Archives for: February 2014
Where is the border between "a few" and "many"? Imagine you start counting apples. One, two, three - that is still just a few, right? So you keep going - four, five (is it many yet?), six, seven (is it many yet?), eight, nine... It is really hard to say when a few becomes many. Our awareness level of slow moving threats is kind of like that. The danger is increasing but it is hard to pinpoint that day when we cross the border and the danger becomes clear and present.
Many in Europe are raising doubts about the pace of immigration, especially from undeveloped world. For now, there seems to be no immediate concern, but what about the future? At what point will the composition of the society change its long term dynamics? And if we do determine there is a problem, will we have enough power to stop it at that point? Or will the inertia push social glacier over the edge?
The same mechanism operates in the case of global warming. No one really knows whether we have reached the point of no return. The climate is not a linear process. It is a confluence of several factors each acting within its own time scale. To separate these into the individual components amenable to analysis and understanding seems to be a Herculean task. Some say we are going to freeze over, some say the Earth will turn into an inferno and some think we'll be just fine. The problem is that by the time all experts agree there is a problem, it will be too late.
This winter brought us a few snow days. Some would say many. Whether it was really many and whether it will have long term implications remains to be seen.