In my lifetime journalism has become increasingly short sighted and myopic in what it believes to be newsworthy. We live on a planet with 7 billion people (surprise!), 27% of whom are youth, and 450 million of whom suffer from mental illness. One in four people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Yet every time one of these 320 million people (because let’s face it, American journalists don’t care what happens outside America) kills a dozen or so other people, we lose all sense of perspective.
We should focus on the big news, and the people who struggle daily to get journalists to cover the good they do. There are a lot more of them than the crazies*, which makes it all the more frustrating that they are ignored by the news. (*99.9% of mentally ill people are not a threat to other people, and 90% are not even a threat to themselves. The ‘crazies’ a those 1 in a million people who dominate headlines by killing others)
Real significant news headlines:
Gliese 581g is a true Earth-like planet.
With the discovery of Gliese 581g, the sixth planet in the same solar system about 20 LY from Earth, scientists now believe that 20-30% of all suns have at least one habitable planet. It will take us 200 years to send a probe there and receive back ground data, but that is only 2 or 3 lifetimes – very feasible.
The Higgs Boson found
The Higgs Boson was found to exist with the amount of energy predicted, thus explaining how quantum particles gain the force we know as mass and gravity. Gravity is a little better understood, as well as crazy stuff like time travel and faster-than-light space travel. If it didn’t exist, we would be baffled about where Gravity comes from.
Peak Oil only 6 years in the future
Most projections since the 1970s have estimated that global demand for oil (needed for diesel, gasoline, plastics, and pharmaceutical drugs) will exceed global supply between 2016 and 2025. (Originally they thought as far as 2040 but growth of China as a consumer has narrowed that estimate) I am guessing it will be around 2018, which is 6 years in the future.
Other people are aware of this too, evidenced by the fact that everyone has stopped talking about it. (Similar to the Friday afternoon news phenomenon – anyone trying to ‘bury’ a story releases it at 3pm on Friday; anyone truly afraid of an impending unsolvable crisis stops talking about it when it becomes imminent. Our 20 year effort to curb demand failed, and now demand will simply curb our economy for us:
Higgs had its 5 minutes of fame, and Gliese never got noticed, and the dark knight continues to take over all news attention. Even global problems that will change life as we know it cannot compete with the shooting:
Today’s newsmap.jp shows us that journalism is no longer a public service, and that news is not a representative sample of what’s important to life as we know it:
That little tiny news article read: Goldilocks planet orbits into hot debate. The 7 top stories all relate to the shooting.
The good news is that these top three stories (on my list) provide us with the means, motive, and opportunity to change our future.
Means: The Higgs boson discovery will aid us in faster interstellar travel
Motive: Peak oil and the threat of climate chaos on Earth will be reason enough to wake up and focus on colonizing another planet before we destroy this one
Opportunity: Discovery of Gliese 581g provides us with the justification to travel to other stars with the confidence there will be habitable planets there. The nearest star would still be 60 years away with the best possible (untested) technology.
The alternative is to let the future be written by our inattention and inaction:
This post was not intended to imply that obsessing over the Colorado shooting will immediately lead to the decline of civilization, but rather that a consistent pattern of focusing on daily minutia leads to a future that is out of our control.