Facing the Future Our Moment in History Jim Fournier January 14, 2008 Tipping Points
Three Big Ideas – in 30 min <ul><li>A new Meta-Narrative about our Time. </li></ul><ul><li>Climate Change as a far more serious but more rapidly solvable challenge. </li></ul><ul><li>Catalyzing greater collective global intelligence through the Internet. </li></ul>
A new meta-narrative, an attempt to radically reframe the story that we tell ourselves about reality.
A Synthesis of Two Apparently Contradictory World Views <ul><li>We are on a Collision Course with Global Catastrophe (Limits to Growth) </li></ul><ul><li>The Market & Technology will solve everything (The Market is God) </li></ul>
In Most Arguments Both Sides Are Right in What They Affirm and Wrong in What They Deny John Stuart Mill
Global Energy Use Per Person Has Actually Stopped Growing http://www.esru.strath.ac.uk/EandE/Web_sites/03-04/biomass/ background%20info.html
But the Population has Not, and thus CO 2 is Still Growing http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/english/publications/ap2000/Action_Plan_2000.htm
1000 years of Atmospheric CO 2 level and Temperature http://www.brighton73.freeserve.co.uk/gw/paleo/millenniumCO2.htm
CO 2 , Methane and Temperature over the last 160,000 years http://www.iitap.iastate.edu/gccourse/chem/gases/images/meth_temp.gif
Actual Arctic Sea Ice http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2007/seaice.shtml
Overall Consumption Is Still Growing http://www.oilcrash.com/articles/kerr_02.htm Natural Resources
Ecological Footprints Combine Many Factors, But We Should Focus More on Key Biological Resources: <ul><li>Forests </li></ul><ul><li>Fisheries </li></ul><ul><li>Farmland </li></ul><ul><li>Fresh Water </li></ul>
All Represent Absolute Limits to Population http://www.millenniuminstitute.net/publications/images/G2R.html_img_10.jpg
All Put Biodiversity At Risk http://www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/Hotspots
Global Economic Instability <ul><li>Debt-based Monetary System </li></ul><ul><li>“ Faith-based” Fiat Money </li></ul><ul><li>98% of Wealth Held by Less Than 2% of Population </li></ul><ul><li>95% of Global Economic Activity Is Speculative </li></ul><ul><li>Whole Regions of the World in Chronic Debt Crisis </li></ul>
What Are We to Make of the Current Global Situation? http://www.maa.org/devlin/GordianKnot.jpg
If we do not curtail our destruction of the biosphere, and halt our population growth very soon, not only will we face a die-off of most of the human population, we will foreclose the possibility of a viable world for all future generations.
Will Humanity Turn Out to Be Like a Colony of Mold in a Petri Dish?
Virtually all cultures have some tradition wherein it is understood that for an individual to arrive at a state of greater integration and spiritual realization, that person must first undergo a process of psycho-spiritual death and rebirth.
At the same time, numerous cultures all have prophesies that seem to foretell either, The End of the World , or The Birth of a New World , or both.
It would seem plausible that whatever event is being foretold would at once validate all of the prophesies in retrospect, and yet therefore also necessarily turn out to be different than any of their culturally bound interpretations.
What could happen that would at once be sufficient to fulfill our collective psychic experience of the End of the World , while at the same time allowing a New World to be born?
One event that could fulfill both conditions would be an economic collapse and subsequent transformation of the global monetary system.
But everything we can see suggests that economics will be but one among a multi-dimensional set of discontinuities.
For the meta-narrative to be compelling it must at once include the mythic dimension, but it must also embrace and transcend the material and scientific dimensions – for a culture trapped in materialism nothing less will be sufficient.
Reframing the Evolution of Technology In the Context of Biological Evolution Roger Dean
Life First Derived Energy from Chemicals in the Primordial Soup
Until it had Eaten All of the Soup and had to Invent Photosynthesis http://fig.cox.miami.edu/~tkoop/spring00/blnphotosyn.html
Only After the Oxygen Released had Rusted All of the Iron in the Earth’s Crust
The Oxygen Level Finally Spiked Causing Spontaneous Combustion, and the First Climate Crisis
Respiration Took Advantage of All the New High-Energy Oxygen http://bioweb.wku.edu/courses/BIOL115/Wyatt/Metabolism/Glycolysis2.htm
Resulting in the Carbon Cycle http://www.energex.com.au/switched_on/energy_environment/energy_s_html_carboncycle.html
The Carbon Cycle Has Remained in Balance Ever Since – Up Until Now http://www.bom.gov.au/info/climate/change/gallery/images/9.jpg
Thus, Peak Oil can actually be seen as at least the second energy crisis, and Global Warming as the second atmospheric crisis, in the history of life on Earth.
Renewables are on track to replace fossil fuel within 50 years or less, even at current growth rates. Solar Wind Biomass
But the atmospheric CO 2 level is already so high that it is driving an accelerating loss of Arctic Sea ice. This could set off an irrecoverable feedback loop long before then, even if we could reduce all CO 2 emissions to zero today.
Actual Arctic Sea Ice http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2007/seaice.shtml
Both geologic storage of CO 2 , and seeding the ocean with iron to promote algae bloom to remove CO 2 , are proving unsuccessful in recent scientific tests. However, there are two little known methods of addressing Climate Change that could allow us to first temporarily reverse the warming, and then gradually remove net CO 2 from the atmosphere over decades.
Global Cooling is a geo-engineering scheme wherein a fine mist of sea water would be sprayed up into low-lying ocean clouds to increase their reflectivity. Initial modeling indicates that this could counteract as much as twice the warming so far, and do so by means of small robotic wind powered ships at a total global cost of less than $100M/year.
Biochar is perhaps the only beneficial method of removing net carbon from the atmosphere. By making a portion of waste biomass into agricultural charcoal the process removes net carbon from the atmosphere while increasing soil fertility. If fully deployed globally, biochar might remove all of the net carbon released from burning fossil fuels, within about 50 years.
This allows us to imagine a scenario where Climate Change could prove to be an acute emergency, one that comes to a head within a few years, but one which must be dealt with by implementing both short-term mitigation and long-term solutions that will continue to be deployed over a period of many decades.
What if the crises we see on the horizon are not the beginning of a protracted dark age? What if the current model of infinitely accelerating growth is also incorrect? Many events that will be frightening to us may be exactly what must happen to make the leap to a truly sustainable long-term future, but what would that look like?
Buckminster Fuller First Described Humanity’s Option for Success
If Global Trends Decelerate, What Looked Like Log Curves and J-Curves May Turn Out to be Bell Curves and S-Curves
At the Point of Inflection on the S-Curve the System is: <ul><li>Changing So Fast That Nothing is Retained </li></ul><ul><li>So Inefficient Nothing Should Be Retained </li></ul><ul><li>First Glimpsing the Potential Future State </li></ul><ul><li>Passing Through the Neck of the Hourglass </li></ul><ul><li>Itself the Global Birth Canal </li></ul><ul><li>Chaotic, Highly Unstable </li></ul>
As We Pass Through the Neck of the Hourglass There Will Be Two Key Measures of Success: <ul><li>Preservation of Biodiversity </li></ul><ul><li>Achieving Climax Technology </li></ul>
The Family Tree of Life is the True Measure of Wealth Tree of Life Web Project http://tolweb.org/tree
For all of human evolution Nature was something with teeth and claws that could jump out of the dark and eat you. Now, in a single generation that situation has been inverted. Nature is suddenly something fragile that we must protect lest we perish.
We are undergoing a point of inversion in matter and culture. From this point on our technological evolution in matter may be guided by the recognition of the potential for a climax technology, a state of Meta-Nature. A state as harmonious as nature in the coherence of its design, which, like nature, is the realization of a potential already inherent in the puzzle that is matter. Meta-Nature
Photovoltaics Capture Photons in Silicon Just as Photosynthesis Does with Carbon
From Wood to Hydrogen http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch8en/conc8en/energytransition.html
Carbon to Hydrogen Ratio Has Been Evolving in Fossil Fuels <ul><li>Wood </li></ul><ul><li>Peat </li></ul><ul><li>Coal </li></ul><ul><li>Oil </li></ul><ul><li>Natural Gas </li></ul><ul><li>Hydrogen </li></ul><ul><li>Each has less carbon and more hydrogen until one arrives at pure hydrogen </li></ul><ul><li>Hydrogen is the smallest lightest element </li></ul>
Bucky Balls: Buckminsterfullerene and C 60 Based Carbon Nanotubes <ul><li>Carbon structures based on a geodesic sphere with 60 nodes will provide the ultra strong & ultra light-weight materials that will allow us to achieve the order of magnitude increase in natural resource and energy efficiency that we will need. </li></ul>
Summary of Meta-Nature <ul><li>An Octave of Nature </li></ul><ul><li>A Climax Technology </li></ul><ul><li>As Energy Efficient as Nature </li></ul><ul><li>As Material Efficient as Nature </li></ul><ul><li>Not Merely An Imitation of Nature </li></ul><ul><li>A Platonic Potential Inherent in Creation </li></ul>
The Shift must reframe the perception of society, to at once validate everything that has happened to bring us to this point, while at the same time making it self-evident to everyone that we must each now radically change course in the light of this new found perspective.
What can we do that would hasten the most positive outcome? Where would we find the growing tip of the Noosphere? The obvious answer is – online.
Google Maps & Google Earth http://maps.google.com http://earth.google.com
The confluence of online social networks and geospatial mapping offers a unique moment of opportunity for the emergence of a purposeful global social network; the wikipedia philosophy embodied in a truly distributed, decentralized, index, map and matrix based on self-descriptions of all entities engaged in global civil society.
Each is at best an island, or at worst a walled castle. Each keeps your identity data (and relationship data) inside its own proprietary database. Like the Internet itself, a truly inter-operable digital identity system must be based on open standards.
searched, crawled, indexed and situated, both conceptually, and geographically in relation to others within a global matrix of solutions. Each individual entity needs to be able to: <ul><li>Identify itself </li></ul><ul><li>Control its own profile </li></ul><ul><li>Declare its intention and purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Describe its offerings and needs </li></ul><ul><li>Tag itself in a manner that allows it to be </li></ul>
To empower those holding various pieces of the solution to see how they can be most effective, we might create conditions to catalyze a self-organizing online map. There are, and have been, many efforts to do this that we might partner with, but to be effective one must walk a fine line of supporting, without claiming, the center.