Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Sustainable World Civilization?

Is the human mind capable of grasping the complexity and the scale of the system we are trying to control?

The social organizations and coping habits we used 50k years ago are still in place today. Can we raise our consciousness enough to survive, as a species?

Ashby’s law of sufficient diversity. Ability to manage must expand geometrically with each linear expansion of the system that sustains us.

Asks, Prof. William Reece, UBC ecological economics

Humankind is little more than a vast collection of tribes and other self-interested groups who will fight tooth and nail, kill their neighbours without regret, and breed themselves out of existence rather than impoverish themselves to save some unrelated strangers ten thousand kilometers away.
World Society is a myth perpetrated by money-hungry corporations to sell widgets.

The few ridiculously rich people who adopt starving Ethiopean children or who kid themselves that recycling cardboard cereal boxes will make the slightest difference to the climate, aren’t enough of an ameliorating influence on the violent mobs that predominate the world population.

When the house gets cold, and food gets short, altruism goes out the window. It is a luxury of the rich and those who delude themselves that they are well off. Neighbours will come to blows over garden watering violations. It is foolish to think that food or fuel shortages, will somehow bring a population together to live in harmony more than a few weeks, as in say, a natural disaster. The latter only stimulates charitable behaviour when it is temporary and singular. When disaster is widespread and long term, altruism goes out the window.

The UN estimated 9.2 Billion population by 2050, should be a headline on every newspaper, every day, if we were serious about sustaining our current level of sophisticated world society. It isn’t.

Evolutionary forces operate on a time scale beyond the scope of most people to grasp.
The smartest people alive today are not more intelligent than people who lived before the earliest recorded civilizations. We have risen from the nomadic tribes of 10,000 years ago to the space age technological world society we have today. However the competition between groups, whether tribal, ethnic, cultural, gender, age, cult, gang, secret society, has not diminished.
Survival of a world society, however it is conceived by big thinkers, is a short-lived concept.
The industrial age, information age, as dependent as it is on cheap energy, is short-lived. It arose in less than two hundred years and can become medieval in nature and structure again in a few centuries.

In other words, human nature hasn’t changed enough for this complex, energy dependent, unsustainable society of 6-9 billion people to survive. How it will collapse will be a matter of dramatic and tragic events cascading one upon another until a dynamic stability is achieved.

Another way of looking at the question, “Is our world society sustainable? Can it be?” is to realize that the perception that we have a world society is not a universal one. The third world population, Africa, India, Asia, South America comprises 80% of the world’s population. They are poor. They do not perceive that there is a sophisticated wealthy, world society. Rather they think that there are a few rich people who have exploited them unfairly. They are right. 20 people living well, does not typify or identify the nature of a society when the other 80% are starving in sub-standard shelters with inadequate supplies of fresh water.

The chattering of hosts and guests on TV shows about this or that fashion, musical event or new widget (I-phone, say) is just a few rich people yakking with each other about how great their lives are while the vast majority of people – 5 billion or more worldwide – worry about where their next meal will come from.

There is no sense of reality in the world, just mass-deception and denial.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Amazon's Kindle Book Reader

Amazon unveils Kindle an electronic device that can store up to 200 books and downloads titles sold by Amazon - 80,000 titles already.

It’s not the first portable reading device, Bill Gates unveiled a book reader by Microsoft on a TV interview New year’s Day 2000 – for the new Millennium.

Sefton’s worried about the experience” of reading being degraded,, but being able to size the print for your eyes eliminates the need for Large Print editions as well as “normal” print sized books – surely a boon to an increasingly aging demographic. Flipping back and forth, etc. are all features that they will develop as soon as the readers give feedback. The Kindle 2.0 and 3.0 and 4.0 cannot be far behind. We are no longer using Windows 3.1, anybody miss it?

Scavella says books are biodegradable – Kindle cuts no trees in the first place
If cameras can be waterproof so can Kindle book readers, plus, nobody has yet died from a 9-volt battery discharge.

Rik wants finger touch screens, he’ll have them before Xmas 2008 – and more.
And, yes, Howard, top-to-bottom for Chinese characters as well. I bet they are already available in Taiwan but they never bothered to tell us waiguoren (foreigners).

Rachel – never mind page refresh and bleeding eyes – before you know it there will be an audio available with headphones for blind people. Character recognition from digital sources (ascii text) is easy – right now it sounds like Stephen Hawking but that will change. There will be a new industry for people with nice voices who can sight-read out loud. Screens have been improving amazingly in recent MONTHS!

Having your 200 volume library take up no more space than a pohone book does now is a huge boon for storage space, allergy sufferers who put up with book dust.

Costs come down so publishers will more willingly take on new writers or better yet, new writers can self publish as did James Redfield without huge risks in investment.

Writers may finally get paid what they are worth – it just may not be as much as they think it should be. This may herald the end of the wealthy author of a single best-selling book. There now can be thousands of new authors published each year instead of say, 10 per big publishing house, only a few hundred. (per language, per country)

Harry – the first transistor radio from Sony – in circa 1949 was ugly too, now we have Macs with ergonomic curves Gaudi would drool over (So you hate Gaudi, how about Frank Lloyd Wright?) We’ve got designer cell –phones already to match your clothes even.

Melanie, we can program sound effects like page-turning if you but want it – and birds chirping and groaning for the sex scenes too. Reading can be a multi-media experience like we’ve never had before.

We’ve never had it so good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Water, water everywhere..

70% of the world's surface is covered with water, yet..

Southeastern US towns are now officially out of water - Orne, TN, for example.
The US SW especially Phoenix, is sucking eons old aquifers dry and when that deep, deep hole gurgles its last, people will be leaving Phoenix in droves. No water, no city.

They will truck it in, they will sell or distribute bottled water, which has to be trucked in, and that costs money. There is no big pipe they can use to transport water from say, Lake Mead to Phoenix. It doesn't exist. And this is in the world's richest country!

Southern Saharan states like Sudan - of which Darfur is a part - have been in a drought for decades, yet the overall population of Africa continues to rise. 900 million I heard today from the lips of Paul Martin the former PM of Canada.

Wars over water, oil, land, food - all over the world have their roots in poverty. When the poor get hungry or thirsty they get desperate and will become refugees or stand and fight. Fight or flight, it's what all animals do. Some governments prefer to sell them arms to fight their wars rather than sell them the technology to solve the problems. If the money spent of guns in north Africa from Somalia to Dakar had been spent on desalination plants say, nobody would be going thirsty. There would be irrigation. There would be food.

If Georgia and Tennessee had spent the money on water supplies they had spent on NASCAR and buying bigger trucks there would be no water shortage.

Still, water shortages and poverty are ultimately about population. Too many people fighting over finite resources. The problems will not stop until people stop making babies - and we all know how well that program is going to work, but if people don't stop reproducing at the rate that has produced 5 Billion people in 150 years, nature will do it for them.