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Chapter 6: Deep Time

Despite being both reasonably clever and good with our hands, human beings are remarkably poor at planning over vast spans of time. Unfortunately, the problem of sequestering nuclear waste is one that requires us to engage in exactly the sort of long term planning that we most overlook. Present-day policymaking tend to be informed by implications in shorter timespans, which leaves a gap in how current-day decisions can be informed about effects and impacts in deep time.

For example, consider changes in the inhabitability of cities due to post-climate change flooding in cities like Groningen, New York, or Miami, and other places in a 'stand off' with the sea. How to think about the implications for economies, services, and resettlement in inland areas? Or, consider the example of nuclear waste storage, the most important effects of which may not be apparent for thousands of years. One problem for analysts and investigators becomes: How to imagine at least beyond three generations, and perhaps much further into the future, and how to prioritize the various categories of human life that are threatened long after everyone alive today is gone?

Looking at the future, what is the greatest problem you see in two or three generations? What is your prediction for the greatest challenge that humanity will face in 50 or 75 years? And where do we start to answer this question? What disciplinary fields do you think hold the key to the answer to your challenge?

Assignment: Write a short paragraph about what you think the greatest challenge is, and what disciplines or combination of disciplines (physics, genetics, humanities, social sciences, etc.) you think may hold the key to the answer.

Send your answers to ucg@rug.nl and we will have an expert provide feedback within two weeks.

Deep Time
Deep Time
Laatst gewijzigd:28 februari 2017 13:01