Friday, July 07, 2006

Stephen Hawking's question

Recently Yahoo, in order to drum up interest in 'Yahoo questions,' began asking a sequence of ten celebrities or people known as deep thinkers to ask a question, for the community to answer (no, I didn't get asked to submit one, despite the title of this blog.)

Award winning astrophysicist and author Stephen Hawking was asked, and not surprisingly came up with a very insightful question.

He asked, In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?

Hawking's groundbreaking research on black holes and the origins of the universe has made him one of the best-known theoretical physicists of his generation. Author of the global best-seller "A Brief History of Time," Hawking is known for proposing that space and time have no beginning and no end.

Lately, he has been pondering the fate of humans.

In a speech June 13 in Hong Kong, Hawking said the survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy Earth.

He said that if humans can avoid killing themselves in the next 100 years, they should have space settlements that can continue without support from Earth.

If you would like to answer Hawking's question (you have to be a registered member of Yahoo!), you can go here.

I answered it, and the rest of the post is my answer:

Given the fact that we are up against a suddenly limited world-- limited space, limited resources, limited time to do anything about it, we should change our paradigm to where unnecessary waste of resources is considered socially unacceptable. This could mean higher taxes on things like gasoline and water, with the taxes going to finance research and construction of more efficient means of transportation, water use and space utilization. There was a time when the earth was wide open to a person with a dream, and it still is, but 'wide open' (implying resources just available for the taking) must be replaced with the description that the world is 'full of opportunities and needs awaiting a dream' to fulfill them.

Also, the biggest of all wastes, war, in which massive amounts of resources are used simply to destroy other creations and resources (including most importantly human resources), must be considered as archaic as, for example, the medieval torture chamber, slavery and witchcraft trials. This means that the U.N. has to have the teeth to enforce resolutions (perhaps by expanding the security council to 21 with 11 permanent members-- Japan, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia being given 'veto' power, but with 'veto' now meaning a 'double veto'-- that two permanent members of the council must exercise a veto in order for it to stick, or one permanent member with a majority of the ten non-permanent members. In addition to focusing on expanding the power of the U.N., it has to be stated explicitly that the developed nations of the world must foster development, hope and wise use of resources in the underdeveloped nations of the world. Desperate people without hope are the most likely to follow leaders who desire war.

Further, once developing nations are fully developed, it will end many of the immigration problems we see today, as well as serving the world as a whole as the underdeveloped world today is wasting resources through inefficiency. Pollution is the tangible product created by this inefficiency.

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