Friday, March 31, 2006

Toward a More Holistic Approach

One of the major obstacles, I believe, to solving our planet's problems is that there is such a disconnect between the way we need to look at a problem and the "political" solutions that are considered. Imagine it this way: the earth is one organism, but we treat it as if the boundaries we have drawn actually mean something. That's like saying you have a fever, but only in one leg.

This administration has refused to sign on to Kyoto for various reasons, among them the fact that Kyoto excluded India and China (and with so many people, maybe it would be a good idea for them to be included), and that millions ofjobs will be lost if the strictures of Kyoto have to be followed in the U.S. Maybe nobody projected how many millions of lives will be lost if the sea level rises 20 feet. Jobs or lives, ummmm, let's see.The following link is a quick overview of the issues. There is a remark in this article that suggests the holistic approach that I think is necessary in thinking about almost any problem we face. The author posits that if the U.S. and other industrialized nations cut their consumption of coal, oil and gas, the cost of those fuels will go down and make them more affordable to developing nations. So, while we're cutting, they're increasing emissions. Hmm, not much of a solution for the planet, is it?

In terms of stem cell research, this holistic approach is also necessary. Is it a good idea to develop therapies that will regenerate a smoker's lungs so that the tobacco companies can continue to profit from tobacco addiction? Should we offer an alcoholic a new liver when his old one disintegrates from cirrhosis? Of course, no one is talking about that much yet, because the field is so new that the focus is naturally on curing disease - Parkinson's, spinal injuries, cancer, heart failure, etc. There are many other "moral" issues besides whether or not to use embryonic stem cells for research. With the coming election cycle approaching, I suggest asking candidates whether they think it's a good idea for our most eminent scientists to be forced to leave the U.S. because another country offers them money, a state-of-the-art lab, and the support of the government? This link is very informative.

Have a great weekend! We're expecting 80 degree weather here in Phoenix.

Post a Comment