Some months ago, our correspondent Victor replying to a posting I had made on the environmental and climate change issues confronting the world, used the word resilience and suggested that whatever the actual emerging climatic or environmental threats facing us, we need to build much more resilient societies.
This got me thinking and my Top Ten Suggestions to Make the US More Resilient (and for that matter the UK and other western countries facing a rapidly changing world) are set out below. I know many of my contemporaries are very worried about the world they are bequeathing to their children and this speaks to that feeling too.
- Environmentally sustainable: whatever the challenges we face on the environment, it is clear that we do not have a remotely sustainable economy. We can dream of magic fixes from science, but it is probably better to consider radical overhaul of our economies to stop us dying in our own waste products. We have already accomplished miracles in this, but stopped being serious in the 21st century. We need to resume and also do the fundamental research as some scientific miracles would help too.
- Energy independent: nuclear power is the only game in town in the short run and a major program is essential. In parallel, we can develop alternative fuel strategies and start re-shaping our societies to be less energy intensive, better insulated and the electric grid needs to be made much more resilient and small local nuclear power could be part of that.
- Food independent: I doubt it is sensible for countries to rely largely on food resources from outside if they can possibly avoid it
- Water Security: many of the world’s drier regions will face massive water shortage problems as climate changes and population increases. So efforts to make more efficient usage are essential. This is a major issue for the US south west and of course Africa and therefore Europe if it doesn’t want massive refugee issues.
- More Egalitarian: societies under stress do not need massive fights between the haves and have nots as China will find out soon. We would do well to remember that one of the drivers for the European welfare state and the US New Deal was to overcome the lethal divisiveness of the 1930s. This is not to advocate extreme redistribution downwards, but to consider reversing some of the extreme redistribution upwards of recent decades in many countries through a better balanced economy.
- Militarily Secure: we are going to be living in a dangerous world militarily and it is time military strategy became waste averse and dictated by national and international alignments and not by the defense lobby.
- Wealth Creating: we need to find a fundamental way for advanced countries to earn their living without protectionism. Very hi-tech manufacturing using lean principles and automation should be a massive priority and the Left needs to stop ignoring the importance of wealth generation as it focuses on redistribution and the environment. And of course this wealth generation needs to be environmentally sustainable too.
- Healthy: healthcare is very wasteful and not effective; as populations age we need really innovative approaches to the provision of healthcare (lean, automated, hi-tech) as well as fair ways to distribute it.
- Less Materialistic: to avoid the fate of decadence that often overtakes ‘late civilizations’ it might be helpful to become less obsessed with material goods and competitive races to achieve them and media fueled status. This may be the really tough one. 🙂
- Better Educated: democracy doesn’t work without an a scientifically literate electorate able to look at the complexity of the issues we face, understand them and make informed choices. And an electorate with a basic education in the humanities is essential to make good choices on what we should value. We have dumbed down society and that may do us in. Not to mention how many of our problems need really deep research effort and tapping of all our human talent, not just the children of the elites. This educated electorate might handle conflict better too. 🙂