Friday, September 30, 2016

Challenges for the emerging Type 1 Civilization

         Some scientists, philosophers, biologists have noted the relationship between "civilization" and energy consumption. The relation is complex and not linear (one to one). Scandinavian countries consume less energy than Americans or Canadians but have an overall standard of living at least as high.

           According to one (speculative) system of classification of civilizations by mode of energy consumption, modern societies are Type 0. Type 0 cultures are nascent technological cultures. They extract energy from non-renewable resources like fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal). They overpopulate, pollute and destroy the ecosystems they depend upon. They do, in effect, what 3 billion years of Darwinian evolution have programed them to do.

            If a technical culture manages to survive this difficult stage, it progresses to a Type 1 technical culture. In Type 1 cultures, energy is harvested from renewable resources and used intelligently (sparingly, very efficiently). Non-renewable resources are intensely recycled to prolong their availability. To compensate the inevitable slow depletion of non-renewables (through loss in processing and use), valuable renewables - the rare earth metals - will be extracted from robotic asteroid mining. Robotic space mining has the advantage of removing a very polluting form of mining / extraction operation from the earth's surface. (And no! We cannot pollute the asteroid belt: the solar wind sweeps all the junk out of the solar system). 
           To the degree possible, manufacturing processes will employ biology - "green machines" - which can be made totally renewable and self-sustaining in the long run: think of a forest or natural ocean ecosystem (before disruption by human activity).

            A Type 1 technical culture is always at risk of destroying itself through war, a fairly probable event given human nature and the Darwinian evolution which produced humanity. Another potential for collective suicide arises from technological screwups, Whizbang technological innovations with lethal unintended blowback. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology are probably ripe with potential booby traps.. 

            If it avoids these pitfalls, a Type 1 civilization should be (quasi-)"immortal". It should then progress to a Type 2 technical culture: terraforming and colonizing uninhabited terrestrial type planets in nearby solar systems.

                Getting there from here: challenges for the emerging (?) Type 1 civilization.

- We must assure that the controlled control their controllers: the police must serve the citizenry!

- Society must protect minorities from the violence of majorities. As a species we must learn, first to tolerate, then to celebrate Diversity in Unity / Unity in our human Diversity. (Edgar Morin: La Méthode)

- We must be creative in seizing local opportunities, finding local / regional solutions to local / regional problems. Only then can we realistically think of dealing with truly global issues (liking robotic exploration of Mars and the outer planets, searching for life on exoplanets, robotic asteroid mining. Even issues we normally think of as global - like overpopulation - require regional solutions, with local implementation.) 

Harvest, 2016

Harvest, 2016


A man reaps what he has sown,
the bitter seed yields bitter fruit.
What have we Boomers sown
for tomorrow's children to reap?

Strange images flood the mind, poor
disconnected things, strands of thought,
images, fantoms raised by fear
and memories of horrors lived,
the warning of sages
or prophets mad raving.

Politicians lies are heavy grapes,
clustered tight, ripe for harvest,
the wine our grandchildren shall feast.

The mob grows restless, they know their hour is near.
In their hearts dwells Fear, yet harder they grasp
that which draws doom upon their heads.
Why do they not see? What clouds their vision?
What stops their eyes, what empties their minds
(or, worse, fills it with redundant rubbish)?

I fear the mob in their fear
will choose a monster or a madman as a Messiah.
It happened before, why not again?
Why do we look aside from the menace that marches?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Historical Alliance: First Nations sign treaty to block tar sands development

           At simultaneous signing ceremonies in Vancouver and Montréal, Thursday, September 22, 2016, the autumnal equinox, a (potentially) historical alliance was forged.

"The document, called the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, commits its signatories to assist one another when called upon in the battle against oilsands expansion, and to work in partnership to move society towards more sustainable lifestyles. By aligning themselves with other Indigenous nations across Canada and the northern U.S., participants hope to ensure that dangerous projects are not able to "escape" by using alternative routes."

"As sovereign Indigenous Nations, we enter this treaty pursuant to our inherent legal authority and responsibility to protect our respective territories from threats to our lands, waters, air and climate, but we do so knowing full well that it is in the best interest of all peoples, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to put a stop to the threat of Tar Sands expansion.
We wish to work in collaboration with all peoples and all governments in building a more equitable and sustainable future, one that will produce healthier and more prosperous communities across Turtle Island and beyond, as well as preserve and protect our peoples’ way of life."

          This is interesting news - to say the least! To take it at face value, after five centuries of colonization, ethnocide and forced cultural assimilation, aboriginal peoples around the world are rising, phoenix-like from their ashes. What it all means in the long scheme of things is anyone's guess. One can speculate, based on historical precedent, of course. It may simply be that, living on the margins of the dominant European culture, aboriginal peoples are more attuned to the ongoing implosion of that culture. We, non-aboriginals, living in the cultural epicenter, are more fully "hypnotized" by the dominant culture's narratives and glitz. It is easier for the aboriginal than for us to "jump ship", to search for viable alternatives to Nonsustainable "Development". They, the marginalized "natives", were never fully part of our crew in the first place, never fully assimilated and yet never fully severed from their roots. We are perhaps now discovering that those ancient spiritual, cultural roots are still alive, still capable of drawing nourishment from earth, water, air and fire (the sun). 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

burning pine cones

reflections on the Fort McMurray, Alberta, fire - summer 2016


our world falls down, our world falls aprt
what joy is found in the wasting city of the dead?
we have become outcasts in our own country
neophyte wanderers in the world of the narrative
seeking deep roots in living earth
in living, loved or wasted time..

a wise woman, a sage I know, told me
seek living earth in old cultures being born
put faith and hope in the regenerative fires of Nature
the earth is old and seen much change
'twas born and died and rose again
again and ever again