Creativity is Unusual Stuff:
It is subversive…
It mistrusts what it sees, what it hears.
It dares (and cares) to doubt…
It acts (even if it errs)…
It infiltrates perponcieved notions…
It rattes established certitudes….
It incessantly invents new ways, new vocabularies…
It provokes and changes points of view.
Humans Vs. The Environment: The Easter Island Effect:
Long long ago on a small little island in the far away southern Pacific Ocean there was a culture that lived on a place called Easter Island. The natives of Easter Island chopped down all their trees to build ever-larger monuments to themselves and their granduer. But what they failed to see beyond their own sea of self arrogance, was in doing so they destroyed their entire ecosystem and so soon perished, never to be heard from again.
The entire human civilization is now pulling an Easter Island on a global scale.
There seems to be a battle brewing, one of what is really to blame for all of the woes of our planet (excluding the fact that there are those whom see nothing wrong in the first place).
The former states basically that due to the pure numbers of our species, damage is laid upon our planet as we need more of everything to survive. Proponents of this idea of thought believe human activity is responsible for much of the damage, and that a reduction in population would automatically result in both less ongoing damage and a greater opportunity for the Earth’s systems to heal themselves. In short, drop the religious thoughts and male oriented thinking of being dominant and stop having so many babies.
The latter say the problem lay not in the amount of people on the planet but in our consumption habits. They point to the relative consumption patterns of industrialized and developing nations (where for example an American consumes 30 times as much of the world’s resources as a person from Bangladesh), and so their thoughts on this matter lay in the idea that restraint in consumption trumps restraint in population growth. In short stop buying shit you don’t really need.
No matter what side of the fence you may rest on, overpopulation, over consumption or perhaps a combination of the two, one thing is for sure taking place, and deny it as much as one wants, all evidence points to this fact: We are (as a species) in overshoot.
A species is said to be in overshoot if the resource requirements of its population exceed the carrying capacity of its environment — in other words, its needs exceed the ability of its environment to supply those needs sustainably over the long term. Humanity is already in overshoot, (estimates range by at least 25% and perhaps by as much as 100% or more).
A reduction in population would help to redress the balance. It would reduce the pressure on the planetary ecosystems we depend on and give them a chance to recover. Unfortunately, as we can all see at the present time, there is no sign that our population will stabilize within the next 40 years, let alone start to decline. As a result, the ecological changes we are inflicting on the planet we need for our survival logically will most likely increase as the years go by. For a species that is already in overshoot, this is a very ominous prediction. As we run into resource limits such as Peak Oil, the underlying damage we have done will assume ever greater importance as our degradation of the world’s carrying capacity is progressively revealed and the damages and changes we see now will only be multiplied as time marches on.
So what is our species to do?
It seems the first logical step is to understand that there is a problem in the first place. The time for people to ignore what is happening has passed us by. No religious belief, no ideas of the domination of our species, no thoughts of our inherent right to succeed in our free market consumption free for all can mask the fact that the planet (in many ways) is dying… and as the planet goes, so does our species.
The population of the world will eventually begin to recede, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting for that time to happen. Consumption patterns of us all needs to be address and readdressed on an individual basis. Waiting for governments to lead will never work.
The earth’s resources are limited.
All persons whom ever existed have and do consume some part of these limited resources.
Humans are altering the environment
Humans like to have babies
Governments have never made laws and changes. The general population has. Nothing comes from a government that does not start from the people (be it one, one hundred or one hundred million)
Try not to forget that the next time you think… I am only one person, what can I do?
Have a few minutes of time to waste between reading tweets, timelines and pins? Why not waste your time on worperhect.
A half joking/half serious, but very interesting idea for writing in an alternative fashion, word perhect takes the idea of post it notes to an online vain. Limited in what you can write on, it is good fun for a few minutes in your onlife life.
