Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Interesting Interview ~ Is knowledge outstripping our ability to deal with it?

A few weeks back, I was listening to the CBC program The Current on the drive to Brandon.One of the interviews was with E.O. Wilson, the eminent evolutionary biologist. At one point the host asked about the current oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. His response (paraphrased) was that we (especially Americans) are so self confident that they think that any problems that arise will be solved as they arise. In other words, we go ahead with projects and ideas without taking the time to think about the consequences, we just think that if something comes up it will be dealt with then. He posits that our society is getting too complicated and that we can't handle the big crises that our coming up. Advancements in knowledge and technology is outstripping our ability to use our wisdom to deal with the big problems. We need a better understanding of ourselves as species, we have had great progress, but also great danger. I am not going all 'luddite', but his words made me think, especially now that the oil has been leaking for almost a month and is produced an oil 'glob' that is many kilometers long and wide. (Wilson is not a technophobe either - as his TED talk and web site below show.) In my previous post, I brought up how nature - the volcano in Iceland - still grounds flights from time to time. While the latter example shows that Nature still trumps man, the oil disaster does reinforce Wilson's ideas. We must think carefully about the ramifications of of our progress and not let the almighty dollar be our guide. I am not saying that we should quit progressing, however, we need to be critical thinkers and reflect and consider the possible consequences instead of "ready ... shoot ... aim".

This is an interesting interview - take a few minutes to give it a listen (link above).
Some links: E.O. Wilson's Biodiversity Foundation.
The Boston Globe: Gallery of photos of this disaster.

TED Talk : E.O. Wilson talks about "Saving Life on Earth"