Friday, June 27, 2008

Day 12: End of Another Week

This is the end of another working week - the second as I am counting from the submission of my visa application - and though I haven't achieved any major milestone in the last few days, I end this week feeling far more content and in control than I was last Friday. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest one surely is that I could instill a bit of discipline in life. I start travelling starting next Monday, but I have to watch out and not lose control again. The next week is sure going to be rough, as I am mostly staying away, with limited access to Internet, and attending so many meetings. However, considering that I haven't travelled since the 7th of May - OK, wrong, haven't travelled for work since then - this is going to be a bit of a break and return of normalcy.

Today there is also the big birthday party for Nelson Mandela in the Hyde Park, which I spent time watching. Mandela was late, but when you are 90, no one minds if you come to your birthday party late. It was labelled 46664 - that's the name of Mandela's foundation apparently, which fights HIV AIDS - named after Mandela's prisoner number. He was Prisoner number 466 interned in 1964. Mandela appeared and spoke very briefly - he talked about Free Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembly 20 years back [June 11, 1988 to be exact] and reminded everyone that the fight isn't over yet - and it was indeed a poignant moment. As I learnt from the broadcast, there were 46,664 people there in today's concert, I wondered how they managed that, unless they are just talking about the audience, which is limited by the number of passes issued.

Interestingly, there is another news today which relates to the worldwide campaign against AIDS. Today was Bill Gates' last working day at Microsoft - equally significant, as that signals the end of an era in all senses. It is impossible to think that Gates can ever retire, especially for my generation of people, whose entire adulthood was dominated by his deeds. Gates wants to focus on his foundation work, to which he was giving increasingly more attention over last decade and he, of course, has the richest foundation in the world.

I can not also miss mentioning another very disturbing piece of forecast which came in today - Scientists telling that this summer, by September, the entire arctic could be ice-free. That is truly shocking, considering that this is happening faster than anyone can imagine. A few years back, such predictions were made with timeline of early 2100, and definitely not before 2030. Now, it seems it will happen this year. And also, this is a kind of a sliding slope - Arctic Ice reflects back the sunlight, but once this is melted, the ocean that replaces it will absorb sunlight and in turn become warmer. Though we are possibly not talking about a Hollywood scenario like The Day After Tomorrow, this isn't comfortable news.

Such news also highlights another issue. The climate change is happening faster than anyone, including scientists devoted to its study, could imagine. The right wing thinkers, especially represented by the esteemed journal, The Economist [something that I read for many years, but then got tired of their extreme right wing views on Iraq, where they have admitted they were wrong, and environment, where they will soon have to admit they were wrong, again], tend not to believe that anything is wrong with human consumption and believes that the earth is warming up as a part of a natural climate cycle. Their problem in accepting the unsustainability of environment is equivalent to accepting that capitalism isn't a viable system of distributing and managing resources. This is exactly what I am getting at: It isn't. The capitalist thinking is predominantly an abundance thinking - there is no physical limit to resources available. In the areas where such limits are known, like in Earth's environment, the capitalist redeeming faith is that innovation, driven by the innovators self-interest, will create environment-friendly alternatives. The problem with this thinking is that it is abundance thinking and allows innovators enough time to come up with technologies and ideas when the conventional way of living is becoming increasingly uneconomic. In this area, as it seems, Hollywood will trump Harvard in scenario thinking, and we may not be left with the luxury of time to address the climate change issue.

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