My round-up of the week’s causes for optimism, discussions of optimism/pessimism gap, and debunkings of optimism/pessimism, as noticed in the media.
* At last, Japan opens up a little to skilled overseas workers…
“Foreign nationals with skills in fields identified as facing shortages would be awarded a visa allowing them to work for up to five years”, though only if they can “pass a Japanese language test”, which I guess is also a de facto IQ test since the language and script is so difficult. Japan will hold out the promise of “permanent residency status” to those who have proved themselves worthy by the end of their five-year stay. Other than students and spouses there are currently a mere 240,000 skilled overseas workers in Japan, mostly nurses drawn from nearby culturally-compatible nations.
* In The Atlantic, the Open Technology Institute on “The Scientific Impact of Sci-Fi Consulting” on movies and TV series. The author might have mentioned Arthur C. Clarke’s strong influence on Star Trek, though admittedly that was via his futurist book Profiles of the Future rather than directly as a paid consultant.
* Optimism, debunked, as reported in The Harvard Gazette… “Large-scale wind power causes warming”…
“The Harvard researchers found that the warming effect of wind turbines in the continental U.S. was actually larger than the effect of reduced [C02] emissions”. Wind farming at scale would have “more climate impact than coal or gas”, when measured on the 10 to 100 year time-scale. “The new study sought to explore a ‘plausible scale’ of wind power [deployment] in a single large country”, and only looked at localised effects of the actual operation of wind farms — rather than also looking at the wider industrial chain of mining the metals, the construction, decommissioning, energy transfer costs, lost opportunity costs, etc. Or considering things such as a higher domestic electricity bills, loss of regional tourism income, and the many ecological impacts.
* The colour of the future?
It’s soothing and faintly-medicated “neo-mint” for 2020, according to the colour forecasters. Which seems very suitable for Generation Panic, fretting about ‘threats’ that (for the most part) don’t actually exist. Which may explain why therapists and psychiatrists are now among the largest cadre of workers in the USA… “According to Accenture’s analysis, in the USA, Empathy and Support workers, such as nurses and psychiatrists, represent the largest single share of employment in the entire economy”.
* Meanwhile, outside the west’s self-suffocating thought-bubble of doom… “A survey, conducted by the Ipsos and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has found that optimism is more profound among the youth in developing countries, as opposed to those from the developed countries in the west. […] The pessimism in developed countries stems from the fact that they are exposed to more media messages about the world”.
* Singularity University launches in Greece, and the local media profile and interview Peter Diamandis.
Enjoyed this post? There’s more at the ‘Something for the Weekend’ newsletter archive.