Mark Hurych


This conversation is closed.

Anticipating that we are in the Anthropocene, How shall we proceed?

I am exploring the big question of how we shall proceed as a human family. I am attempting to allow this question to be explored and restated from as many different perspectives as possible. It is difficult to talk about the purpose without being overwhelmed with doom. I've found many individuals, as in the examples from TED talks, approaching these concerns from very different perspectives. I want to promote that open-ended open-mindedness with this question. Large scale and small scale. What can we do with our Internet? What can we do with our capacity to empathize? What can we do with our creative potential at making games out of things? What can we do politically? ...educationally? ....parenting? work? ...with neighbors? ...with humor? ...with paradigm shifts? ...mentoring and setting an example? ...?

Closing Statement from Mark Hurych

The final answer is that we need to go to square one, back to the drawing board. We need new ways of connecting and celebrating our solutions as we find them. Our tribes or "in" groups need to expand to include all humanity.

Extinction episodes do not look good for large species such as ours, so we need to take our motives to a place where we can engage in the greater good for the long long term.

Excellent isolated solutions continue to pop up. They need support and scaling up. We are threatening our own mother Earth. While our brains have enlarged (last 10,000 years) our thriving senses have shrunk, or been ignored. Crops, houses, and domesticated animals grounded us in security but also robbed us of the perspective of our own participation in nature.

We are of nature and we can and must harness our knowledge for the collective good of the biosphere.

Now let's get out there and win this one for the millennia to come!

"Physical fitness" is a wonderful term. What about loving fitness, eusociality fitness, relationship fitness, tribal upgrade fitness, innovative fitness, acceptance fitness, wisdom fitness, inspiring fitness, supportive fitness, cradle-to-cradle fitness, sustainability fitness...

...and on and on until we've got integrated planet fitness.

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    Mar 27 2012: Con te from Damanhur in northern Italy. If you have never heard of Damanhur, it is a spiritual eco-community. We have about 500 citizens and friends that live in the Valchiusella valley and about 1000 citizens worldwide.

    Living in community, I have come to believe that what we need to grow and evolve as a humanity is to work together on projects. Working together, becoming community, can take many forms. You may choose to live in community like I do, with 5 to 25 people living in houses and working on common goals. You may choose to become involved with a community project in your neighborhood. You may even create work and/or social projects. Whether you choose one or various projects, it is the working together that will help us evolve.

    When you work together you can do so much more than on just the individual level. That is not to say that individual growth and projects are not important, they are, but they should be balanced with things you do in community groups. When you work together with with a community focus, opening yourself up to new ideas and ways of thinking, you grow.

    If you want to know more about Damanhur, you can check out our website at
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      Mar 29 2012: Thank you so much for such a direct answer. Humanity needs to evolve to be more human, integrated for the thriving purpose of the whole and the future. Even the concept of community needs to evolve and spread.
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        Mar 29 2012: I sometimes wonder how we lost the concept of community. I guess it is a giant pendulum, where we once thought too much about the community and forgot the individual, and now we are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Communities like Damanhur, Tamera, Esalen, Findhorn, etc. are showing people that there is a balance to be found. There are also a number of individuals that have found ways to bring community projects into neighborhoods for people that like living on their own, but also want to partake in community building. It is a very exciting time because with the proliferation of social networks and internet communication, it is even more obvious that we are all connected in many ways.

        My hope is that people find and try the outreach programs, courses and communities out there... explore something different, often stretching outside of their comfort zone in order to build something that they may never have experienced before. At Damanhur, we are using every method we can to spread the word that community life exists at many levels. We do not necessarily want people to move here, nor do we think we have all the solutions, but we do want to share and exchange best practices so that every person finds the model that works best for him/her.

        Wonderful thread. TED is an important platform for spreading new (and sometimes old) ideas. Your question got me to move from being a spectator to a participant and for that I thank you!
    • Apr 6 2012: I lived in a sort of unintentional community here in the imperial valley for 7 years without missing a day. It's too much to go into detail at this moment because Slab City can't be easily understood. You might call it a dystopian intentional community that doesn't know whether it wants to ( or can) become a utopia
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        Apr 6 2012: Hi Kenny
        Thanks for dropping in. I think your insights about dystopia will help the global dystopian disconnect. Even American teens, so attached to social networking, forget we are on a sinking ship (USS Dystopia?) and even the sum of all of the 300 million Americans is only 5% of our global 7G (7 billion).
        • Apr 6 2012: At slab city this very minute on line at Frank's solar powered free internet cafe! There is no running water or electricity at all in slab city. Someone just donated 300 more watts to the cafe and so Frank intends on having refrigeration for the first time through the summer running a Dometic 3way fridge(12vdc, 110ac, propane). In the heat of a long Imperial valley summer it's the height of luxury. Everything here is built from salvaged materials and to the prejudiced eye appears to be nothing but a windblown pile of trash. It's dystopian in that it is not a "safe" place, and not just in the area of personal security. I don't mean to emphasize physical danger(but be careful if you come) it's that all your assumptions will be challenged.
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    Mar 31 2012: Joe Woodhouse, I'm trying the humorous sports coach/magician approach here...

