FUTURIBLES June 2003


IN THIS ISSUE:
  • SIDE EFFECTS OF BATTLING TERRORISM
    Terrorist incidents have actually declined in the post-Cold War era, but the likelihood of death or injury from terrorism has increased, according to game theorist Todd Sandler of the University of Southern
    California.
    What's changed since the end of the Cold War, which was dominated by the violence-deterring gamesmanship of two superpowers, is the growing threat of religious groups and other non-state "amateurs" operating outside the traditional domains of diplomacy.
    Another change is the way governments respond to those threats, such as increasing security around major facilities. After September 11, Sandler and colleagues found that "terror increased as security
    measures were heightened, not the other way around. Terrorists just substituted places and people who were less protected."

    Metal detectors in airports, for instance, may have helped reduce hijackings of airliners, but they increased hostage taking; fortification of embassies reduced attacks on the facilities but
    increased assassinations outside the protected compounds.

  • DEADLIER EARTHQUAKES
    Future earthquakes won't have to be more powerful to be more deadly.
    They will kill more people because there will be more people to kill, particularly in the world's largest cities.

    Half the world's megacities, with multimillion populations, are located near potential magnitude 7.5 earthquakes, points out Roger Bilham, a geological sciences professor at University of Colorado at Boulder.
    Some of the most vulnerable are Jakarta, Tehran, and Mexico City.

    "A fourfold increase in the annual death toll from earthquakes between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries is linked to increased urbanization," Bilham told a recent meeting of the Seismological Society Association.

    Earthquakes themselves are not the problem, but rather the collapse of buildings during quakes. As planners prepare to accommodate the world's growing populations, now is the time to build safer buildings for them to live in, Bilham concludes.

  • BIKE-FRIENDLY CITIES
    Corvallis, Oregon, and Palo Alto, California, are the two most bicycle-friendly communities in the United States, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

    Both these communities encourage bike-riding commuters: Corvallis has designated bike lanes on major commuter roads, and Palo Alto offers a $20 monthly stipend to city employees who bike to work.
    The League's Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign is a grassroots effort to promote bicycle riding as part of a strategy to make communities more livable--and citizens more physically fit. Bike riding, according to the League, reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, promotes public health, and--in the longer run--increases the quality of life as well as property values.

  • LOOMING LABOR SHORTAGES
    Futurists looking beyond the current unemployment figures see a different problem over the horizon: worker shortages in a wide variety of fields.

    Widespread losses of manufacturing jobs in the United States over the past two years conceal a coming shortage of highly skilled workers that could undermine the nation's competitiveness, warns the National Association of Manufacturers. In a recent study, four out of five large and small manufacturers reported a "moderate to serious" shortage of qualified job applicants. Managers blame young people's lack of interest in manufacturing careers, which are stereotyped as "assembly-line" work rather than highly skilled occupations.

    Restaurants and other food services will also have trouble filling openings. Human resources--specifically, finding, training, and keeping the best employees--was ranked the number-one concern for U.S. restaurant managers surveyed by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

  • AMERICA'S IMMIGRATION CITIES
    More than 90,000 people a year make their way to the Los Angeles-Long Beach area from outside the United States, putting L.A. well ahead of New York among the top U.S. welcoming metros. Nearly one-third of all people moving to L.A. are from abroad, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Miami, too, is a big draw for immigrants: Some 59% of people moving to the southern Florida port city are from other countries. Rounding out the top five U.S. destinations are Chicago and Houston.

  • CLICK OF THE MONTH: GLOSSARIST
    Looking for the meaning of everything? Or just something very arcane?
    With language changing and vocabularies specializing, it's hard to keep up. Check out this intriguing site, where you will learn that "glossarist" means "a compiler of textual glosses or topical dictionaries."

    Behind this site is Australian Web designer and meaning hunter Warwick Bone (aka "Woz"), who has created a masterful portal linking you to Web-based glossaries covering a wide range of subjects, from life
    sciences to life insurance. (Unfortunately, though, none seems to give the meaning of life.)

    Glossary categories include the arts, business, careers, education, computers, family, government, health, humanities, technology, science, transportation, and law. New subjects recently added to the site
    include body art, forestry, Web site promotion, ballet, geometry, and dreams.
    http://www.glossarist.com

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