This will be a multi-part series written and displayed as a single, cumulative post February 1, 2019 – Basics
To live as long as expected, as free from illness as possible and have a reasonable quality of life the first requirement is a place that has the potential to provide the basic requirements of life for the number of inhabitants living there. At this point in the precarious state of Earth, the evolution of life and the still growing human population this is far from easy. The basic requirements for human life are breathable air, drinkable water, nutritious food, adequate energy, clothing, security from harm, and shelter.
In the geographical area where I live, the province of British Columbia, Canada, we are fortunate to have several underused areas of sufficient size to support a sizable population with the above requirements for the duration of the 21st century. As well as providing these sustainability requirements locally there are conditions which must be achieved and maintained in order for this to be successful here or anywhere else on Earth. These conditions include human population control, a stop to the burning of fossil fuels, changes to the human diet and to the ways food is produced, radical cessation of non-renewable resource extraction, elimination or at least major reduction in a very large number of pollutants being released into the natural environment, avoidance of nuclear conflict, and huge changes to the distribution of wealth. All these changes must be brought about worldwide without simply having equally damaging conditions arise during the process.
Along with the above changes to man-made conditions there are a number of natural threats to the survival of humanity, most of which we have almost no control over. These include asteroid strikes, mega-volcanoes and intercontinental pandemics. In pandemics of the future there will be a good chance that climate will play a part in the initiation, spread and severity thus making them only marginally natural but for now I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt!
February 15, 2019 – At this time, many of us who live in what is generally known as the “developed” world are divided by two seemingly irreconcilable worldviews.
Worldview 1 represents reality as it is seen and lived by its exponents and as it is described and proven by science. At this time, this seems to be a minority view and not well understood by the general public, the business world or democratic political leaders.
Worldview 2 is a fantasy world as it is imagined by its defenders who pay little or no attention to the world around them, by those who have not had the benefit of a liberal education including the sciences, and is promoted by those who stand to profit in the short term by avoiding the truth. This is the world that the majority seem to want to live in so it is easy for them to be convinced that it is true.
March 11, 2019 – Complex Systems of Complex Systems of Complex Systems of . . . . .
North Americans live in what is variously called the Western, Industrialized, or First World, none of which make any sense whatsoever. However, that is one of the ways in which we divide and describe ourselves for whatever purpose division is required. Unfortunately, we Westerners are not very good at Systems Thinking, a tool which helps to explain the working of everything from a bacterium to our universe. As a result, we do not understand ourselves, our world or the Cosmos very well.
Everything in our bodies, our town, our nation, our world, our solar system, our galaxy and our universe is interconnected, interdependent and a part of myriad complex systems of complex systems. This massive complexity scares the crap out of most people and many of them simply refuse to think about it. We don’t get off the hook that easily though, we still have to live within these systems. So how can we prepare ourselves to understand and control the environment we are part of for the long term? (Note that I consider each of us to be a part of the environment rather than apart from it).
May 2019 – Can our species continue?
Fortunately as individuals we do not have to exercise our influence continually on the entirety of anything beyond our local space and those who we occupy that space with; our families, neighbours and decreasingly our geographical area, and nation. However, we should strive to have an understanding of the entirety of at least our solar system as we humans have a massive influence on the well-being of our world and are poised to, for better or for worse, extend that influence throughout our solar system.
NASA and the space agencies of Russia, China, Europe, India as well as corporations such as Space-X, Virgin Galactic, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others are all actively engaged in design and production of space vehicles. A space port on the moon and human habitation on Mars are very much in the planning stages already. I share the belief of many that the rush to establish these human outposts is so that when extirpation of humanity on earth takes place these individuals could rebuild the species elsewhere in the solar system.
Another reason for us all to develop an understanding of ourselves and our actions is the fact that most of us live in democratic nations. Democracy does not come cheaply or easily. Unless the people who are eligible to vote and therefore control who the leaders will be are well informed and involved, poor leaders may be chosen and poor leadership will surely follow. A look back at world affairs of any period since the emergence of citizenship and democracy, generally attributed to 6th century Greece will attest to this.
I call the level of understanding required by civilisation and democracy a “conversational level” which implies that a person feels confident to converse with her/his peers about most common subjects and be able to both contribute to and benefit from the conversation. None of us are required to be experts in fields outside our vocation but we should expect ourselves and others to have this conversational level of understanding about as wide a range of concepts as possible.
A good living system of systems to practice understanding is our own human bodies. A good example, mainly from the somewhat simpler world of plants is forests. Even simpler systems such as the hydrologic (water) cycle occur in the natural but non living world. I can still see the Water System poster on the wall of my grade 8 classroom and how it allowed me to understand why it rained more in British Columbia than it did in Arizona . . . and how that meant that B.C. had lots of trees and AZ had cactus instead and . . . how that meant that B.C. would be a more locally sustainable area for humans to live than AZ . . . and on, and on through the labyrinth of those interconnections.
There are a number of possibilities for acquiring the knowledge and understanding that enables us to achieve this conversational level about an array of subjects. School districts and post secondary learning centres often offer “Continuing Education” programs which are designed for an average citizen level. Most towns and cities give access to an excellent library system for little or no cost and may also host talks, workshops or seminars on a variety of subjects. Use these and do not be afraid to ask questions, that’s why the teachers are there and willing to donate their time and expertise. For those who have kids in school at any level . . . listen to them. Not every school, every teacher or every child has the resources to access and understand the latest research on existential threats to Earth and humankind or how best to mitigate them but they probably have have a better chance than adults who get their information from TV news.