Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trivializing terrorism

I'm generally appreciative of the intellect of Stephen Hawking. He's a very intelligent man who has the rare ability to communicate complicated mathematical and cosmological theories in terms that are generally understandable to the average layman, like me. But I have a problem with an attitude he has expressed in an AP story about the latest adjustment to the Doomsday Clock ("Doomsday Clock moves closer to midnight").

In the story, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists -- which is responsible for setting the clock -- is portrayed as now more concerned about the threats from global climate change rather than nuclear disaster. That's a major departure from their original concern, and I think that they should not confuse the public into thinking the threat from global warming is even remotely the same as that posed by nuclear weapons. But Hawking, who is involved with the group, thinks otherwise, and he made the following egregious statement:
"Terror only kills hundreds or thousands of people," Hawking said. "Global warming could kill millions. We should have a war on global warming rather than the war on terror."

Unbelievable. This statement suggests that we can do something to alter climate change to the benefit of humanity and that there is nothing we can do to effectively reduce the threat of Islamic fascists who wish to destroy the West.

I respecfully disagree with the distiguished Mr. Hawking. We might be able to do something about global warming, but I know that we definitely should be doing something about the threat of terrorism. We can't simply give up the fight against al-Qaeda and their ilk. That only encourages them. If we back off, they will come after us with even more vigor, emboldened in our timorousness. And, if they should ever add nuclear weapons to their arsenal, they could do more sudden damage to people, property, and the environment than any eventual climate change could do.

The terrorists are an immediate threat, and we should never think of abandoning the war on them.

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