Like a Child being taught a lesson, know when to say enough is enough…
The G-20’s decision in November of 2008 not to let any systemically relevant bank perish may have seemed wise at the time, given the threat of a global financial meltdown. But that decision and bad policies by central banks and governments since then, has given over-indebted major banks the power to blackmail their rescuers – a power that they have used to create a financial system in which they are effectively exempt from liability.
Big banks’ ability to extort such an arrangement stems from an implicit threat: the financial sector – and with it the economy’s payment system – would collapse if a systemically important bank were ever pushed into insolvency.
But it is time to call the bankers’ bluff: maintaining the payment system can and should be separated from the problem of bank insolvency.
Above all, the G-20’s decision to prop up systemically relevant banks must be revisited, and governments must respond to the banks’ threats by declaring their willingness to let insolvent banks be judged accordingly.
A market economy (as so many countries tout their systems to now be) must rest on the economic principle of profit and loss. This is not about whether this type of system is right for our species… or in fact even really works… this is about facing up to the realities of what we have today and understanding what we need to do.
An economy with neither bankruptcies nor a rule of law that applies equally to all is no market economy. The law that is valid for all other companies should apply to banks as well.
Half empty? Half Full? Pessimist? Optimist? Let’s ask a person of Physics
Traditionally, the optimist sees the glass as half full while the pessimist sees it as half empty. But what if the empty half of the glass were actually empty—a vacuum? (Even a vacuum arguably isn’t truly empty, but that’s a question for quantum semantics.)
The vacuum would definitely not last long. But exactly what happens depends on a key question that nobody usually bothers to ask: Which half is empty?
For our scenario, we’ll imagine three different half-empty glasses, and follow what happens to them microsecond by microsecond (well not really but in a sense)
In the middle is the traditional air/water glass. On the right is a glass like the traditional one, except the air is replaced by a vacuum. The glass on the left is half full of water and half empty—but it’s the bottom half that’s empty.
We’ll imagine the vacuums appear at time t=0.
For the first handful of microseconds, nothing happens. On this timescale, even the air molecules are nearly stationary. For the most part, air molecules jiggle around at speeds of a few hundred meters per second. But at any given time, some happen to be moving faster than others. The fastest few are moving at over 1000 meters per second. These are the first to drift into the vacuum in the glass on the right.
The vacuum on the left is surrounded by barriers, so air molecules can’t easily get in. The water, being a liquid, doesn’t expand to fill the vacuum in the same way air does. However, in the vacuum of the glasses, it does start to boil, slowly shedding water vapor into the empty space
While the water on the surface in both glasses starts to boil away, in the glass on the right, the air rushing in stops it before it really gets going. The glass on the left continues to fill with a very faint mist of water vapor.
After a few hundred microseconds, the air rushing into the glass on the right fills the vacuum completely and rams into the surface of the water, sending a pressure wave through the liquid. The sides of the glass bulge slightly, but they contain the pressure and do not break. A shockwave reverberates through the water and back into the air, joining the turbulence already there
The shockwave from the vacuum collapse takes about a millisecond to spread out through the other two glasses. The glass and water both flex slightly as the wave passes through them. In a few more milliseconds, it reaches the humans’ ears as a loud bang. Around this time, the glass on the left starts to visibly lift into the air.
The air pressure is trying to squeeze the glass and water together. This is the force we think of as suction. The vacuum on the right didn’t last long enough for the suction to lift the glass, but since air can’t get into the vacuum on the left, the glass and the water begin to slide toward each other. The boiling water has filled the vacuum with a very small amount of water vapor. As the space gets smaller, the buildup of water vapor slowly increases the pressure on the water’s surface. Eventually, this will slow the boiling, just like higher air pressure would. However, the glass and water are now moving too fast for the vapor buildup to matter. Less than ten milliseconds after the clock started, they’re flying toward each other at several meters per second. Without a cushion of air between them—only a few wisps of vapor—the water smacks into the bottom of the glass like a hammer.
Water is very nearly incompressible, so the impact isn’t spread out—it comes as a single sharp shock. The momentary force on the glass is immense, and it breaks.
