Results 1 to 25 of 25

Thread: Scientific American op-ed: Humanity needs New World Order

  1. #1
    Nihilist Nessus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    7,192

    Default Scientific American op-ed: Humanity needs New World Order

    I'm mainly posting this as it relates to my long conversation with Loki a couple weeks back, plus the fate of humanity talk I and Chambalaya are/were having. Anyhoo,

    Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe

    By Gary Stix | March 17, 2012

    Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm. The issue came replete with technical solutions that ranged from a hydrogen economy to space-based solar.

    If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science. Since doing that issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the technical details are the easy part. It’s the social engineering that’s the killer. Moon shots and Manhattan Projects are child’s play compared to needed changes in the way we behave.

    A policy article authored by several dozen scientists appeared online March 15 in Science to acknowledge this point: “Human societies must now change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the Earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change. This requires fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions toward more effective Earth system governance and planetary stewardship.”

    The report summarized 10 years of research evaluating the capability of international institutions to deal with climate and other environmental issues, an assessment that found existing capabilities to effect change sorely lacking. The authors called for a “constitutional moment” at the upcoming 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June to reform world politics and government. Among the proposals: a call to replace the largely ineffective U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development with a council that reports to the U.N. General Assembly, at attempt to better handle emerging issues related to water, climate, energy and food security. The report advocates a similar revamping of other international environmental institutions.

    Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

    Behavioral economics and other forward-looking disciplines in the social sciences try to grapple with weighty questions. But they have never taken on a challenge of this scale, recruiting all seven billion of us to act in unison. The ability to sustain change globally across the entire human population over periods far beyond anything ever attempted would appear to push the relevant objectives well beyond the realm of the attainable. If we are ever to cope with climate change in any fundamental way, radical solutions on the social side are where we must focus, though. The relative efficiency of the next generation of solar cells is trivial by comparison.
    Now, it is blindingly obvious that this will never happen. Mankind will rather engage in a biosphere-destroying global conflict than unify under a single governance. Therefore, I suppose the question is, what critique can we throw at this claim of necessity? Is it possible for humanity to survive the Invisible Hand gone amok?
    In the future, the Berlin wall will be a mile high, and made of steel. You too will be made to crawl, to lick children's blood from jackboots. There will be no creativity, only productivity. Instead of love there will be fear and distrust, instead of surrender there will be submission. Contact will be replaced with isolation, and joy with shame. Hope will cease to exist as a concept. The Earth will be covered with steel and concrete. There will be an electronic policeman in every head. Your children will be born in chains, live only to serve, and die in anguish and ignorance.
    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

  2. #2
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    16,593
    Why call for things that have no chance of happening instead of looking at things that could be changed gradually even if imperfectly?
    Hope is the denial of reality

  3. #3
    Nihilist Nessus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    7,192
    I think that question may only find an answer through Gary Stix's inbox!
    In the future, the Berlin wall will be a mile high, and made of steel. You too will be made to crawl, to lick children's blood from jackboots. There will be no creativity, only productivity. Instead of love there will be fear and distrust, instead of surrender there will be submission. Contact will be replaced with isolation, and joy with shame. Hope will cease to exist as a concept. The Earth will be covered with steel and concrete. There will be an electronic policeman in every head. Your children will be born in chains, live only to serve, and die in anguish and ignorance.
    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

  4. #4
    Hmm. On the one hand, I applaud Stix for realizing that economics and poli sci et al are important to solving these sorts of challenges - I haven't read his original piece in SciAm (stopped reading that in high school, I'm afraid), but I suspect it involved a lot of pie-in-the-sky technology that either doesn't exist yet or would be fantastically expensive to implement. The reality is that appropriately handling any large global problem takes more than just technology and science.

    I'm not sure that this then necessarily militates for global governance, though. I'll try to explain:

    I used to firmly be of the opinion that if only the smartest academics were made to run the world as tyrants with a term limit, the world would be a better place. I recognized that this was prone to abuse and a whole host of other issues, but in principle I thought it was a good idea. Now, I'm not so sure. Some of my concerns are historical - technocratic governments have a very mixed record. For that matter, any of you who have spent time in an academic environment know that there are as many opinions as there are people, and that even with the same set of data you can come to drastically different conclusions about the best way to move forward. More broadly, the reality is that most developed countries have fairly well developed advisory systems for academics and other experts to inform the government - detailed data collection and analysis on a wide range of issues, and entrenched bureaucracies that attempt to craft intelligent policy within the existing law. The reason why some of this good advice is not followed is because of political concerns about its feasibility. But that's just a euphemism for saying that people won't agree to it and you'll be punished at the ballot box.

