I was very surprised by Lord Martin Rees’ assertion that to thwart the misuse and abuse of nuclear energy and biotech, the West must “give up on privacy” and “go the Chinese way.” While I agree that private companies should be strictly regulated and overseen by governments, I completely disagree with the conclusion that this means giving up on privacy. As I understand it, there aren’t many curious independent scientists or small businesses harnessing nuclear power in their living rooms. Rees does not provide reasoning for why such a wide scale invasion of privacy would be justified or even effective in achieving his end goal. I take issue with this assertion for several reasons. First, it’s a politically disastrous message to ask people to give up their privacy for the sake of achieving a blurry and unclear goal. Second, the “Chinese way” in terms of privacy has not even yielded the results Rees asserts: China generates double the CO2 emissions America does. Not only would such a statement alienate potential allies in the fight against climate change, but it disempowers individuals and strips them of civil liberties without justification.
If I was able to interview Lord Martin Rees, I would dive further into his claim about privacy and try to figure out how to reach the balance of governmental power to curb biotech abuse while preserving individual liberties.