires, earthquakes and other disasters address impact on natural systems and nonhuman species, rather than just human and economical consequences, such as number of homes lost. Our capitalistic culture thrives on fact that nature is cost-free, which in turn, reinforces notion that it is expendable and devoid of value. This reality must change. Our reality must change. And science must change. It must shift towards peace and ecology. It’s as plain as doomsday.
Charlotte Laws is a nationally syndicated columniust, councilmember in Valley Glen, California (GVGC) and the President of the League for Earth and Animal Protection (LEAP). She has attended Oxford University and earned a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California. Her political website is www.ValleyGlen.us and her nonprofit website is www.LEAPnonprofit.org