“Not yet.” This concept applies in first aid and it would be prudent to apply it when evaluating the numerous threats currently facing our civilization.
This may have been the most important concept I learned when I took an industrial first aid course some years ago. The course was focused on an examination and the instructor repeatedly told us, if the examiner asks if a seriously injured patient requires immediate transport to hospital the appropriate answer could be “not yet.” This recognizes that the patient’s condition could deteriorate and requires constant monitoring.
We know from experience that when people have been injured they sometimes die and first aid people know that some of their patients need to arrive at a hospital within an hour. When dealing with civilizations this is not quite so obvious unless one looks at history over several millenia.
There are numerous threats to our civilization including overpopulation, climate warming, agricultural collapse, resource depletion, nuclear war or an electromagnetic pulse from the sun which could fry all computer chips
Some people take these threats seriously and others dismiss them. A favorite argument is that predictions have not come true therefore they are invalid. For example, look at this put down of Paul Ehrlich for his overpopulation prediction. Just because a prediction doesn’t come true in a time frame does not mean it is invalid. Sometimes predictions do not take everything into account. For example higher prices for resources increase the supply of those resources as more difficult deposits become available. One needs to monitor the continuing supply of resources and the consequences of the higher prices.
Sometimes people have difficulty with things they don’t want to hear and one’s hearing may depend upon the color of hat one is wearing. A person with a good job that appears secure may find it more difficult to accept negative predictions than a person who is without a job and in danger of becoming homeless.
Through the millenia all previous civilizations have collapsed. Is our’s going to be the first to survive forever? Perhaps ignorance is bliss and we should ignore the warning signs. On the other hand if we say “not yet” then we can monitor the situation and plan how we will cope if it does get worse.
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