See What I Mean?

I just finished Michael Crichton’s new book, the State of Fear, and was more than a little impressed by it. It’s about how the politico-legal-media compex(think about it and you’ll understand what it means) hypes up the environmental threats in the world to make up for the “fear vacuum” in our lives after the fall of the USSR. The specific threat is global warming. And guess what I just saw at the BBC!!!

A team of UK researchers claims to have new evidence that global warming is melting the ice in Antarctica faster than had previously been thought. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (Bas) say the rise in sea levels around the world caused by the melting may have been under-estimated.It is thought that over 13,000 sq km of sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula has been lost over the last 50 years.The findings were announced at the Climate Change Conference in Exeter.Rising sea levelProfessor Chris Rapley, director of (Bas), told the conference that Antarctica could become a “giant awakened”, contributing heavily to rising sea levels.This is just an excerpt, but I have a feeling this is exactly what the great man was talking about. Don’t believe me? Go to spiked-online and read one of their articles on the precautionary principle. They’ve put it more eloquently than I can. Here are excerpts:Not so long ago, the precautionary principle was a new concept gaining marginal support within environmental policy. Now, it has become a value to which we all are supposed to subscribe.Even when UK prime minister Tony Blair delivered a major speech in 2002, self-consciously designed to celebrate scientific achievements and to set out a ‘clear challenge for Britain’ to improve science and technology, he was compelled to defend the maxim ‘better safe than sorry’. ‘None of thisÂ…should diminish the precautionary principle’, he told the Royal Society. ‘Responsible science and responsible policymaking operate on the precautionary principle.’ (1)But what is the precautionary principle, and why has it gained such an influence in society today?A central component of the precautionary principle is the shifting of the ‘duty of care’ or ‘onus of proof’ from those who oppose change, to those who propose change (2). We are encouraged to err on the side of caution, even when there is no evidence of harm.One of the most quoted definitions of the precautionary principle is the Wingspread Statement, produced by a gathering of scientists, philosophers, lawyers and environmental activists in the USA in 1998, which pronounces that: ‘When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.’ (3)The fact is, however, that most scientific and technological developments do raise possible ‘threats of harm’. Despite often minimizing, or even eradicating, old risks, they expose us to new and often unpredictable risks. It seems clear that an excessive preoccupation with hypothetical novel risks will be detrimental to scientific and technological progress, and to society as a whole. Yet these tensions have not prevented the rapid development of the precautionary principle in recent decades, and its incorporation into various spheres of life.The precautionary principle has its beginnings in the German ‘Vorsorgeprinzip’, or foresight principle etc.etc…

Shit,I’ve been online for 2 hours now. Gotta go!

Nikhil

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