When the bottle is struck, it’s pushed suddenly downward. The liquid inside doesn’t respond to the suction (air pressure) right away—much like in our scenario—and a gap briefly opens up. It’s a small vacuum—a few fractions of an inch thick—but when it closes, the shock breaks the bottom of the bottle.
In our situation, the forces would be more than enough to destroy even the heaviest drinking glasses. The bottom is carried downward by the water and thunks against the table. The water splashes around it, spraying droplets and glass shards in all directions. Meanwhile, the detached upper portion of the glass continues to rise
After half a second, the observers, hearing a pop, have begun to flinch. Their heads lift involuntarily to follow the rising movement of the glass. The glass has just enough speed to bang against the ceiling, breaking into fragments…
The glass has just enough speed to bang against the ceiling, breaking into fragments…
which, their momentum now spent, return to the table
And so my dear half empty/half full thinkers… the lesson of this little tale? : If the optimist says the glass is half full, and the pessimist says the glass is half empty, the physicist ducks
Lessons on how to not be selfish in Death:
A person should be buried only half a meter, or two feet, below the surface. Then a tree should be planted there.
One should be buried in a coffin that decays so that when you plant a tree on top the tree will take something out of their substance and change it into tree-substance.
When you visit the grave you don’t visit a dead person, you visit a living being who was just transformed into a tree.
You say, “This is my grandfather, my grandmother, my spouse, my daughter, my co-worker, my friend., the tree is growing well, fantastic.
You can develop a beautiful forest that will be more beautiful than a normal forest because the trees will have their roots in graves
You can give back to a planet you take so much from. You can continue the cycle of a planet we seem to have forgotten need a complete cycle to be healthy.
In essence, you can go on and live (again) in life.
Random Thoughts for a Rainy Day (because it is always raining somewhere)
…on the illusion of the thought.
The world is but the surface of the mind, and the mind is infinite. What we call thoughts are just ripples in the mind. When the mind is quiet, it reflects reality. When it is motionless through and through, it dissolves and only reality remains. This reality is so concrete, so actual, and so much more tangible than mind and matter that compared to it even a diamond is soft like butter. This overwhelming actuality makes the world dream-like, misty… irrelevant.
A Dose of Sanity: Part Twenty-One
…And then it hit me…
The American culture of today offers young Americans (and more and more the youth the world over), the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism.
All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking.
While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism.
Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see.
A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulative-ness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements.
Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements
Biting the Hand That Feeds You:
Recently, in an off-handed, short and very spontanous (how un-blog like of someone that was), way, I posted a small blurb about what I see as the next big crisis to face our species, that being a crisis of food. Immediately I was greeted with a comment from a reader whom blasted me for not providing “facts,”, and how my post was based on nothing and was basically ridiculous in nature (not a direct quote, just paraphrasing their general idea). While I usually never respond to comments, as I feel that the purpose for what I write here is to lay a forum for ideas and have all comment in any way they choose, this persons comment drove me to elaborate on my ideas of what I think is taking place in our world (as they were right in that reguard, I really had posted… nothing), and how we all need to wake up to the very real threat we ALL could face (and many of us already do) in terms of food sustainability.
Today’s world is a place of uneven development, unsustainable use of natural resources, worsening impact of climate change, and continued poverty and malnutrition. Poor food quality and diets are partly responsible for the increase of chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. Large corporations have (like in many other areas of our world) taken over farming and turned it into a commodity to be bought and sold, like any other, with very little thought to the end customer (in terms of an overall sustainable, level and future thinking idea of health for the planet and our species not just their present day pocket books). Economic speculators have taken something that is a necessity to our very existence and commodmized it in a way that threatens the ability of some to even have food. These are things I think we need to really look at in much deeper detail and really understand that this is not just a problem of what we see as the “third world”. If the economic crash of recent times has shown us anything, it is that the world is a much more connected place than every before and that no one is immune anymore to something that may happen on the other side of the world and out of the sight (and mind) or ones own backyard.
