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I'd say the opposite. Many technologies have always been too dangerous to use, starting from coal onwards.

In the past they were used regardless and the health risks and environmental consequences were simply ignored. Victorian England was a prime example of this, with non-existent sanitation, slave-like worker conditions and a permanent smoggy haze that must have killed millions. But politically very little changed until after WWII. And even then some industries - nuke especially - have been in a permanent reactionary cover-up mode to pretend that the risks don't exist.

Now it's slowly seeping into public awareness that technology has its costs. The difference between then and now is that then it was possible to pretend that the costs were irrelevant.

Now it's becoming obvious how untrue that is.

Awareness is still patchy and it may be 25-50 years before it becomes the consensus. But Fukushima and the rest are helping make sure that change becomes possible.  

What's missing are similar changes in politics, finance and economics. Those worlds remain steadfastly Victorian in outlook - to everyone's detriment

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:52:00 AM EST
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Not a million miles away from your
I think there's a growing awareness that the old ways of doing things no longer work. Even if it's a minority interest, this is the first time in history there's any serious interest in thinking strategically on a planetary scale.

Psychological sophistication is much higher than it used to be. There's the beginning of an understanding that old assumptions about decision making and rationality are wrong.

...

Morality and awareness of human rights are more developed than ever. Politicians continue to ignore the developments, and there are still substantial elements of the population who are happy with the old ways. But there was barely any concept of humanitarian aid or human rights a century ago, and now these concepts are common currency.

Genocide used to be business as usual. What made Hitler and Stalin remarkable wasn't the scale of the genocide - except for mechanising death, they were hardly unusual in history - but that their actions were considered insane and unacceptable. Five hundred years ago they'd have been generic princelings, and nothing out of the ordinary.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:08:28 AM EST
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Perhaps what has happened is that the engineers have wised up, but the MBAs are still fat, dumb and happy.

Whether this has something to do with the fact that the MBAs are now doing the jobs that the engineers used to do back when the engineers were still fat, dumb and happy is left as an exercise for the reader.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 07:05:49 AM EST
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What it does do is insure that the decision makers are primarily trained in matters economic and administrative rather than technical. That does make a difference. I would like to see the backgrounds of the senior management at TEPCO.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 08:36:37 AM EST
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I'd disagree here, certainly. If people 300 years ago had decided that coal mining was too dangerous we'd be a lot worse off now. Sure, coal mining is dangerous. But not compared to living in a primitive pre-industrial society.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:14:23 PM EST
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