5. But, again I digress. Because from my little romp through quantum physics and Buddhism, the thoughts about interdependence did bring me back to my interest in risk and the recent book, FoolProof – Why Safety can be Dangerous and Danger can make us Safe by Greg Ip.
“Fear serves a purpose: it keeps us out of trouble. On the other hand, it’s not much fun; …. This tension also bedevils the people whose job it is to steer our economy and manage our surroundings. Philosophically, they fall into two schools of thought. One which I call engineers, seek to use the maximum of our knowledge and ability to solve problems and make the world safer and more stable; the other, which I call the ecologists, regard such efforts with suspicion, because given the complexity and adaptability of people and the environment, they will always have unintended consequences that may be worse than the problem we are trying to solve.”
My experience has been that I tend to be an ecologist in my thinking, but an engineer in my implementation.
"Foolproof safety is a moving target, with competing prescriptions from engineers and ecologist. Engineers satisfy our desire for control, for eliminating the anxiety that comes with uncertainty and the unknown. They fulfill civilizations need to act, to do something, to take the existing chaotic mess and make it better. … As ecologist know, forests, bacteria and economies are irrepressibly adaptable. Every step we take to suppress the risks they present in the short term will provoke some other offsetting step whose consequences will only show up in the long term."
Bacteria are irrepressibly adaptable, that suggests that instead of the destruction of microbes we should be searching for some cohabitation or better yet collaboration. Stuart Levy is a microbiologist and physician describes antibiotics as "societal drugs", drugs where one person's use "exposes the rest of society to a slightly greater risk of resistant bacteria." That is not the case with other drugs, say a anti-hypertensive where my use does not impact your health (although the econs will say that it does impact your wealth).
Brad Spellberg of USC says
"we are not going to win a war against a species that outnumbers us by 10 to the power of 22, outweigh us by 100 million, replicate 500,000 times faster than we do and have been doing this for 10,000 times longer than our species has existed. We need to achieve peaceful coexistence."
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