Over the few days since my recent post about my hopes for 2020, I’ve come up with a few more ways in which I hope we can collectively improve our situation before this new decade is spent. Just like last time, these aren’t things that I necessarily expect to be fixed by 2020, but they are all things I am still idealistic enough to hope for.
The UK Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, recently dismissed David Nutt from his position as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) because Professor Nutt had the audacity to quote scientific evidence that contradicted the government’s invented ideas about the dangers of certain illegal drugs. It spawned a movement to impress upon public officials what you would imagine to be the obvious importance of paying attention to what’s actually true when determining public policy.
I hope that governments of 2020 will be more evidence-based in their approach to drug laws. I hope they create laws that actually serve to decrease the danger from recreational use, but which also allow for the use of drugs by informed adults, especially in a medical context.
Related to my hope that the Earth’s climate will continue to support human life in a comfortable manner, I hope that the public will have overcome its irrational fear of nuclear energy and will be willing to switch from dangerous, polluting, climate-altering fossil fuels to cleaner, safer, more sustainable nuclear power. Research and development in this area has been dreadfully lacking in recent decades due to an exaggerated negative public perception. Maybe one positive outcome of the climate crisis will be a public willingness to reevaluate nuclear energy.
I’m Irish. My family is Irish. Many of my friends are Irish, and I lived most of my life in Ireland. In years past I would have lived my whole life there, and would have been unlikely to have many non-Irish acquaintances. Not so now.
Now I live in the UK, with an American girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, none of my immediate colleagues are Irish; but the majority aren’t even from the UK. I have good friends from several continents, and living all over the world. With the Internet, I read about and talk about the thoughts and ideas and lives of people as geographically disparate as people have ever been.
International travel is cheap and widely available. It’s easier now for me to get to know people half way around the world than it was for my parents to meet people in the next county over.
This change has been rapid, and laws have not caught up. Gaining the right to live and work in another country can be ridiculously difficult, even for highly qualified and intelligent young people. Australia evicts travelers after a year. Ireland erects hurdles for hopeful Americans even as it begs the USA to make the tens of thousands of illegal Irish immigrants to that country legal. The UK has backlogs of tens of thousands of applications from prospective university students.
The level of restriction on immigration between first-world democracies is incongruent with the free flow of tourism and communication. I hope that permanent or semi-permanent movement between economically similar countries becomes significantly easier by 2020. The world is now too small to bear so many walls.