Monday, August 04, 2008
The modern world (and humans - apparently the Telegraph thinks we're at war with the world) we live in gets a bad rap. Cars, electricity, and so on are the villains of the day because of the massive amount of fossil fuels that they consume, and we better watch out because you know that the ice caps are going to melt and submerge the planet in a slow moving disaster that we're helpless to stop (never mind that there's enough conflicting evidence in the Global Warming debate to make you think twice about if humans can affect it one way or another - you're a backwoods moron if you question it, even if your name is Michael Crichton). (That was one epic sentence!) They are absolutely somewhat problematic, from a health perspective alone. The air quality in some areas is atrocious (Beijing being the most prominent example currently). This has led to a host of maladies that were unknown in earlier days. Nevertheless, if we take a step back and look at our quality of life even with polluted air or water, look at how far we have come in the past 100 years. Diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid used to be household fears. Now a lot of people in the first world haven't heard of them. Life expectancy is up, disease is down (except obesity, which is a function of too much largess and comfort. I think if you asked our ancestors what they thought about it, they'd jump at that being their only problem), and we're concerned about being broke because the retirement system we are saddled with is still stuck in the past. While I'm all for finding better ways to do things (fuel cells - are you there?), I think it's absolutely ridiculous to pull an Al Gore and rail against some of these things that have been the foundation for a better world and life for all of us.