We are all vulnerable

   The perfection that has come with computers and the progress that this represents is something unimaginable. The reality exceeds the best dreams. However, it has not yet been made any computer that is not vulnerable. Any new virus can ruin the work of many days or collapse the functioning of appliances and entire companies.

   Plant breeding has done wonders in recent years. It has achieved many varieties of cultivated species of great output. It makes possible that agricultural production increased dramatically. But all is not advantages. These new species are more susceptible to pests and more demanding in climate and fertilizers.

   Something similar has happened with animal breeding. For example, there are cash cows with five times higher production than just 50 years ago. But they are very demanding animals in food and susceptible to certain diseases. They are also sensitive to environmental stress.

   What about the human species? We have reached some indescribable heights of material welfare. Comfort, public health system, life expectancy, information systems, defense against heat or cold, communications, etc have increased. But as machines, plants and animals, we remain vulnerable to new diseases like AIDS or the “mad cow disease”, to air and rail accidents, to a possible nuclear catastrophe or a simple power outage that can put in check an entire country, as we see happening from time to time, or even one single province as in Girona during the last snow storm. These things do not settle easily improving infrastructure because demand increase in developed countries exceeds production increase. Living well has its price.

   In the case of plants and animals, geneticists seek and try to preserve the rustic character of many traditional species as a way to defend the new species in front of adverse circumstances. It would not be wrong that men try something similar. This is not about we return to the Stone Age, but we should improve in sobriety and self-sacrifice. The third world has these qualities forced by circumstances. We may recover them voluntarily in order to try to reduce our vulnerability. Could it be the crisis a good opportunity for it?

   Federico Gómez Pardo

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