From a column by James Russell Wiggins in the Ellsworth (Maine) American:

The species that has emerged over millennia has spent the millions of years in an environment that was repeatedly forgiving. It tolerated unspeakable errors, slow mental reactions, feeble intellectual processes, retarded muscular responses. But that species has now made a new world. And the word from Canaveral and Chernobyl is that that world is unforgiving, intolerant of stupidity, awful in reprisal for slow thought, fumbling action and general incompetence.

The old world was one of trial and error; the new one is one of trial and disaster.

In the old world, an untrained boy could pick up a pair of pliers instead of a monkey wrench to fix an engine and nothing would be lost but a few moments. In the new one, if he picks up a metric spanner instead of an inch one, the delay may cause a continent to disappear in a cloud of radioactive dust. Are we too slow, too sloppy, too undisciplined to survive?

Maybe not, if we can pull up our socks, turn aside from incredible preoccupation with the irrelevant, submit ourselves to new standards of discipline, forgo our incredible appetite for luxury and ease, suppress our sloppy inattention to precise instruction and direction and learn to live by the book. Unless we profoundly alter our intellectual and moral gait; unless we abandon a pace of the mind and a state of morality endurable in a horse and buggy age, our species will one day clumsily commit the earth to destruction by forces we are not smart enough to control.