Inevitable Modern World Risk: Not an excuse to not take action!

In Dr. Ulrich Beck’s “Living in the world risk society,” Beck asks a simple, yet profound question: How do we live in times of uncontainable risks?

He continues to point out that global risks are inevitable, whether the government wants its citizens to believe it or not.  However, at the end, Beck is unable to provide an exact question to his answer.  Therefore, my question is: How would you incorporate Beck’s arguments about how to deal with modern world risks into a program we have already learned about, such as PlaNYC, that aims to make a better and cleaner NYC?

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3 Responses to Inevitable Modern World Risk: Not an excuse to not take action!

  1. jennylee says:

    I did not see Beck’s intention as a simple “this is the problem/question, and I am looking to provide an answer” so there is not need to think that there should be “an exact answer” (? or question?), though he makes an ironic stab at this in the conclusion. He outlines a theory that attempts to capture the way risk is changing our society, elucidating what is happening around us in words, in a new consolidated viewpoint.
    That being said, it is interesting to think about programs like PlaNYC with his points in mind. I’m not sure how to approach this question, actually. He describes how regional/national boundaries are not the best way to define things anymore when faced with modern world risks (hence “world”) and also that people no longer trust the institutions we have to manage those risks. It’s a weird paradox: it’s still absolutely necessary to have efforts to become cleaner on a local level because we are part of the world, but it’s silly to think that only completing the initiatives on the city-level will have great effect if the general global changes continue. I guess the city will have to connect well with the state (and they to the country, and they to the world…) to collaborate well. I suppose some points for the individual would be to help people feel the changes they make in their lives and contributions are worthwhile and also help them feel as though they can evaluate and have agreed to the directions of such projects.

    • Michelle Guo says:

      I agree Jenny! I think the question at the beginning was meant to make us think– it truly just such a simple question at first glance, but once we step back and truly acknowledge all of the real-world dilemmas, it really does make us think.

      • jennylee says:

        Yeah… :)
        it’s weird, the question makes you “think”, but the thinking can become fruitless very easily, because it leads to paralyzing feelings of “wow, I am so ignorant and I am ineffectual in the real grand scheme of things”. At which point you really stop having any useful thoughts. I guess you have to just think a lot about how you’re (and we’re) thinking and the meta-thoughts help us out of our emotional defense mechanisms. More than anything, I feel like these problems are more difficult battles with ourselves than a battle with external forces.

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