Brenda Cooper

The Futurist Reads Her Sunday Times

From time to time, people ask me what it takes to be a futurist.  Really, it’s an interest in thinking about the future and a habit of keeping my eye’s open.  I think there is one other bit:  the desire to make the world a better place in the future.

I stay aware of what’s happening in the world, paying special attention to politics, culture, economics, and science.

I read the daily newspaper.  In paper.  I almost canceled it Saturday when they called to get a fresh and unexpired credit card number from me, but I couldn’t do it.  And then the paper today was full of good stuff.

The main story on page 1 is by a Seattle Times Environment reporter (so I might not get it by reading just AP).  The headline reads “Is the Pacific Ocean’s Chemistry killing sea life?” and there is a compelling quote “…shifts in ocean chemistry associated with carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels may be impairing sea life faster and more dramatically than expected.”    If I put this together with other things I’ve read – like sea ice melting faster than expected and even Antarctica melting faster than expected — then it’s really scary.

The other two scary parts are on page A14 and A15 – articles about North Korea wanting nuclear weapons and about the unrest in Iran (and to give the Seattle Time more credit than CNN – it did start on page 1).   North Korea worried me more in the long run than the short run, but the general idea that we haven’t really gotten nuclear non-proliferation right yet is a concern we seem to have mostly forgotten about.  We’re paying it so little attention that I won’t be surprised if we get terrorists with access soon.  Can you say Pakistan?  And the Iranian election is tough because this is the guy who doesn’t believe in history, and for whom the the holocaust never happened.  We need leaders who lead based on science.  Faith is fine, but not faith that science is wrong, since I just don’t believe it is.  Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes its good, but it’s a good way to be thinking.

Still in section 1, a good idea.  Paint our roofs white.  Reflect that sunlight instead of absorbing it.  Mind you, we just bought a new roof, and I don’t know how well white paint would sit on our composite roof.  I would have bought a light one, at least, if the thought had occurred to me three years ago.  The idea is sound, and I’ve been hearing about it for a while from the environmental folks at CH2MHILL.

On the “probably good” side of the news, the UN is after us to review US raids.   Do we want this particular review?  Not likely, nor are we likely to be subject to it.  But the more light shines on all governments the more accountable we are, and the better the world will be.  I know that sounds simplistic, but power bears watching.

Later on, there is much good news and hope about graduations.  We have a crop of graduates out here (and everywhere, I’m sure) from all levels of school.  The paper is full of hope and well wishes for them. In general, the new graduates are lauded as caring about the world.