There are a handful of actors who are the most likely to cause a global catastrophe, but their power goes unchecked, says Luke Kemp.
Why “Learning to Live With the Pandemic” is an Intellectual Fraud and a Moral Disgrace
There’s something ugly happening which even I find shocking…
Every day that I go on Twitter — which isn’t every day, thankfully — a sight that’s spectacularly foolish and repellent greets me. No, not the bigots or supremacists or fanatics. In this case, it’s just…doctors and scientists in positions of power…government advisers and so forth…who are politicising the pandemic. In an especially ugly way, which everyone should call out.
“New ideas no longer fuel economic growth the way they once did,” the economists Jay Bhattacharya and Mikko Packalen wrote. In the past few decades, citations have become a key metric for evaluating scientific research, which has pushed scientists to write papers that they think will be popular with other scientists. This causes many of them to cluster around a small set of popular subjects rather than take a gamble that might open a new field of study.
I remember exactly what I thought when I first saw this picture: Hey, it looks like Hollywood! Driven by popularity metrics, scientists, like movie studios, are becoming more likely to tinker in proven domains than to pursue risky original projects that might bloom into new franchises. It’s not that writers, directors, scientists, and researchers can’t physically come up with new ideas. But rather that something in the air—something in our institutions, or our culture—was constraining the growth new ideas. In science, as in cinema, incrementalism is edging out exploration.
I couldn’t get the thought out of my head: Truly new ideas don’t fuel growth the way they once did. I saw its shadow everywhere.
“The most insidious threat to humankind is something called “extinction debt.” There comes a time in the progress of any species, even ones that seem to be thriving, when extinction will be inevitable, no matter what they might do to avert it. The cause of extinction is usually a delayed reaction to habitat loss. The species most at risk are those that dominate particular habitat patches at the expense of others, who tend to migrate elsewhere, and are therefore spread more thinly. Humans occupy more or less the whole planet, and with our sequestration of a large wedge of the productivity of this planetwide habitat patch, we are dominant within it. H. sapiens might therefore already be a dead species walking.”
“Every second breath we take comes from marine photosynthesis, a process which also uses 60-90% of our carbon dioxide. If we have lost 50% of the very thing that regulates the climate, surely it is time to stop, take a fresh look at ocean chemistry and biodiversity and ask ourselves some fundamental questions: ‘Why have we lost this level of marine life? Why is the decline continuing? What does this mean for our climate and humanity?’
“Of particular concern from a climate change perspective is the level of carbonic acid in the oceans, which is the result of atmospheric carbon dioxide being dissolved into the oceans. In the 1940’s pH was 8.2, but in 2020, pH had dropped to it 8.04, meaning the ocean is becoming more acidic. If there are no plants to use the ‘carbon’ for photosynthesis, this leaves unused carbonic acid to move the pH downwards. Reports from respected institutes around the globe, flag an acceleration of the ocean acidification process, which will result in the loss of more marine plants and animals, especially those that have carbonate shells and body structures (aragonite) based. These same reports forecast that in 25 years, pH will drop to 7.95 (2045) and with this, they estimate 80% to 90% of all remaining marine life will be lost – that in the GOES team’s opinion is a tipping point; a planetary boundary which must not be exceeded if humanity is to survive.”
How big is the problem of brain pollution? Well, for a start, advertising is everywhere. Its pervasive intrusion into our daily lives and brains is what makes it so powerful and effective.
It is so prevalent that we barely actively notice it anymore, much like the fine particulates of air pollution that enter our lungs unnoticed.
In 2017, an individual in the US was expected to encounter between 4,000-10,000 adverts daily. And these figures have been on a steep curve – almost doubling since 2007 – with the advent of digital advertising.
The car sector globally is estimated to have spent over $35.5 billion on advertising in key global markets in 2018 – roughly equal to the annual income of a country like Bolivia.
But, exposure to adverts lead us to focus more on so-called ‘extrinsic values’, those guiding our sense of competitiveness and greed through conformity, image, financial success, achievement and power – and less on ‘intrinsic values’ those that govern our feelings of empathy and caring towards others, expressed through affiliation, self-acceptance, community feeling, benevolence.
Advertising sets out to increase the consumption of products and services and the sector is getting bigger. But overconsumption of superfluous, non-essential goods is driving planetary breakdown.
“Before it gets to market, a ‘ranched’ tuna can eat more than fifteen times its weight in free-roaming fish that has been converted to fishmeal. About a quarter of all fish caught globally at sea end up as fish meal, produced by factories like those on the Gambian coast.”