Thickening connections?

NY Times’ conservative columnist, David Brooks, writes about what America needs to do to achieve success in the future.

“Building that America means doing everything possible to thicken connections: finance research to attract scientists; improve infrastructure to ease travel; fix immigration to funnel talent; reform taxes to attract superstars; make study abroad a rite of passage for college students; take advantage of the millions of veterans who have served overseas. The nation with the thickest and most expansive networks will define the age. ”


Am I becoming conservative in my old age?

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1 Response to Thickening connections?

  1. William E. Rees says:

    The advantages of thick ties and networks are not universal. Indeed, there is an alternative view that may well hold for many countries in today’s trading world.

    Globalization has enabled many nations greatly to overshoot their domestic carrying capacities. These countries survive on imported biocapacity and are therefore running significant trade-based ecological deficits with the rest of the world. Some nations actually use the equivalent of several times their domestic biocapacities–their populations are becoming increasingly dependent on flows of resources from distant ‘elsewheres’ around the globe.

    Regrettably, this relationship has the double-barrelled effect of reducing the incentives for import dependent countries to manage their domestic ‘natural capital’ sustainably (e.g., even in BC we are paving over our best farmland) even as their rising demands help to erode and dissipate the resource and ecosystems of the distant nations upon which they have become dependent.

    Assuming that climate scientists and global change ecologists know what they are talking about, the thickening ties and networks encouraged by globalization may be quite ephemeral. For example, if climate change greatly reduces the productivity of exporting regions import dependent countries will be left in limbo with no fall-back position. The increasingly unstable geopolitics that is likely to accompany incipient resource shortages may well further threaten vital lines of supply.

    It has been argued that thicker ties actually reduce the possibility of serious international conflict. This argument was apparently most strongly developed during the last period of intense globalization and mutual interdependence, early in the 20th Century in the years and months before the outbreak of the First World War.

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