Sunday, October 07, 2007

Social Epidemics

We just got back from Chicago where they had their giant Marathon race today in 90 degree temperatures. In fact, the weather there all week was warm, bordering on hot. It occurred to us all that perhaps the Second City may not be number two forever. A little warming will do the windy city some good, and unlike our other coastal cities, Chicago will not be fighting sea level rises in order to survive.

There is some serious building happening there. Trump is putting up a 92 story hotel right on the river and at least another half a dozen that size are going up right now. In the new Millenium Park, the Frank Gehry Pritzker Pavilion is stunning. And in case you didn't know, one of the WTC towers somehow transported itself there. They call it something else, like Aon Center, but it didn't fool me.

Meanwhile, their real estate prices are already reasonable and probably headed down. Could be that the first "You too can profit from the coming change in climate " investment is right there in the birthplace of contemporary architecture. Besides, the Blue Man Group is there.

Somehow, the Blueman show reminded me of this oldie from the first year of EFA. I added a little to the end.

I told some people tonight that we are at a tipping point.

Think of a scale.

One side is loaded with a pound of pebbles.

The other side is empty.

Every hour you add one pebble to the side that is up in the air.

Nothing happens.

Hour after hour,

Nothing happens.

Then one day, you add that last pebble, that last little rock,

and the whole thing changes, and it swings the other way.

Malcom Gladwell wrote a book about it in The Tipping Point .

It states that the tipping point is that dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once.

It is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point, a place where the unexpected becomes expected, where radical change is more than possibility.

Gladwell likes the social epidemic model. He describes his work this way,

It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller? Why do teens smoke in greater and greater numbers, when every single person in the country knows that cigarettes kill? Why is word-of-mouth so powerful? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? I think the answer to all those questions is the same. It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease.

They are social epidemics.

The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us. "

Whether it is a social epidemic model, or my scale with the pebbles metaphor, it is clear that things can and do change, and often quite unpredictably.

We are at a Tipping Point's Tipping Point.

People are losing faith in this War.

They think the President lied about the need to fight it.

More and more People know about the concept of Peak Oil.

And they suspect that this really is a war about Oil.

More and more people know that the scientific debate

on Climate Change

is over.

Now we must do something about it or simply be irresponsible.

We can either try to mitigate it through global treaties,

adapt to it by beginning to prepare for its ravages,

or defend against with a more powerful military force.

Some people are beginning to see that we have another option.

We don't have to have a war for oil,

because even if we win it,

it won't solve the climate change problem.

In academic circles,

there is this concept of memes

A meme is a idea that behaves like a virus

that moves through a population,

taking hold in each person it infects.

Moving away from the carbon and nuclear energy we use today,

letting go of our home made big fires,

and embracing our god given fusion reactor,

is a meme whose time has almost come.

More and more people are beginning to see

the reality of these forcing agents.

And as they do,

As they become infected with this meme of hope,

they will spread it to their neighbors,

And to their friends,

and to their partners.

They may even begin to believe it themselves.

And when we do,

hundreds of millions of lives,

will be spared,

And the War for Oil,

will instead metamorphose into a

Meme of Peace."

That's the kind of Social Epidemic

we can live with.





Anonymous Anonymous said...

the race was canceled because of heat. First time ever.

5:57 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

You might find this of interest re: climate change.
Criminals And Moralists Working Together

Enron Carbon Trading And Hansen

Enron And Carbon Trading

8:52 AM  

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