Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Scientist - Blueprint for a better world

Hmmmm . . . interesting approach. Seems more than a little short-sighted and materialistic to me. Maybe if human beings cultivated compassion rather than seeking wealth, most of these problems would be resolved.

(Image: 33RPM / Dutch Uncle)

We live in an imperfect world. Poverty, disease, lack of education, environmental destruction - the problems are all too obvious. Many people don't have clean water, let alone enough food, and the unsustainable lifestyle of the wealthy few is storing up catastrophic climate change.

Can we do anything about it? You bet we can. Technology is a double-edged sword, but science and reason have made our lives immeasurably better overall - and only through science and reason can we hope to make a real difference in the future. So here and over the next three weeks, New Scientist will explore diverse ideas for making the world a better place, and the evidence backing them.

This week, we look at some radical ideas for transforming society and changing the way countries are run. We also examine the state of the world as it is today, to see whether things are getting better or worse (see image).

Next week, we'll report on what you as an individual can do to make a difference. Then we'll explore what many see as the fundamental problem: overpopulation. And finally, we'll ponder the profound and long-lasting changes we are making to our home planet.

Beware of common sense

If governments are serious about achieving their aims, they must base their decisions on hard evidence and not received wisdom


Legalise drugs

Staff from the Central Bureau of Narcotics destroy the opium poppy crop, Kashmir, India (Image: Sipa Press / Rex)

Far from protecting us and our children, the war on drugs is making the world a much more dangerous place


Give police your DNA

A woman gives a blood sample for DNA matching (Image: Sipa Press / Rex)

The only fair, effective answer to the question of whose DNA profiles police should keep is: everybody's


"The best way to make the world a better place is to make it not the only place for us. We should establish a self-supporting colony on Mars."
J. Richard Gott

Read more


"I think that our best course of action is to spend at least as much effort adapting to global heating as in attempts to slow or stop it happening."
James Lovelock

Read more


Redefine the bottom line

Governments need to find better ways of measuring progress than simply looking at wealth


Find out if we can cool the planet

Can we use technology to halt climate change? (Image: Gaetan Charbonneau / Workbook Stock / Getty)

We need to do our homework rather than simply assume geoengineering can stave off disaster


Tax carbon and give the money to the people

Coal mines, like this one in China, could be taxed (Image: China Photos / Getty)

Goods should be taxed to reflect the damage they do to the planet, with revenues redistributed to society


Learn to love genetic engineering

It might not be "natural", but GM could help us overcome a host of problems (Image: Brand New Images / Stone / Getty)

The technology environmentalists love to hate really could play a big role in saving the planet


"One of the biggest problems we face today is a feeling of helplessness. It is desperately important for us to understand that each one of us does make a difference."
Jane Goodall

Read more


"On a global scale, the best and most effective insurance policy for mankind would have to be legislative and economic protection of our surviving rainforests."
Richard Branson

Read more


End the pillaging of the high seas

We must put a stop to the free-for-all out on the oceans to have any chance of saving their riches from the ravages of climate change


Generate a feed-in frenzy

Paying people who generate green energy and feed it back to the grid is the best way to boost uptake of renewable energy


Take Friday off… forever

The four-day week could boost employment, save energy and make us happier

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