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Dan Bednarz, Ph.D.
Don Spady, M.D.
This issue brief calls for changes in medical school culture, primarily curriculum, research and clinical practice, as a conscious response to the simultaneously ongoing fiscal/economic crisis and what E.O. Wilson has termed the Bottleneck[i] of ecological dilemmas, shown most prominently but not exclusively as the worldwide peak in crude oil production. Together these forces will reconfigure modern society, particularly health care. We concur with Dennis Meadows, co-author of Limits to Growth,[ii] who claims that this is not a recession; rather “The real problem is physical growth in material and energy flows pressing against the limits of a finite planet.”[iii] Therefore, this is a sustainability crisis calling for ecologically informed, non-incremental public policies to transform social institutions.
Here we focus on awakening medical schools to their future in a world beset by fiscal disorder, economic contraction, unprecedented natural resource scarcity, and ecosystems disturbances[iv]. Read the rest of this entry »
Forecasts of Pittsburgh’s future cite education and medicine, complemented by entrepreneurial “green energy” and high-tech ventures, as engines of 21st century growth.
However, the country is entering its third year of economic contraction and fiscal crisis. In a recent column pundit David Brooks assures a return to prosperity is inevitable. Recall that three years ago he and many of his colleagues claimed that the economy was “humming along” and the financial sector was “innovative” with a “contained” problem in subprime mortgages. Read the rest of this entry »
Editors Note: This reprint is from Michael Tobis’ excellent Climate Change blog, “Only in it for the Gold.” It deals with the rampant and almost epic problem of the failure of science communication to prevent corruption of climate science. Eventually (many would argue it already has), the same techniques may very well be directed towards energy decline and its likely impact on modern health care and public health. It is one of the tenants of this site that many health professionals have not only the skills but the duty to lead efforts to redress this problem.
While reading Gerald Zaltman and Lindsay Zaltman’s Marketing Metaphoria: What deep metaphors reveal about the minds of consumers, (MM), I recalled a healthcare consultant who told me, “You really should market peak oil, but you’ve got to give folks some good news to win them over.” I laughed and replied, “Are you kidding? I’m not selling whiter teeth.” Turning serious, I went on, “Most people react by saying, ‘This just can’t be true.’ They think scientists will invent a cheap and endless supply of energy and we’ll live happily ever after. And if you try to tell them about thermodynamics and ecological limits, they tune out or say, ‘but Tom Friedman says….’ So I see no way into most heads except through crisis.”
“The greatest good is the knowledge of the union
which the mind has with the whole of nature.”
Ian Mitroff and Abraham Silvers’ book, Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely, addresses the inability, prevalent among political, economic and cultural elites and the highly educated who serve them, to think critically and properly formulate problems. This incapacity results in Type 3 Errors, which
“is the unintentional error of solving the wrong problems precisely. In sharp contrast, the Type 4 Error is the intentional error of solving the wrong problems.” (Pg. 5)
From Bill O’Reilly to Bill Moyers there is consensus that a return to growth is the remedy for what they see as an economic recession. Their political divisions arise over how to rekindle demand and consumption, with the right favoring a market led recovery and the left typically advocating massive government stimulus spending.
Were I to meet O’Reilly or Moyers I would ask, “Since we live on a finite planet, with finite resources, why is economic growth the solution and not the source of our dilemmas?” The failure of media, political, educational, scientific, and cultural leaders to consider this question illustrates what Joseph Campbell calls the power of myth. Questioning growth is at odds with our faith in the American Dream, whose main promise is that future generations are entitled to a higher material standard of living than their parents enjoyed.
For those wishing to contribute to the Haitian people at this moment of catastrophe, I would like to suggest a donation to Hopital Albert Schweitzer. Many donors are concerned about how their donations will be used by various relief agencies–what percentage will actually reach the Haitian people. This is not to imply that only Hopital Albert Schweitzer is worthy of your contributions; but it is to affirm that this is one institution where you can be assured your donation will directly benefit the Haitian people. Please visit their website for more information.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 49 million Americans — one in seven — struggled to get enough to eat in 2008, the highest total in 14 years of a federal survey on “food insecurity,” the U.S. government said Monday.
Jessica Pierce, PhD
It is well over a decade now since environmental concerns became pressing enough to command attention in almost all realms of intellectual and practical affairs, and well over four decades since environmental ethics developed as a recognizable field of study in response to a growing set of global problems. Yet in contrast to this broad trend, environmental concerns have remained at the farthest margins of bioethics. As improbable as it seems, bioethics has remained tuned out and disconnected from the ecological realities of our current world.
|Where will you go when the sewers clog up? Where will you go when the porcelain finally cracks? Where will you go when the Toilet Duck quacks its last?
Let’s go back to the beginning…
Keith Farnish is a writer, philosopher and radical environmental campaigner who lives in Essex, UK with his family and his garden. His book, Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis, was published in September 2009 by Chelsea Green in the USA. The book is available for free via amatterofscale.com. He is also author of The Earth Blog where the above article first appeared. He also runs the anti-greenwashing site The Unsuitablog.