Friday, September 19, 2014


I'm going to say that it looks like a pretty good list, and I have to figure that Richard Smalley, who is smarter than I am and has apparently thought about this a lot, should be listened to. Here is his site discussing this. Here is Smalley's wiki bio.

A few things jump out at me:  Population is #10, yet that's the one highlighted with picture and stats. Environment, which includes a whole lot of things in addition to climate change, is still only #4.  I wonder where AGW would rank in Smalley's calculations if it had to stand alone.

Even those there's plenty of interconnection among these and sharp lines are difficult to draw, it is instructive that Water ranks so high.  I would have thought that once remembered, it would have been #1, in fact. Yet there's not anywhere near as much national and international news and discussion about water as - well, as anything else on this list, and a lot of things that didn't even make it to the list.

I am reminded of Bjorn Lomborg, his book How To Spend $75 Billion to Make The World A Better Place, and the Copenhagen Consensus, which includes entries like corruption and trade barriers in addition to the water and sanitation entries. There's a TED talk, for those who like that sort of thing.


james said...

Agreed, though I'd drop "Democracy" and put "Good Government" in its place. A number of influential people seem to regard the procedures of democracy as magic: if the proper incantations are performed all will be good.

Water and energy are closely allied, of course: with energy you can get clean water much more easily.

james said...

BTW, on the Smalley nanotechnology site (was the pun intended?) the same picture links to the ecologicalsociology blog. A random sampling there is not encouraging--mixes of good and not so good ideas and magical thinking ("democratic wealth")

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, when I went for the image, that was where it directed me. Perhaps they had done up the graphic, which is why Population, which would be much more important to them ruled the text, and the generic environmental globe picture was chosen.

Just a disconnect, which I doubt they self-observe, but is sorta funny.