…because he makes presentations like this one, which are very good. He links many things I’ve been thinking about–complexity, information and its effect on behavior, how bad things are suddenly good things again, how Ehrlich is a dangerous demagogue, counterintuition.
The link goes to an annotated lecture with slides that most emphatically does not suck.
…the assumptions I am talking about today represent another kind of mapâ€”a map that tells us the way the world works. Since this is a lecture on complexity, you will not be surprised to hear that one important assumption most people make is the assumption of linearity, in a world that is largely non-linear. I hope by the end of this lecture that the meaning of that statement will be clear. But we wonâ€™t be getting there in a linear fashion.
Some of you know I have written a book that many people find controversial. It is called State of Fear, and I want to tell you how I came to write it. Because up until five years ago, I had very conventional ideas about the environment and the success of the environmental movement.
The book really began in 1998, when I set out to write a novel about a global disaster. In the course of my preparation, I rather casually reviewed what had happened in Chernobyl, since that was the worst manmade disaster in recent times that I knew about.
What I discovered stunned me. Chernobyl was a tragic event, but nothing remotely close to the global catastrophe I imagined. About 50 people had died in Chernobyl, roughly the number of Americans that die every day in traffic accidents. I donâ€™t mean to be gruesome, but it was a setback for me. You canâ€™t write a novel about a global disaster in which only 50 people die.
Undaunted, I began to research other kinds of disasters that might fulfill my novelistic requirements. Thatâ€™s when I began to realize how big our planet really is, and how resilient its systems seem to be. Even though I wanted to create a fictional catastrophe of global proportions, I found it hard to come up with a credible example. In the end, I set the book aside, and wrote Prey instead.
But the shock that I had experienced reverberated within me for a while. Because what I had been led to believe about Chernobyl was not merely wrongâ€”it was astonishingly wrong. Letâ€™s review the data.
I do recommend Crichton’s work here. Maybe you won’t click on volcano documentaries, but click on this one, all right?
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