Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Good news.

This story on a breakthrough in combating a terrible disease is an example of one reason I quit watching television and hardly bother with print media any more. I like good news so I read Science, Nature, Scientific American and, of course, World Changing. The significance, if you don't have time to read science stories, is the manufacture of of plague antibodies in a genetically modified plant. Potentially cheaper than killed whole Yersinia Pestis bacteria and with fewer bad reactions than existing vaccines, this promises to provide immunity against a germ that can be 100% lethal once its in your lungs and still kills about a thousand people around the world each year. As an immunity booster rather than an antibiotic, this potential vaccine can avoid the evolution of drug resistance via sloppy overuse which has limited the value of nearly all antibiotics. This story is dramatic enough that it may eventually be seen in NYTimes. Every day, in just this country, a million or so researchers work in near anonymity trying to make the world a safer place. What do we want? Just the final report to the FDA with a drug name and a price? The research reported here, like most science stories, is not a finished work but one more step in good direction. There should be more informed spectators, more fans rooting for this team. This unambiguously is a way to improve our lives and safety.

Research to develop weapon systems as a way to be safer by being more intimidating to our enemies, always a moral dead end, hit a practical dead end in the 50's . Our new enemy is us. It became us by the way we handled our second newest enemy, an enemy who doesn't mind a little death and has uses for martyrs. Our previous generation of enemies are now our trading partners because we found ways to give each other alternatives to conflict. Our WWII adversaries go arm in arm with us to the G7 meetings because we were once generous in victory. And our original enemy is now and has been for decades our staunchest ally. If we called for the research that provides the good news, don't you think we could, as a by product, produce a little less bad news? Wars are even less likely to happen by neglect or accident than medical progress. The missing ingredient is a national leadership with positive priorities instead of a "We'll lead, you bleed" attitude. "Positive priorities" could mean anything but let me assure you, war is a negative priority.

Progress seldom comes all tied up in a package so we settle for incremental and accidental improvements but the good news will keep coming if only we avoid letting our insecurities make the world less secure.

3 comments:

TDharma said...

Thank you for the link to World Changing. A very interesting site which I have by no means exhausted yet -- and doubt I ever will. It is helpful to know that there are many out there doing this work.

GreenSmile said...

Always glad to spread the good word about WorldChanging. It reports the good news and points to opportunities for volunteering.

What I like best about it is that it highlights the many ways technology can help the underdeveloped communities without necessarily bringing all the expensive filth and compromised environments of development with a capital D. You don't have to sell a country a fleet of Caterpillar tractors via a huge debt finance scheme in order to improve lives. And it confirms my faith that technology is not inherently evil nor the wrong way to solve problems...only the greed or thoughtlessness with which it is applied makes trouble.

wildpic said...

your intentions are interesting greensmile. like your choice of quotations too. will see u around. cheers !