    I'm personally not in favor of getting rid of democracy in favor of some rationally designed system, but even if we do, we must ask ourselves: if these social engineers are as good as they say, shouldn't they be able to craft policies that achieve the desired results by changing people's opinions and behavior? Well, certainly we are able to do this for plenty of initiatives, even without technocrats running the show. We can incentivize (or disincentivize) all sorts of behavior successfully. So what does it tell us when we can't change behavior without a tyranny? Perhaps it means that the technocrats don't really have a solution, but rather a brute-force approach to a problem. Say what you will about politicians, but they are good at one thing: convincing people that they're doing the right thing. They're sensitive to the desires and needs of the populace (perhaps now more than ever, with detailed opinion polling on nearly any subject). I just don't see how a technocracy would be an improvement.

    So I'm not sure that we need (or want) some technocratic juggernaut to twist all of our arms and enforce some 'intelligent' policy. Perhaps what we need is politicians to convince the populace that a given course of action is right and proper, and we need their brainy advisers to come up with workable solutions that don't require wholesale restructuring of society.


    I recognize that I haven't offered any good solutions for climate change. On the one hand, I don't think that catastrophe is quite as imminent as some predict, though I recognize the costs (human and economic) are rising and will continue to do so. Yet it is important, and obviously current attempts to deal with the issue have faced all sorts of political barriers. But instead of wasting our time hoping for a utopian scientifically planned society (hah! like those ever work out), let's focus on how to craft feasible solutions to the problem. They will end up being incremental, frustrating, and messy, but that's how life works.

  5. #5
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    16,593
    At someone who spends almost all his time around political scientists, including some top ones in the field, I have come to the realization that political scientists are as unlikely to apply scientific criteria to political problems as the educated public. People do research in one or two narrow areas, providing excellent analysis of that area, but don't carry over the same methods and standards outside of that area. Most are political partisans and subordinate the search for truth to political expediency whenever the need arises (the good political scientists will at least acknowledge that their political beliefs are not backed by scientific reasoning).

    The rhetoric in the article above mirrors the rhetoric of international lawyers, historians, and sociologists who came together to form the field of International Relations in 1918. The goal was to prevent another world war, and education and rationality were meant to overcome prejudice and sub-sectional/national loyalties. The result, at least indirectly, was World War II. Anyone who wants political change must work through existing channels to enact that change, and must do so by taking into account the interests of actors that can veto any move from the status quo. Steps are being taken at the international level to deal with climate change, but they're borne out of limited urgency. The most significant efforts to deal with the problem are coming not out of international agreements, but with domestic lobbying efforts. The latter are not going to have the desired effect until the climate crisis becomes more real, and even then, I'm not sure we can expect most of the developing world to take major, concrete measures.

    Perhaps once the threat of climate change becomes more real, a sufficient number of interest groups in the developed world will push their governments to unilaterally reduce emissions, writing treaties with "coalitions of the willing", and perhaps implementing some form of sanctions for those who don't join the bandwagon. But we're a long way from getting to that stage, and all this talk about forcing costly legislation down the throats of the world public will do is waste resources and scare the public; neither will help bring about the desired goal.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  6. #6
    King of Ellipses...
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    2,515
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I'm personally not in favor of getting rid of democracy in favor of some rationally designed system, but even if we do, we must ask ourselves: if these social engineers are as good as they say, shouldn't they be able to craft policies that achieve the desired results by changing people's opinions and behavior?
    They are as good as they say, it just takes a concerted effort, significant financial backing, and time to accomplish these things. Also most of these people are employed in the selling of things, not social change for the betterment of all humanity, so there is that too.

    Edit: Essentially any ideas that they want to sell have to be constructed and marketed better.

  7. #7
    SEŃOR Member Aimless's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    13,918
    Who's going to care about a seemingly unlikely future doom with the present being as difficult as it is? And who's going to put their faith in a global venture with their fellow humans when everything about our lives teaches us to fight selfishly?
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Midwest, USA
    Posts
    1,062
    We need to change our views when it comes to global imperatives. All politics need to be put aside and huge punishement dealt to anyone who doesn't comply. We need to sign a ridiculous treaty that will enable us to deal with issues like global warming, even one country fully committing is not enough.

  9. #9
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    16,593
    We should also mandate all farmers to teach their pigs how to fly.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  10. #10
    De Oppresso Liber CitizenCain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bottom of a bottle, on top of a woman
    Posts
    3,423
    What an abortion of a train of thought.

    How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow?

    Oh, so we just need to completely abandon every natural law and kill ourselves now, so we don't die tomorrow? Idiot.
    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    -- Thomas Jefferson: American Founding Father, clairvoyant and seditious traitor.

  11. #11
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    9,319
    Progress isn't a binary between rainbows/unicorns vs. apocalypse.

    The idea that if you just put the right dictator in place, you'll:

    A) Get what you want from your government.
    B) Get what's best.

    ...is laughable. Sciam has fallen so far over the years. Looks like I haven't missed much since it stopped coming to the mailbox about 15 years ago.

