No one expects the machinery of progress to roll backwards, but sometimes it seems that no one is watching the speedometer (or manning the brakes, assuming any exist). Is this a fair assessment? If so, should we be worried — and what can we do about it?
In this feature, experts on technology, risk, science, policy and neuroscience discuss risk, innovation and how our values affect our conceptions of both.
Stable, nontoxic refrigerants changed the world, transforming food storage, expanding Sun Belt populations, even helping early movie theaters succeed. But they also wrecked the ozone layer — Earth’s shield against harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Today, as stockpiles dwindle — and prices rise — due to phase-outs set by the Montreal Protocols 30 years ago, the future of Freon and its successors remains in doubt.
The risk of a severe, multi-decade drought hitting the Southwest United States by the end of the century could reach as high as 99 percent if greenhouse gas emissions continue along current lines, says a paper by a team of scientists from Cornell University, Columbia University and NASA.
Human-induced climate change has doubled forest fire damage in the West over the past 30 years, says a study published online early by the journal PNAS. But human effects on fire extend far beyond climate.