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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 300

Saleem Ali — Earthly Order: How Natural Laws Define Human Life

Earthly Order (book cover)

Shermer and Ali discuss: • the search for structure in nature • order and randomness • economic laws • natural laws • natural orders: molecular, quantum, crystals, carbonic, nuclear, magnetic • hydrological, organismic, Gaia and Medea • reductionism and holism • Islamic economics • the origin of wealth • Is there an optimal economic order? • how mining rights work in the U.S. and elsewhere • the voter’s paradox • Pareto optimality and why we can’t achieve it • resource nationalism • the resource curse • why India and Pakistan have not used their nukes on each other • social orders • population and sustainability: neo-Malthusianism • How many people can the Earth hold? • why we need nuclear power for sustainability • internationalism and globalism • Trekonomics.

Saleem H. Ali was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts but grew up in Lahore, Pakistan until his college years, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Tufts University, and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in environmental policy and planning at Yale and MIT, respectively. He currently holds the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professorship in Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware and is Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland (Australia). Dr. Ali’s laurels include being a National Geographic Explorer (having travelled for research to over 150 countries); being chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serving on the seven-member science panel of the Global Environment Facility (the world’s largest multilateral trust fund for the environment held in trusteeship by the World Bank). His earlier books include Treasures of the Earth: Need Greed and a Sustainable Future. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Geographical Society in the United Kingdom and also serves on the boards of Adventure Scientists and Mediators Beyond Borders International. Along with his wife Maria and sons Shahmir and Shahroze, the family are citizens of Australia, Pakistan and the United States.

About the Book

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth global anxiety about linkages between the environment and society at a fundamental structural level. Earthly Order: How Natural Laws Define Human Life provides an accessible exposition of the latest foundational knowledge on how natural and social systems science can inform planetary crises. Humanity has either tried to conquer or capitulate to natural order, whereas we should be seeking to understand latent structures and patterns that permeate all systems and develop an “earthly order,” that is socially functional and sustainable.

Current debates in politics often present what should constitute a “world order” while scientists have wrestled with what are fundamental conditions of “natural order.” Saleem H. Ali provides a readable synthesis of these debates with practical guidance for the public with a host of current examples around environmental decision-making by consumers, the government and industry.

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This episode is sponsored by Wren and Wondrium:

Wren (sponsor)
Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on October 4, 2022.

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