Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

A philosopher at Oxford University, Toby Ord explains the risks we are taking here on spaceship earth:

“We have done many things to exacerbate the risk: some that could make pandemics more likely to occur, and some that could increase their damage. Thus even “natural” pandemics should be seen as a partly anthropogenic risk. Our population now is a thousand times greater than over most of human history, so there are vastly more opportunities for new human diseases to originate. And our farming practices have created vast numbers of animals living in unhealthy
conditions within close proximity to humans. This increases the risk, as many major diseases originate in animals before crossing over to humans. Examples include HIV (chimpanzees), Ebola (bats), SARS (probably bats) and influenza (usually pigs or birds). Evidence suggests that diseases are crossing over into human populations from animals at an increasing rate.
“Modern civilization may also make it much easier for a pandemic to spread. The higher density of people living together in cities increases the number of people each of us may infect. Rapid long-distance transport greatly increases the distance pathogens can spread, reducing the degrees of separation between any two people. Moreover, we are no longer divided into isolated populations as we were for most of the last 10,000 years. Together these effects suggest that we might expect more new pandemics, for them to spread more quickly, and to reach a higher percentage of the world’s people.

Source: The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity

II.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt on fear in a time of crisis:

“This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

Source: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933

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