For decades, agricultural science has focused on boosting production through the development of new technologies. In some ways this has worked very well. New strains of seeds allow for the production of crops in places never before imaged. It has opened up new areas of production and has allowed persons in far reaching places to access foods never before available to them. It has achieved enormous yield gains as well as lower costs for LARGE-SCALE farming, but on the flip side has all but wiped out the ability for small farmers to operate. This success (like so many other of our advancements as a species), has also come at a high environmental cost. Rainforests cleared, overuse of land to the point that it is no longer useable, mountainsides cleared for cultivation, precious ecosystems wiped out, all in the drive to produce more. What we fail to see is that many of the ecosystems we destroy actual serve to balance the ecosystems we need to sustain life on this planet… and ultimately ourselves.
Furthermore, all of these advances have not solved the social and economic problems of the poor in developing countries, which have generally benefited the least from this boost in production, because once again the initial infrastructure for these areas was not in place, and the fast-paced development needed to utilitze these new technologies are slow to filter down through the general worlds population (especially in certain areas of our world). Even in the areas of the world where there is “more, corporate takover of farming has made it impossible to make a decent living unless one is a supersized farm, as it is the bottom line that matters most. The food industry, not unlike all industries employs an army of lobbiest whose sole purpose is to forward the needs of their companies, that need being the bottom line profit. This has led to a decrease in the quality of many products (meat products come to mind immediately), and these also have a direct effect on the enviroments of those areas, which come full circle and effect our species as well. All these things are connected.
Study after study in numerous “western nations”have shown the increase in the size (I mean mass not amount of people) of populations is a direct result of the types of foods we eat. One only needs to enter many neighbourhoods to find the access to fresh fruit and vegetable products is limited, even in the most affluent of nations, but the amount of prepackaged food products is ever on the rise.
Agriculture is closely linked to these concerns and also to other things including the loss of biodiversity, global warming and water availability. Droughts in areas of the United States and Australia, as well as to a lesser extend in Canada and Russia, all emourmous producers of staple foods, have been on the increase and will only continue to do so, as well as more flooding for longer periods of times in areas of Asia that produce large amounts of rice for the world. Certain areas of our globe still believe that climate change is a hoax, and while they have a right to their opinion, it seems to me that looking in their own back yard and seeing the changes to our planet occuring right before their very eyes would lead them to open them… even just a little. Perhaps it is this idea that it is human-made that is the craw in their side. If so, okay, then say that it is a natural process of the planet, but wake up to the fact that (for whatever reasons) it is occurring and it IS having and will continue to have, in greater and greater amounts, a direct impact on everything in our lives, and most assuridly on our abilities to produce food. While not directly tackling the fundamentals of why it is occuring, looking at it in this way for those whom can’t bring themselves to see that humans have contributed to this in great amounts, is still a good start, as I see as it at the very least brings us all onto the same page of understanding that we must do something for our future generations if we want to sustain our species and our food availability. At this point it seems, many don’t even want to be on the page of understanding something needs to be done (reguardless of how we got ourselves to this point in the first place). When people think of climate change their first thought is, oil, and pollution and too many cars, and factories and the like, but what many seem to forget is that climate change means a change to our CLIMATE, and this has a direct effect on how we can grow anything we need to consume.
In order to address the diverse needs and interests that shape human life, we need a shared approach to sustainability that begins with a local awareness but goes hand in hand with a cross-national collaboration. We cannot escape our predicament by simply continuing to rely on the aggregation of individual choices, to achieve sustainable and equitable collective outcomes. This “libertarian” idea of freedom and everyone will follow along for the greater good of the whole, is unrealistic in a species that puts monitary gains ahead of all else more and more and more. When libertarians (as they call themselves) connect their ideas with a free market ideology, it seems we are doomed. We are not a level playing field, as a species, and in some ways, we may never be, but to simply follow this psudo-libertarian idea would get us no further along the path to a solution than we are now. It would, it seems to me, maintain what we have now… pockets of haves and have nots and some whom want the best for everyone, and some whom want something for themselves… and everyone chasing the almight dollar.
