How we make a cult of fantastical risks, while ignoring real risks

A. Zarkov writes:

The recent earthquakes that hit Haiti should give us perspective on geophysical hazards. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, droughts, landslides, wildfires—all pose a much more immediate and much greater risk than global warming, asteroid collisions, and other potential planet busting cataclysms. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the San Francisco Bay Area (where I live) has about 2/3 chance of suffering a major earthquake (magnitude greater than 6.7) within the next 30 years. The damage to this densely populated area will be truly horrific. Few people realize that between 1907 and 1950 San Francisco had no building codes (according to the History Channel). If this is true, then most of the residential property is flimsily constructed like Haiti. The Victorian row houses one finds throughout SF are nothing like the sturdy brownstones in New York City. I can’t help thinking that most of these homes will collapse on their owners in the event of an earthquake as strong as the one in 1906. While the liberals do worry about earthquakes because they worry about everything, the concern is nowhere near the concern about global warming. Does it make sense to divert massive funds to a possibly imaginary risk 100 years in the future instead of the more immediate risks with hazards we know exist?

LA replies:

But Mr. Zarkov, addressing those more immediate risks doesn’t necessitate turning off industrial civilization, erecting a global government, and transforming the nature of humanity itself. So where’s the pay-off?

As for the latter point, there’s a new book out called The Empathic Civilization (I forget the author’s name at the moment) which says that if we don’t transform human nature in the next few decades, humanity will be destroyed by environmental disaster.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 14, 2010 04:51 PM | Send

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