... or near-random thoughts / musings / working hypotheses ...
"Catch Phrases" I've Come Up with
Over the Past Several Years
Letters to the Editor...
On Saturday, 2 Sept. 2006 I had a "Letter to the Editor" published in
The Boston Globe in response to a column by Alex Beam, entitled
"MIT's inconvenient scientist". Below is my letter as it appeared in the newspaper. The downloadable PDF has this and the text of the letter as submitted, plus Alex Beam's orginal column from August 30th.
⇒ Inconvenient Journalism
COMMUNICATING COMPLEXITY is one of the largest challenges facing both
scientists and journalists. Alex Beam dodges this challenge in his column by
suggesting that there isn't a scientific consensus on whether climate change exists.
The journal Science laid that debate to rest in December 2004 by showing that of
nearly a thousand peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, none concluded by
suggesting that human activities were not influencing the world's climate.
Furthermore, consensus is not synonymous with unanimity. Professor Lindzen is
correct when he points out there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding
climate mechanisms, natural and man-made. He and others are working to close
those knowledge gaps, and should not need a lawyer to do so. Today's debate is
not on whether climate change exists, but on how it will manifest itself, and what
we can do to mitigate its impacts and adapt to whatever changes do come.
Download the Letter to the Editor and the Alex Beam column (60k).
Musings on Sustainable Development...
Levels of Development...
The semantics of "development" have evolved over the years. What was "economic development" from the 1960s through the 1980s has transformed it itself into "sustainable development" in recent years following the Bruntland report, assisted by the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG).
One tricky discussion has always been, what do you call "underdeveloped" nations and regions. In the 1970s, an probably even earlier, "less developed" became "developing" presumably to indicate continuous improvement and not connote "backwards" economies.
Comparing my Peace Corps days in Benin, with recent trips to other "developing" nations like China and India, it is clear that some areas are less underdeveloped than others. This is reflected in term like "emerging economies," etc. Then I look at the economies of the so-called industrialized "North." These are not uniform either. Do we need yet another classification for the "high end" affluent economies. I think so. This is what I came up with.
⇒ Less Developed
Unfortuantely, some spots on the globe are truly less developed,
and through a variety of circumstances, likely to remain so for some
time to come. Many places in sub-Saharen Africa come to mind. Strife
and/or AIDS ridden Africa like Dafur, Somalia,
Zimbabwe and Botswana. Truly tough times and situations, so kudos
to Blair and the G8 for keeping it on the front burner, and to Gates and
Buffet for devoting their riches to help solve them.
This classification is for nations and regions that are on the move,
but are still in terms of quality of life, degree of economic activity,
etc. might not yet have hit thier stride. Smaller nations in Latin
America come to mind. A safe guess is that they are still on the cusp,
and greatly exposed to world economic conditions and the world commodity
prices for cotton, coffee, copper, etc.
Perhaps "rapidly emerging" would be a better term, but China and India
certainly fall into this category, as does Brazil and several others
such as many Eastern European nations.
Care should be taken however to assign this category to an entire nation.
Clearly East and Urban China, Mumbai, and other urban areas fall into this
category, but smaller cities and especially urban areas might still be
very much in the "Developing" and even "Less Developed" category. This may
also true for select regions of Developed and Over-Developed nations.
Europe. This is category for Europe, Japan and most of the other OECD
nations, commonly referred to as the "industrialized nations. However,
when you look at most OECD countries compared to the USA (and in some
respects Canada and Australia), you see a marked difference especially
in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per capita. So, another
category is needed.
With affluence in Europe and the USA being so close, but US citizens
using so much more energy, it could be argued (easily) that we are
"over-developed" and that with quality long-term planning and coordination
we could drive less (live less in our cars), and reduce our overall
resouce consumption, without reducing—and perhaps improving—
our overall quality of life. This is a tough challenge, and unfortunately
looking at some big box retailer and SUV trends in Europe, the USA may
not be the only "over-developed" economy for long.
Upcoming Bon Mots...
Development and Equity
⇒ The "Haves," "Have-Nots,"
Alternatives to R&D (&D&C)
⇒ Technology Development, Deployment
⇒ Technology Innovation, Integration