19/3/2007

Fear and Threats and Life

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:24 pm

I guess I’ve tended to concentrate on climate change stuff here, basically because those are the arguments I’ve been having and that’s been stimulating my thinking. But in terms of the threats to our long-term comfort and survival, climate is only one of several.

We tend to think we’ve dodged the bullet on nuclear war, with the end of the Cold War standoff, but much of the arsenal is still in existence, and a fair bit of it is still primed for attack. There are a large number of nuclear powers, and there are poorly accounted for nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union floating around. And then there’s the Bush Administration which has actively drawn up plans for the use of ‘tactical nuclear weapons’ (smaller scale bombs for specific targets smaller than city size) and seems to have a fair bit of enthusiasm about them and few compunctions about using them. I’m much more worried about nations with nukes than terrorists with nukes, personally… but the latter is a possibility… or a ‘dirty bomb’ that uses conventional explosives to spread radioactive material and make an area uninhabitable.

One of the big imponderables is asteroids… the earth shows evidence of a number of major asteroid strikes in its history, including the one that seems to be the most likely suspect in the demise of the dinosaurs. We really just don’t know (and aren’t funding enough research to find out) when the next big rock is going to land on us from space… it’s an imponderable but a very real threat.

Avian flu is still simmering away as a threat, with occasional outbreaks. It, or something like an Ebola that evolves to be less virulent so it can spread, or an escaped biological weapon, or a resurgent smallpox, or a particularly nasty flu, could carry off a lot of us pretty quick. And we shouldn’t forget that AIDS is killing millions each year in Africa right now, and spreading into Asia and the Pacific.

These are threats we know about, but it’s much more likely that we’ll be ambushed by a threat we haven’t even thought about.

Terrorism is actually well down my personal list of threats to be worried about.

I won’t be flying in Indonesia on an Indonesian carrier after one plane basically cracked up on landing and another crashed killing 21 people.

But we’re probably each individually more likely to be killed in a car accident than in any of these ways anyway.

My personal belief is that you can either be paralysed by fear and let it rule your life, or you can live as though there is no cause to be afraid. Don’t be stupid with your life, but like the sword of faith, you’ll be more effective if you hold the sword of life loosely.

One response to “Fear and Threats and Life”

  1. Sirdar says:

    I agree with the part about not living in fear. If we live in fear than we don’t live.

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