Science, technology and the danger of populism

In 2007, this progress trap project drew attention to the flaws of science and technology, especially with regard to the environment. Stephen Hawking's 2016 concession that: “Most of the threats we face come from the progress we’ve made in science and technology"1 confirmed that the book's argument had merit, and predictive value. The Syrian war, for example, has been a stark illustration of the contribution of climate change to drought, fueling conflict.2 , 3 Based on that, one can predict that environmental damage to vulnerable communities will trigger widespread conflict, with increasing involvement of major powers4. Note that south Asian countries are at risk from climate change and some have considerable nuclear stockpiles.5

This is an excerpt from Chapter 9, Playing God:

    "Why is science flawed? Can the causes of these flaws be determined? Can the potential harm, no matter how well-intentioned, be minimized or removed? These are questions that defy science’s conventional view of itself as inherently good and progressive. It is imperative for humanity’s future security that science take stock of itself.
      Complicating the issue is the fact that one of the permanent features of western science is its discomfort with paradoxes. A scientific inquiry into concepts alien to science—such as scientific criticism of science—would be a paradoxical venture. Now, it is not impossible that there are non-scientific cultures, quite comfortable with the paradoxical, which would eventually and inevitably do the job of conducting critical analysis, and possibly take control, of science. An extreme reactionary government might do this, as would a disgruntled popular movement, or any force whose power base is not sympathetic to science."





4. "Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
  While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas." - US Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review, February 2010


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"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)