Cheney’s 1 Percent Threat

Thomas L. Friedman writes for the New York Times

In 2006, Ron Suskind published “The One Percent Doctrine,” a book about the U.S. war on terrorists after 9/11. The title was drawn from an assessment by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who, in the face of concerns that a Pakistani scientist was offering nuclear-weapons expertise to Al Qaeda, reportedly declared: “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping Al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.” Cheney contended that the U.S. had to confront a very new type of threat: a “low-probability, high-impact event.”

Soon after Suskind’s book came out, the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who then was at the University of Chicago, pointed out that Mr. Cheney seemed to be endorsing the same “precautionary principle” that also animated environmentalists. Sunstein wrote in his blog: “According to the Precautionary Principle, it is appropriate to respond aggressively to low-probability, high-impact events — such as climate change. Indeed, another vice president — Al Gore — can be understood to be arguing for a precautionary principle for climate change (though he believes that the chance of disaster is well over 1 percent).”

read more at the New York Times

Thus brings the every dollar question, even if climate change might not be man made, does that change anything? Do we want to continue in a world that wastes resources almost as fast as our need for them increases, or are we going to move pragmatically ahead as we have in so many sectors of business? Buying a bike helmet could be a waste of money if you never get in an accident, but we as a nation legally require several safety methods like safety belts and car seats. We require car companies to meet crash standards, not to mention testing before one can even take the wheel. Our country traditionally values pragmatic safety and we should continue to do so.

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