  12. #12
    Nihilist Nessus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    7,192
    Well this thread was a miserable failure on my part. I suppose it serves the community for everyone to pat each other on the back, but I honestly didn't realize quitting sci-am was such a rite of passage over there! It's not like their blogs are there to inspire new novel research, but they do high-light stuff that's fun to discuss over the coffee table.
    In the future, the Berlin wall will be a mile high, and made of steel. You too will be made to crawl, to lick children's blood from jackboots. There will be no creativity, only productivity. Instead of love there will be fear and distrust, instead of surrender there will be submission. Contact will be replaced with isolation, and joy with shame. Hope will cease to exist as a concept. The Earth will be covered with steel and concrete. There will be an electronic policeman in every head. Your children will be born in chains, live only to serve, and die in anguish and ignorance.
    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

  13. #13
    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    In the forests of the night
    Posts
    5,710
    This thread perfectly illustrates the problems man has with "thinking ahead".
    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Midwest, USA
    Posts
    1,062
    This thread perfectly illustrates the problems man has with "thinking ahead".
    Not man it's a group that is controlled by too many independant forces. Who are themselves controlled by many other independant forces.

  15. #15
    De Oppresso Liber CitizenCain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bottom of a bottle, on top of a woman
    Posts
    3,423
    Quote Originally Posted by Khendraja'aro View Post
    This thread perfectly illustrates the problems man has with "thinking ahead".
    The problem with our universe that time flows in one direction and entropy is unavoidable, you mean?

    Not that I really give a fuck about the suffering people in whothefuck cares, but it's not reasonable or fiesable to tell 5 billion of them to live at a pre-industrial level of development because otherwise bad shit will happen in 2150. (According to current projections anyway, which as recently as a few decades back were calling for a new ice age. )
    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    -- Thomas Jefferson: American Founding Father, clairvoyant and seditious traitor.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6,799
    The average American would never stand for a one world government. And thank God that's true. Look at the holy mess Europe is in? Have you seen the ridiculousness that is the Italy and their labor laws?

  17. #17
    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4,473
    The United States itself is a closer example of One World Government than the European Union.
    It's getting closer now, the fear that we have held off for so long
    It's getting closer now to where we know there can be no return
    It's makes no sense to me, what has been set in motion here today
    It makes no sense anymore, was it too little, too late? Or too much too fast?

  18. #18
    King of Ellipses...
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    2,515
    Also our states aren't allowed to leave the union.

  19. #19
    De Oppresso Liber CitizenCain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bottom of a bottle, on top of a woman
    Posts
    3,423
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    The United States itself is a closer example of One World Government than the European Union.
    Debatable, though, clearly, both organizations are dangerous evils that must be purged from this world by fire as soon as possible.
    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    -- Thomas Jefferson: American Founding Father, clairvoyant and seditious traitor.

  20. #20
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    9,319
    Quote Originally Posted by Nessus View Post
    Well this thread was a miserable failure on my part. I suppose it serves the community for everyone to pat each other on the back, but I honestly didn't realize quitting sci-am was such a rite of passage over there! It's not like their blogs are there to inspire new novel research, but they do high-light stuff that's fun to discuss over the coffee table.
    I think I probably over-read it as an endorsement of world dictatorship, but upon re-reading it's not explicitly that. My apologies.

  21. #21
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18,527
    Humanity needs to start focusing on the things we all agree with (like projecting survival for future generations), and stop politicizing every damn thing. That would, indeed, mean a New World Order.

  22. #22
    De Oppresso Liber CitizenCain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bottom of a bottle, on top of a woman
    Posts
    3,423
    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Humanity needs to start focusing on the things we all agree with (like projecting survival for future generations),
    That's not something everyone agrees on. In fact, there's nothing everyone agrees on, so your proposal would be... to start focusing on nothing? Or is your idea, in fact, just a backdoor way of saying that people need to start focusing on what you think is important, as you're definitely right, and everyone else is definitely wrong?
    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    -- Thomas Jefferson: American Founding Father, clairvoyant and seditious traitor.

  23. #23
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18,527
    Wow, seriously? Then I'll amend my reply to say.....humanity needs to start focusing on the things MOST people CAN agree on (like survival in the future).


  24. #24
    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Maine! And yes, we have plumbing!
    Posts
    3,003
    But they wont. Sooo...you gonna make them?
    Brevior saltare cum deformibus viris est vita

  25. #25
    De Oppresso Liber CitizenCain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Bottom of a bottle, on top of a woman
    Posts
    3,423
    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Wow, seriously?
    Yes, seriously.

    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Then I'll amend my reply to say.....humanity needs to start focusing on the things MOST people CAN agree on (like survival in the future).
    Glad you're coming around and finally agree that everyone should own a gun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Veldan Rath View Post
    But they wont. Sooo...you gonna make them?
    The whole history of politics summed up in a nifty little rhetorical question. <sigh> Think I'm gonna have another beer.
    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    -- Thomas Jefferson: American Founding Father, clairvoyant and seditious traitor.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •