All the stealing and the taking leads to nothing at all.
– Andreas Vollenweider, Air (Track 2) 2009
It’s time to take a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook
and adapt one of his most famous lines to the new reality.
The 10 [now 11] most terrifying words in the English language are:
“I’m from the private sector and I’m here to help you.” – David Morris
Sometime this century, after four billion years, some of Earth’s regulatory systems will pass from control through evolution by natural selection, to control by human intelligence. Will humanity rise to the challenge?
– Professor Tim Flannery
|Regarding the process of scientific enquiry:
It is often held that scientific hypotheses are constructed, and are to be constructed, only after a detailed weighing of all possible evidence bearing on the matter, and that then and only then may one consider, and still only tentatively, any hypotheses. This traditional view however, is largely incorrect, for not only is it absurdly impossible of application, but it is contradicted by the history of the development of any scientific theory. What happens in practice is that by intuitive insight, or other inexplicable inspiration, the theorist decides that certain features seem to him more important than others and capable of explanation by certain hypotheses. Then basing his study on these hypotheses the attempt is made to deduce their consequences. The successful pioneer of theoretical science is he whose intuitions yield hypotheses on which satisfactory theories can be built, and conversely for the unsuccessful (as judged from a purely scientific standpoint).
– Fred Hoyle (1915-2001, mathematician and physicist, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge 1948-1973) and Raymond Arthur Littleton (1911-1995, British astronomer) Hoyle, Fred & Littleton, R.A. (1948). The Internal Constitution of the Stars, Occasional Notes of the Royal Astronomical Society: View source
'Now, I don’t reckon Lovelock is saying sit back and enjoy the apocalypse.
I think he’s saying we require radical action fast and that radical action will not come from the very interests that created and benefit from things being the way they are. The one place we cannot look for change is to the occupants of the bejeweled bus. They are the problem, we are the solution, so we have to look inside ourselves.' – Dr. Joe Romm, geophysicist
The World Values Survey, launched In 1981, is a global network of social scientists studying changing values and their impact on social and political life. Using a common questionnaire, they survey close to 90 percent of the world’s population within nearly 100 countries, representing the largest non-commercial, cross-national, time series investigation of human beliefs and values ever executed, and is the only academic study covering the full range of global variations, from very poor to very rich countries, in all of the world’s major cultural zones.
The WVS seeks to help scientists and policy makers understand changes in the beliefs, values and motivations of people throughout the world. Thousands of political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists and economists have used these data to analyze such topics as economic development, democratization, religion, gender equality, social capital, and subjective well-being. These data have also been widely used by government officials, journalists and students, and groups at the World Bank have analyzed the linkages between cultural factors and economic development. >>> more
Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map
Analysis of WVS data made by political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel asserts that there are two major dimensions of cross cultural variation in the world:
Traditional values versus Secular-rational values and
Survival values versus Self-expression values.
The global cultural map shows how scores of societies are located on these two dimensions. Moving upward on this map reflects the shift from Traditional values to Secular-rational and moving rightward reflects the shift from Survival values to Self–expression values. >>> more
Was the World Made for Man?
In 1903, Mark Twain explained...
I seem to be the only scientist and theologian still remaining to be heard from on this important matter of whether the world was made for man or not. I feel that it is time for me to speak. I stand almost with the others. They believe the world was made for man, I believe it likely that it was made for man; they think there is proof, astronomical mainly, that it was made for man, I think there is evidence only, not proof, that it was made for him. It is too early, yet, to arrange the verdict, the returns are not all in. When they are all in, I think they will show that the world was made for man; but we must not hurry, we must patiently wait till they are all in. >>> more
|Australian Arrente-Alyawarra elder
Rosie Kunoth-Monks' statement
I have a culture. I am a cultured person (speaks in language).
I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being. John [Pilger] chose [to depict] what is an ongoing denial of me. I am not an Aboriginal, or indeed Indigenous. I am an Arrente, Alyawarra First Nations person, a sovereign person from this country (speaks in language). I
didn’t come from overseas. I came from here… I am alive. I am here and now. And I speak my language. I practice my cultural essence of me. Don’t try and suppress me and don't call me a problem. I am not the problem. I have never left my country nor have I ceded any part of it. Nobody has entered into a treaty or talked to me about who I am. I am Arrente, Alyawarra female elder from this country. Please remember that. I am not the problem.
Rosie Kunoth-Monks' response to the question about whether or not things had improved for her people.
Nothing at all…. It doesn’t matter if the government changes. A white Australian policy is alive and well in Australia, and it usually experiments on blacks in the Northern Territory, because we are not a state. Come up and live with me some time. Live my life and I’ll show you.
Watch the ABC Q&A video here:
Read the article by Chris Graham, producer for John Pilger's UTOPIA
Given more food and better conditions, animals and vegetables can only multiply — but humans will develop.
In the one case, the expansive force can only extend in greater numbers. In the other, it will tend to extend existence into higher forms and wider powers.
– Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1879).
Henry George also stated:
liberty means justice and justice is the natural law, and believed that the social and economic ills besetting the world are the result of non-conformance to natural law. All persons have a right to the use of the earth and all have a right to the fruits of their labor. To implement these rights, he proposed that the rent of land be taken by the community as public revenue, and that all taxes on labor and the fruits of labor be abolished.
Interview with Haydn Washington, author of Demystifying Sustainability (Routhledge, 2015), Environmental Scientist and Visiting Fellow, Institute of Environmental Studies, University of New South Wales.
What is sustainability?
Much has been said about the terms 'sustainability' and 'sustainable development' over the last few decades, but they have become buried under academic jargon. This book is one of the first that aims to demystify sustainability so that the layperson can understand the key issues, questions and values involved. Accessible and engaging, the book examines the 'old' sustainability of the past and looks to the future, considering how economic, ecological and social sustainability should be defined if we are to solve the entwined environmental, economic and social crises. It considers if meaningful sustainability is the same as a 'sustainable development' based on endless growth, examining the difficult but central issues of overpopulation and overconsumption that drive unsustainability. The book also explores the central role played by society's worldview and ethics, along with humanity's most dangerous characteristic - denial. Finally, it looks to the future, discussing the 'appropriate' technology needed for sustainability, and suggesting nine key solutions. This book provides a much-needed comprehensive discussion of what sustainability means for students, policy makers and all those interested in a sustainable future.
See full interview transcript here:
What we have ignored is what citizens can do and the importance of real involvement of the people involved. – Elinor Ostrom
The theory of the Tragedy of the Commons
by Professor Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012),
winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, 2009.
Note: This is The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founded by the Bank of Sweden in collaboration with international banks, and not the Nobel family's prize. There is an irony in the fact that commercial interests would promote Professor Ostrom's work by publishing an agenda that is fundamentally NOT in their traditional interest: the theory that private property is the only effective method to prevent finite resources from being ruined or depleted. According to Hazel Henderson, "The Bank set up this $1 million prize in 1969, as I have held, in order to legitimize the economics profession as a science."
See her report for more details.
On The Commons featured a comprehensive report.
Ostrom’s Nobel Prize is a Milestone for the Commons Movement
A major roadblock standing in the way of many people’s recognition of the importance of the commons came tumbling down in 2009 when Indiana University professor Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize for economics.
Over many decades, Ostrom has documented how various communities manage common resources – grazing lands, forests, irrigation waters, fisheries equitably and sustainably – over the long term.
The Nobel Committee’s recognition of her work effectively debunked popular theories about the Tragedy of the Commons, which hold that private property is the only effective method to prevent finite resources from being ruined or depleted.
Awarding the world’s most prestigious economics prize to a scholar who champions cooperative behavior greatly boosted the legitimacy of the commons as a framework for solving our social and environmental problems. Ostrom’s work also challenges the current economic orthodoxy that there are few, if any, alternatives to privatization and markets in generating wealth and human well being.
The Tragedy of the Commons refers to a scenario in which commonly held land is inevitably degraded because everyone in a community is allowed to graze livestock there. This parable was popularized by wildlife biologist Garrett Hardin in the late 1960s, and was embraced as a principle by the emerging environmental movement. But Ostrom’s research refutes this abstract concept once-and-for-all with the real life experience from places like Nepal, Kenya and Guatemala.
"When local users of a forest have a long-term perspective, they are more likely to monitor each other’s use of the land, developing rules for behavior,” she cited as an example, “It is an area that standard market theory does not touch."
Note: Garrett Hardin later revised his own view, noting that what he described was actually the Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons.
Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, also winner of a same Nobel prize, notes: “Conservatives used the Tragedy of the Commons to argue for property rights, and efficiency was achieved as people were thrown off the commons… What Ostrom has demonstrated is the existence of social control mechanisms that regulate the use of the commons without having to resort to property rights.”
While right-wing thinkers scoffed at the possibility of resources being shared in a way that maintains the common good, arguing that private property is the only practical strategy to prevent this tragedy, Ostrom’s scholarship shows otherwise.
|It's your world!
Everyone has duties to the community in which
the free and full development of his personality is possible.
– United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 29.1
Natural Systems Principles
Transition toward a Sustainable Future
Systems Analyst Dave Ewaldt's submission to MIT Climate CoLab 2014.
1) The integration of human social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain rather than degrade or destroy the environment;
2) A moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations;
3) Entails determining, and staying within, the balance point among population, consumption and waste assimilation so bioregions, watersheds and ecosystems can maintain their ability to recharge, replenish and regenerate.
What are key benefits?
The key benefit is stopping ecocide. A secondary benefit is ending inequality. It will also take us off the path of Empire. Here's the way it works: True justice is not possible without sustainability, and without justice there will never be peace.
What are the proposal’s costs?
What is the cost of life? What will be the cost of not taking serious action? It's long past time to stop thinking that power and profit are more important than people and planet. A major aspect of the current rapidly converging global crises (peak oil, global warming, and corporatism) is monetizing everything.
It starts with local, state, and national governments adopting the defintion of sustainability as a yardstick for further action. Systemic change is a dynamic process. We must keep the goal of a sustainable future in mind as we fine tune and refine the overall project. >>> more
Could the food movement be the missing vehicle for transformative social change?
Lessons from the food movement!
Why the Food Movement is Unstoppable
by Jonathan Latham, PhD
In 1381, for the first and only time, the dreaded Tower of London was captured from the King of England. The forces that seized it did not belong to a foreign power; nor were they rebellious workers – they were peasants who went on to behead the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of Canterbury who were, after the king, the country’s leading figures. A tad more recently, in the U.S. presidential election of 1892 a radical populist movement campaigned for wealth redistribution and profound economic reform. The populists won five states. All of them were rural.
Descent from such rebels is typically claimed by unions and groups on the political left; but, over the long run of history, the most effective opponents of excessive wealth and privilege have not normally been city dwellers, workers or unions. Instead, they have usually been those with close links to food and the land, what we would now identify as the food movement. Even today, in more than a few countries, food is the organising principle behind the main challengers of existing power structures.
... Miguel Ramirez recently explained: We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers. >>> more
The Microbiologist & The Forester
Caifornia Institute of Technology Microbiologist Sarkis K. Mazmanian's study, "Evolutionary Mechanisms of Host-Bacterial Symbiosis during Health and Disease" explains the role of bacteria in supporting the immune system, while Professor Suzanne Simard at the University of British Columbia goes a step further in making the science understandable to the lay person:
The Consciousness of Trees
"Mother trees are linked as far as the eye can see and trees in-between are bridges for the network"
In this real-life model of forest resilience and regeneration, Professor Suzanne Simard shows that all trees in a forest ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, "mother trees" serving as hubs. The underground exchange of nutrients increases the survival of younger trees linked into the network of old trees. Amazingly, we find that in a forest, 1+1 equals more than 2.
A Network Spanning the Forest
Professor Suzanne Simard
University of British Columbia. A forester specialised into looking at below ground communities.
"These plants are really not individuals in the sense that Darwin thought they were individuals competing for survival of the fittest. In fact they'r interacting with each other trying to help each other survive. We've found that fungi will connect one plant to another plant …shuffling carbon and nitrogen back and forth according to who needs it."
Dr. Suzanne Simard is a professor with the UBC Faculty of Forestry, where she lectures on and researches the role of mycorrhizae and mycorrhizal networks in tree species migrations with climate change disturbance. Networks of mycorrhizal fungal mycelium have recently been discovered by Professor Suzanne Simard and her graduate students to connect the roots of trees and facilitate the sharing of resources in Douglas-fir forests of interior British Columbia, thereby bolstering their resilience against disturbance or stress and facilitating the establishment of new regeneration.
Dr. Simard writes:
Mycorrhizal fungi form obligate symbioses with trees, where the tree supplies the fungus with carbohydrate energy in return for water and nutrients the fungal mycelia gather from the soil; mycorrhizal networks form when mycelia connect the roots of two or more plants of the same or different species. Graduate student Kevin Beiler has uncovered the extent and architecture of this network through the use of new molecular tools that can distinguish the DNA of one fungal individual from another, or of one tree's roots from another. He has found that all trees in dry interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) forests are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs, much like the hub of a spoked wheel, where younger trees establish within the mycorrhizal network of the old trees. Through careful experimentation, recent graduate Francois Teste determined that survival of these establishing trees was greatly enhanced when they were linked into the network of the old trees.Through the use of stable isotope tracers, he and Amanda Schoonmaker, a recent undergraduate student in Forestry, found that increased survival was associated with belowground transfer of carbon, nitrogen and water from the old trees. This research provides strong evidence that maintaining forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests.
In wetter, mixed-species interior Douglas-fir forests, graduate student Brendan Twieg also used molecular tools to discover that Douglas-fir and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) trees can be linked together by species-rich mycorrhizal networks. We found that the mycorrhizal network serves as a belowground pathway for transfer of carbon from the nutrient-rich deciduous trees to nearby regenerating Douglas-fir seedlings. Moreover, we found that carbon transfer was enhanced when Douglas-fir seedlings were shaded in mid-summer, providing a subsidy that may be important in Douglas-fir survival and growth, thus helping maintain a mixed forest community during early succession. This is not a one-way subsidy, however; graduate Leanne Philip discovered that Douglas-fir supported their birch neighbours in the spring and fall by sending back some of this carbon when the birch was leafless. This back-and-forth flux of resources according to need may be one process that maintains forest diversity and stability.
Mycorrhizal networks may be critical in helping forest ecosystems deal with climate change. Maintaining the biological webs that stabilize forests may help conserve genetic resources for future tree migrations, ensure that forest carbon stocks remain intact on the landscape, and conserve species diversity. UBC graduate student Marcus Bingham is finding that maintaining mycorrhizal webs may be more important for the regeneration and stability of the dry than wet interior Douglas-fir forests, where resources are more limited and climate change is expected to have greater impacts. Helping the landscape adapt to climate change will require more than keeping existing forests intact, however. Many scientists are concerned that species will need to migrate at a profoundly more rapid rate than they have in the past, and that humans can facilitate this migration by planting tree species adapted to warm climates in new areas. UBC graduate student Brendan Twieg is starting new research to help us understand whether the presence of appropriate mycorrhizal symbionts in foreign soils may limit the success of tree migrations, and if so, to help us design practices that increase our success at facilitating changes in these forests.
German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too
NY Times review: "The Secret Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben
Excerpt: Peter Wohlleben had found what he was looking for: a pair of towering beeches. “These trees are friends,” he said, craning his neck to look at the leafless crowns, black against a gray sky. “You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light. ...in nature, trees operate less like individuals and more as communal beings. Working together in networks and sharing resources, they increase their resistance. ...
By artificially spacing out trees, the plantation forests that make up most of Germany’s woods ensure that trees get more sunlight and grow faster. But, naturalists say, creating too much space between trees can disconnect them from their networks, stymieing some of their inborn resilience mechanisms." >>> more
|We are leaving behind a world that is no longer sustainable, and moving into a world in which we can thrive.
– Dr. Bruce Lipton, Stem cell Biologist
Author of The Biology of Belief:
We perceive ourselves as single individual entities.
The truth is we are actually comprised of upwards to 50 trillion individual living cells. Each cell is a sentient being, so, therefore, each cell is like a citizen in a large community of 50 trillion entities in one population. The body is not a single entity. It is a community. In the body, the shared vision that coordinates all the functions of the cell is what we call 'the mind'. The mind is like a government for the 50 trillion cells. But the moment you introduce fear into the system, that is the first thing that causes the community to breakdown. Fear is the primary cause of the stresses that promote the illnesses and dis-eases that we face as humans.
...If we could ultimately get rid of fear in our population, then, basically, we would put all of our reserves, all of our energy and all of our body systems into the mode of growth and maintenance, and therefore, not only would we be healthy as individuals, but then, as a community, all healthy individuals in a community would raise the level of life in that particular community so that there is the great possibility of a future of growth and peace and harmony once the concept of fear is removed from our belief system.
SETTING PRIORITIES (See Economic Policy Resolution)
health, habitat, economic security.
"Tax bads not goods" Frank deJong
A shift in tax policy can rebalance:
– production and speculation
– environment and industry
– small and large business
– capital and labour
To become fully human, people have lower order needs that in general must be fulfilled before high order needs can be satisfied: 'five sets of needs - physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization'. Abraham Maslow
Affordable access to land and a home is key to psychological and economic sustainability.
"a longing for coming home to the sacredness of our belonging to the living body of earth and the joy of serving that at every step." Joanna Macy
Collection of Economic Rent via a "Single Tax" instead of taxing productivity would deliver:
– sustainable natural resource use
– a carbon inclusive economy
– affordable housing
– less urban sprawl
– self-financing public transport
– more income, less tax, less work.
– environmental protection
– a basic social wage/Citizen Dividend
– the end of poverty
|For the study of political economy you need no special knowledge, no extensive library, no costly laboratory. You do not even need text-books nor teachers, if you will but think for yourselves. All that you need is care in reducing complex phenomena to their elements, in distinguishing the essential from the accidental, and in applying the simple laws of human action with which you are familiar.
– Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1879)
Progress and Poverty (1879)
by Henry George (1839–1897)
(Download a free copy of Progress and Poverty in pdf format)
Production and consumption are only relative terms.
Speaking absolutely, people neither produce nor consume.
They cannot exhaust or lessen the powers of nature.
If the whole human race were to work forever, they could not make the Earth one atom heavier or lighter. Nor could they augment or diminish the forces that produce all motion and sustain all life.
Water taken from the ocean must eventually return to the ocean. So too, the food we take from nature is, from the moment we take it, on its way back to those same reservoirs. What we draw from a limited extent of land may temporarily reduce the productiveness of that land. But the return will go to other land.
Life does not use up the forces that maintain life.
We come into the material universe bringing nothing; we take nothing away when we depart. The human being, in physical terms, is just a transitory form of matter, a changing mode of motion. From this, it follows that the limit to population can be only the limit of space — that the human race may not increase its numbers beyond the possibility of finding elbow room. Remote and shadowy as it is, this possibility is what makes Malthus' theory appear self-evident.
But there is still another difference:
Humans are the only animals whose desires increase as they are fed — the only animal that is never satisfied. The wants of every other living thing are fixed. The ox of today aspires to no more than the ox that humans first yoked. The only use they can make of additional supplies, or additional opportunities, is to multiply.
But not so humans. No sooner are our animal wants satisfied than new wants arise. The beast never goes further, but humans have just set their foot on the first step of an infinite progression.
Once the demand for quantity is satisfied, we seek quality.
As human power to gratify our wants increases, our aspirations grow. At the lower levels of desire, we seek merely to satisfy our senses. Moving to higher forms of desire, humans awaken to other things.
We brave the desert and the polar sea, but not for food;
we want to know how the earth was formed and how life arose. We toil to satisfy a hunger no animal has felt, a thirst no beast can know.
Given more food and better conditions, animals and vegetables can only multiply — but humans will develop.
In the one case, the expansive force can only extend in greater numbers. In the other, it will tend to extend existence into higher forms and wider powers.
On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture
by Dahr Jamail
EXCERPTS from an interview with Joanna Macy:
The Great Unraveling – and – The Great Turning
Joanna Macy is the author of 12 books, and is well known for having coined "The Great Unraveling," which references the collapsing of systems (both natural and human-made) under the weight of the failing industrial growth society that is literally consuming the planet. She is even better known for "The Great Turning," which she believes is what is happening simultaneous to the Great Unraveling.
"The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time," Macy said. "The shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization. The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits. In other words by how fast materials can be extracted from earth and turned into consumer products, weapons and waste."
She believes that a revolution is already well underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying the world.
We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water and meet rational energy needs," she explained. "Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. ... This is really happening. There's nothing to stop it now." These are the words of Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research for a recent report that showed the ongoing massive collapse of the Western Antarctic ice sheet that will raise global sea levels by at least 10 feet.
News like this finds us daily now, as the fire hose of information about the destruction the industrial growth society has brought to the planet gushes. It is an overwhelming amount of information. Being a mountaineer, every time I learn of the collapse of yet another massive glacial system, or the baring of a magnificent peak that was once gleaming in ice and snow, it feels like a punch in my stomach. Like I've lost a close relative, or a good friend. Again. Macy, during the interview I did with her for this article, warned of the consequences of not allowing ourselves to access the feelings elicited by our witnessing. ...
When corporate-controlled media keep the public in the dark, and power-holders manipulate events to create a climate of fear and obedience, truth-telling is like oxygen,… We all ache to come home to a larger identity and belonging, ... not to be numb and separate, but it’s to be together, even in pain. But then the pain gets transformed into passion for life and a bubbling up of compassion. Freeing yourself from that prison cell of the separate ego and the lonely cowboy ego.
Macy does not believe that becoming engaged in work for the betterment of the planet involves arduous sacrifice, but rather to do what at our deepest level we crave most of all.
It is a longing for coming home to the sacredness of our belonging to the living body of earth and the joy of serving that at every step," she said. "I make it sound easy but we can’t do it alone. Just hearing the news of what is happening each day on the planet, I can’t handle all of it alone. I’m not supposed to. Even looking at it requires we reach out to each other and take each other’s arm and I can tell you how I feel, and you will listen. The very steps we need to take bring us the relief and reward of the whole point of it, which is our collective nature, our non-separateness, because this is the only thing that can save us. >>> more
Your Inner Fish
A journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
by Neil Shubin, Professor of Anatomy, and scientific illustrator Kalliopi Monoyios at the University of Chicago.
Free Teaching Tools
In Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin tells the story of evolution by tracing the organs of the human body back millions of years, long before the first creatures walked the earth. By examining fossils and DNA, Shubin shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our head is organized like that of a long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genome look and function like those of worms and bacteria. We have compiled the figures from the book into a deck of PowerPoint slides for use in the classroom. Download here:
The pale blue dot
Astronomer Carl Sagan
Earth, from 4 billion miles away
Photographed by Voyager 1 June 1990
That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there ~ on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. >>>more
See the 3:31 min. YouTube video narrated by Carl Sagan
The Very Long Base Array (VLBA) made this image of Voyager 1's signal on Feb. 21, 2013. At the time, Voyager 1 was 11.5 billion miles (18.5 billion kilometers) away. The image is about 0.5 arcseconds on a side. An arcsecond is the apparent size of a penny as seen from 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) away. The slightly oblong shape of the image is a result of the array's configuration.
As Voyager 1 escapes our star solar system and enters the uncharted black void of interstellar space, it carries a non-threatening message to the millions of solar neighbors in our Milky Way galaxy and thanks to Carl Sagan, it's a message of love, altruism and social cooperation which just so happens to be the driving force of evolution.
|Outer Space Treaty of 1967, Article II
Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means. >>> more
Imagining interstellar distances
There are 200 million star systems, most of them with planets, in our own Milky Way galaxy and it would take over 200 million years for our star system to make one orbit of our Milky Way galaxy.
According to the best estimates of astronomers there are at least one hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe ~ which means if you hold up a grain of sand, the patch of sky it covers probably contains at least 10,000 galaxies.