Incentives are needed to influence the choices individuals make. Issues such as poverty and climate change require collective agreements on concerted action and governance across scales that go beyond an appeal to individual benefit. In short, humans need to start thinking more collectively. At the global, regional, national and local levels, decision makers must be acutely conscious of the fact that there are diverse challenges, multiple theoretical frameworks and development models and a wide range of options to meet development and sustainability goals. They need to start educating themselves and the general population to the fact that YES what one does DOES effect others, we DON’T live in our own little worlds. Our perception of the challenges and the choices we make at this juncture in history will determine how we protect our planet and secure our future. We need to understand that the planet is not just ours for the span of our own existence, it is, actually for future generations. Beginning to understand we are more caretakers than risktakers in terms of the planet, seems the way to go.
And so, if I were to look at what needs to be done, and taking into consideration all the data from all the agencies the world-over on the multitude of complex issues that are connected to food and its production and distribution, I would say that development and sustainability goals should be placed in the context of:
(i) current social and economic inequities and political uncertainties about war and conflicts;
(ii) uncertainties about the ability to sustainably produce and access sufficient food;
(iii) uncertainties about the future of world food prices;
(iv) changes in the economics of fossil based energy use;
(v) the emergence of new competitors for natural resources;
(vi) increasing chronic diseases that are partially a consequence of poor nutrition and poor food quality as well as food safety;
(vii) and changing environmental conditions and the growing awareness of human responsibility for the maintenance of global ecosystem services
Lastly, I think a very big concern would be the way in which our species has turned everything into a commodity. Banks and hedge funds are speculating on the prices of food. This needs to stop. Speculators are what caused in part (I would not say all, as I do believe we ALL play a part in all things), the internet bubble, the housing bust the collaps of banks and they are what will also cause a food crisis (in part)
Futures contracts’ have been used and were created as a way for farmers to deal with the uncertainty of growing crops (drought, floods, other natural disaters and the like are some examples of this uncertainty). With a futures contract, a farmer can sell his or her crops at a future date at a guaranteed price. However, these contracts can also be bought and sold by speculators who have no interest in the actual food being traded. Instead, by buying and selling the contracts they could profit from the prices changing over time – betting on the price of food.
These markets for futures contracts worked well until the late 1990s, when aggressive lobbying by bankers led to regulations being rolled back (as we know in the case of all the economic stumbles we are experiecing the world over now). New and complicated financial products created more ways to make money from betting on food. Corporations began to amalgimate, creating more demand for a greater profit for their shareholders and their bottom line. All the while, the fact that this was food… one of the few REAL needs of our species, seemed to be an afterthought.
Since the late ninties, the share of the markets for basic foods like wheat held by speculators – who have no connection to food – has increased from 12 per cent to 61 per cent. (source: the World Development Form). Deregulation has led to many of the problems we have in the world today (and anyone whom tells me… show me the facts on that… only need to look at any television news channel or even just walk the streets of their own city… especially in the west…to see the state of the ENTIRE world), and this same deregulation is the same thing that will lead to catastropic problems with food as we continue to move forward.
It is time to fundamentally rethink the role of agricultural knowledge, big business, corporate ownership, science and technology in achieving equitable development and sustainability. The focus must turn to the needs of small farms in diverse ecosystems and to areas with the greatest needs as well as improving and regulating the existing avenues we have in the developed world and beyond. This means improving rural livelihoods, empowering marginalized stakeholders, sustaining natural resources, enhancing multiple benefits provided by ecosystems, considering diverse forms of knowledge, regulating food resources better, changing our attitudes about food as a commodity and providing fair market access for farm products.
A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one. The Greeks understood this all those thousands of years ago, and it seems today, in our world where we are becoming more connected in many ways, we need to understand that connection is just not talking, just not selling and just not consuming, connection is in all things, at all times, and the most abvious of connects will almost most assuridely lead to a multiutde of others as well… If only we would take the time to really look.