rene     Mon, Oct 26, 2009  Permanent link
The problem raised above is that Al Gore, Bill McKibben and other environmental activists invariably cast the great issues of our time, like climate change, as apocalyptic catastrophes in the making.

For example, in his book “The End of Nature, ” Bill McKibben warns us that
with respect to our environment we have already done everything wrong as we have altered the earth’s atmosphere to our lasting detriment.

Last Saturday, McKibben rallied 4,300 demonstrators, from the Himalaya's to the Great Barrier Reef, all centered around the number 350, which is the upper limit for heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million. If the gas concentration exceeds that for much longer, the planet will be in the throes of floods, droughts and famine. The current concentration is 387 parts per million. However, there are many voices who, like John M. Reilly of MIT, warn that "three-fifty is so impossible to achieve that to make it the goal risks the reaction that if we are already over the cliff, then let's just enjoy the ride until it's over."

Which is of course exactly what we have been doing for years. A colleague of Nasa scientist James E Hansen who first warned the world about global warming a few decades ago, puts it like this in the New York Times: ...those promoting 350 or debating the number might be missing the point. The situation is analogous to people trying to embark on a cross-country road trip to California, but they've started off heading to Maine instead. But instead of working out ways to turn around, they have decided to argue about where they are going to park when they get to LA. If you ask a scientist how much more CO2 do you think we should add to the atmosphere, the answer is going to be none."

Much as I admire Bill McKibben as a writer, I'm clearly not the only one who feels paralyzed by his message that we should "hope against hope" that we'll achieve the impossible milestone of 350 fast impressing upon our leaders to assume the moral obligation to match their actions to the science..."

Clearly, I applaud the fact that some people are at least trying to do something...but I refuse to believe that this is the best we can do! Just one photograph of a group of naked kids running away from a napalm attack was a turning point in the Vietnam war,
and one simple logo to revive New York City from the doldrums in the '70s and again after 9/11.

The point is that with all due respect for the Bill McKibben's and the Al Gore's of the world, besides disconcerting fear, their message simply lacks emotion. Anyone to make history by devicing a campaign for climate change that actually works?

Infinitas     Mon, Oct 26, 2009  Permanent link
Lots of interesting thoughts here (Tesla is my favorite too!) but I just want to say something about what I have been experiencing and delving into more and more. I find myself asking what the goal of human life is and I'm caught between the concepts of Buddhism and those of science and technology projecting us towards a more "glorified" state, one that could perhaps be compared to nirvana.
In the words of futurist George Land, “inventing the future requires giving up control. No one with a compelling purpose and a great vision knows how it will be achieved. One has to be willing to follow an unknown path, allowing the road to take you where it will.

I find this statement to explain Buddhist thought quite perfectly. It's about being the change, which is done by living in the present. You have to accept that you cannot control anything, and once you see this then you are totally free. It's especially important to note, however, that any type of "buddhist breakthrough" is solely personal. No one else will understand, let alone experience, what you are experiencing.

I think this is where our current issue arises. The natural human inclination is to be completely happy, but because the media and big corporations have pervaded the minds of the general populace, people don't know where to begin solving this problem, let alone even believe that it can be solved. The basic beliefs and ideas behind most religions are extremely similar, but people must experience these concepts to at least wake up to the obvious and ongoing trouble. And since it's impossible for one person to give someone else an experience, religions, in a sense, have completely failed. In order to change the ways things are, I think it's imperative to change how people relate to each other, themselves and every aspect of life as we know it.

But back to science. I agree that developing technology is another way to wake people up (though it still could lead to utter destruction), but, for example, is implanting electrodes in your brain to create a nirvana-like state the same thing as actually achieving nirvana naturally? In other words, does our intention affect the outcome? Is there a difference between understanding and experiencing the why of existence (ultimate happiness) and actually achieving it naturally, and taking a pill to mimic it even though you don't give two shits about the Nature of things?

Rene: I am currently studying environmental science, and one of my classes is called Environmental Policy. We do all sorts of case studies and the one problem we environmentalists see again and again, is that people don't care. If we can change their mindset then all problems could be solved, but clearly that isn't the case.
rene     Tue, Oct 27, 2009  Permanent link
The point is that with all due respect for the Bill McKibben's and the Al Gore's of the world, besides disconcerting fear, their message simply lacks emotion. Anyone to make history by devicing a campaign for climate change that actually works?

this campaign, for example, may well have been effective in getting Obama elected.

meganmay     Tue, Oct 27, 2009  Permanent link
Mariana Soffer     Tue, Mar 16, 2010  Permanent link
This reminds me of a book from J. L. Borges called The book of imaginary beings. It was written and edited in 1957 as the original Spanish Handbook of Fantastic Zoology. It contains descriptions of 120 mythical beasts from folklore and literature. It contains stories about creatures like:

1. The Ass with Three Legs - This massive creature is said to stand in the middle of the ocean. It has three legs, six eyes, nine mouths, and one golden horn.
2.Eater of the Dead - Most commonly associated with Egyptian myth, the Eater attends to the "wicked". It is described as having the head of a crocodile, the midsection of a lion, and the hindquarters of a hippo.
3. Barometz - This "animal" is actually a plant in the shape of a lamb with golden fleece.
shiftctrlesc     Wed, Mar 17, 2010  Permanent link
“The vulnerability of the connected mindset”
I like that lot.

Reversal seems to be an inevitability in everything we do.
Pushed to its limit the flow of cars becomes a traffic jam.
The high of a drug becomes the low of addiction.
The utopian dream of the connective becomes ....

But we’re not there yet
The real vulnerability right now
lies in a dying, centralized, bureaucratic culture
that’s hellbent on crippling the emerging connective.

Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy
by Jeff Chester is essential reading. It gives a detailed map of the political and corporate forces that have been conspiring for decades to turn the internet into glorified cable tv.

And while there are countless big, life changing issues
bearing down on us right now
... from wars to bank swindles to climate change and a global economic crisis ...
there is a real urgency to protecting the shape of the internet.