On September 12, 2013, NASA announced that Voyager 1 had crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space on August 25, 2012, making it the first manmade object to do so and it only has enough power for its instruments until 2025. In 2025 all instruments will be turned off, and the science team will be able to operate the spacecraft for about 10 years after that to collect engineering data. In the year 40,272 AD, Voyager 1 will come within 1.7 light years of an obscure star in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Bear or Little Dipper) called AC+79 3888. It will then swing around that star and orbit about the center of our Milky Way, likely for millions of years.
In other words, the star closest to our own solar system is 4.37 light years away, so Voyager 1 would still take over 50,000 years to get there. >>> more
Some Strange Things Are Happening
To Astronauts Returning To Earth
Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available … a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose. – Fred Hoyle, (1915-2001, mathematician and physicist, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge 1948-1973)
A new kind of self awareness. – David Loy, Philosopher
When we went to the moon, our total focus was on the moon. We weren't thinking of looking back at the earth. But now that we've done it, that may be the most important reason we went. – David Beaver, Co-Founder, Overview Institute
When you do finally look at the earth for the first time you're overwhelmed by how much more beautiful it really is when you see it for real. This dynamic alive place that you see glowing all the time. – Nicole Stott, Shuttle/ISS Astronaut
Gravitational waves discovered:
The universe has spoken
It is hard to overstate the significance of this discovery. It is our first direct contact with our first stellar ancestors. It is our first direct view of a place in the universe where matter loses all its identity and time comes to an end. It is the first of many messages that will tell us how many black holes are out there and how much of the mass of the universe they can account for.
A long time coming
The first detection occurred 99 years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves. Two Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (aLIGO) laser interferometers simultaneously detected a signal characteristic of a pair black holes – 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun – merging into one.
Gravitational waves are akin to sound waves: they make things vibrate. Our detectors are our bionic ears that allow us to listen to the universe. The signal from the pair of black holes started two octaves below middle C, and rose up to middle C in one tenth of a second. The signal itself was detected as a vibration of the distance between mirrors four kilometres apart. They changed their spacing by about a billionth of the diameter of an atom.
|Alternative Perspective on 'Old-fashioned' Thinking
In Family and Civilization (1949), Carle C. Zimmerman purports to present a comprehensive understanding of European history. The following critical review was published in American Anthropologist Volume 51, Issue 2, pages 313–314, April-June 1949
Reviewer: FRANCIS L. K. Hsu (1909-1999) was Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois. Professor Hsu held degrees in Sociology, Economics (LSE), and Anthropology, specializing in kinship patterns and cultural comparisons between large, literate societies, namely, the United States, China, India, and Japan.
The essential arguments of this book, including the characteristics and the causes of the three main types of family found in Western civilization (designated Trustee, Domestic and Atomistic), as well as the dangers of the last and most recent type and the ways in which they may be avoided, have been presented in summary by the skilled writers of one of the most popular American magazines (Life, July 26, 1948).
The present reviewer can find little agreement with Dr. Zimmerman’s remedy, based upon an alleged similarity between ancient Greek and Roman families and modern Western families, to save the moderm world from the collapse he foresees. In essence, the remedy is that if civilization is to be saved, the family pattern must be changed. It bears a great deal of resemblance to the simplified formula prescribed by some psychoanalysts for world peace. But while the pros and cons of such a remedy are a matter for debate, a number of basic points of reference essential to the foundation of the book are a matter of the author’s ignorance. These points of reference center around Dr. Zimmerman’s distinction between “primitive” and “civilized” families, which in turn constitutes the reason for leaving out a consideration of the family in nonliterate societies. These reasons, which are found on p. 92 of the book, are briefly as follows: >>> more
Dr. Martin Seligman, father of the Positive Psychology movement, defined three forms of happiness:
~ For the Pleasant Life, you aim to have as much positive emotion as possible and learn the skills to amplify positive emotion.
~ For the Engaged Life, you identify your highest strengths and talents and recraft your life to use them as much as you can in work, love, friendship, parenting, and leisure.
~ For the Meaningful Life, you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self...
On pessimism and optimism, Dr Seligman also had this to say: "The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback..."
Pessimists can in fact learn to be optimists, ...by learning a new set of cognitive skills.
"Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man." - JFK