    Pick a module, any module. Pick a solution, obvious or not, and present it. Let's go people! We haven't got the whole millennia you know. The biosphere's biological clock is ticking.

    "This interactive world we have is ours," said Ayah Bdeir of Media Labs while doing a demo of "Little Bits."

    Oh yeah? You call THAT a solution? [:-)
    Nothing up my sleeve. Watch me pull a solution out of my hat... (Nice talk, Marco Tempest)

    Why not apply that approach to the whole biosphere? Like cement blocks for the macro building world, Lego bricks or Little Bits for open-source design by non-specialists... ...why not permaculture modules? Why not genetic modules? Why not protein modules? Why not fish farm closed loop modules? Why not reforestation modules? Why not solar energy modules? ...liquid battery modules? grid connecting modules? ...nano modules? ...tribal stage 5 modules? source government modules? modules? ...massively collaborative game modules? ...spoken word inspirational poetry modules? ...networking collaboration modules? ...we-think modules?

    (James Greyson, am I not thinking big enough? Is there something I'm not seeing or maybe not even looking for?)

    There are so many different ways to go, to approach the big challenges, and to be constructive and useful. We seem to be getting better at innovation and somewhat better at awareness, but not so much better at things like policy and sharing and caring. Any and all of the ideas presented at TED and on blog after blog across the Internet.

    Physical access and financial access are both needed for the energy poor of the world. New financial models (modules? did he say modules?) and technology dissemination is what is needed. (Thanks, Daniel Schnitzer)

    Is anyone else as addicted to TED talks as I am? [:-)

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      Mar 31 2012: Mark, I enthusiastically support your insights! Every possible solution and every aware and concerned citizen on this planet needs to be mobilized and we need to communicate with each other. Keep up the great work!

      I think the role of sports coach/magician is an important one...
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    Mar 31 2012: Mark, Yes! I hear you. I have had a regular yoga practice for ten years and profound awareness of every aspect of the body, all the muscles, processes and breathing have been an essential foundation in developing a skill in modulating awareness.

    Have you read McGilchrist's, "The Master and the Emissary"? These insights speak to your question... Here is a TED talk that summarizes...
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      Mar 31 2012: McGilchrist's, "The Master and the Emissary" I have not read but I've seen his illustrated TED talk and thought about the right hemisphere as a realm of creative opportunity. Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor described from experience what the right hemisphere has to offer. Maybe we should ask our right hemispheres, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" as Regina Dugan asks.

      Now how do you speak to right hemispheres? "New Self, New World," a book by Philip Sheperd suggests that we all need to be in touch with our entire mind and that this mind is not contained within the left hemisphere. It's not even contained within the skull but literally includes our heart and guts and the spinal column. Perhaps your Yoga experience speaks to you this way and informs your mind and your wisdom.

      I'm almost ready to do my book report on the TED talks...
      Only I don't know anything. Well Socrates did OK getting people to think with that approach.

      Not only am I ignorant, I have no sense of what is going on right here and now.
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        Mar 31 2012: I will check out Philip Sheperd's book... Thank you!
      • Apr 6 2012: Homeless people are experimenting all the time in incredible ways. They have already "lost it all". We here so often the somewhat ridiculous idea that we shouldn't be afraid to fail. Just get back up and try again. It is said that great people have failed over and over but just kept on keeping on. Well, they kept on keeping on but at some point people CANT. Many of these people are homeless people. Conventional thinking has it that the homeless either never tried (lazy) or just "gave up". Maybe they just got smashed up. The fact is that daring things are risky and it's daring because to fail is dangerous. We punish failure harshly. Being homeless means exercising creativity at every moment. Fuck the dumb shit" is a homeless expression meaning forget the externals, others criticism,society's expectations,etc. and build the shelter, or find the food,or fix the car. As a society we can't demand risk taking, reward only those whose risks suceed and just toss away those whose risks turned out to be too expensive. It's a horrible waste of human capital.
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          Apr 6 2012: Too often we label and dismiss people as losers. Some of us would go so far as to label Hamlet or Oliver as losers. Our sincere honest observation should be about misfortune or tragedy. I think this disease of misperception is common, especially in the USA, where our cultural heritage is so much about being perpetual winners. 

          We need to be self-aware and heal ourselves in order to have global empathic civilization thrive. 
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    Mar 27 2012: Good point about being overwhelmed with doom since this would be the rational response to our situation! Being overwhelmed also seems to drive our rational responses, so we get two stage thinking. 1st shrink the problem until it feels manageable, then 2nd 'solve' the shrunken sub-problem. We've been doing this for 40 years and of course the actual problems do anything but shrink!

    Have made suggestions for paradigm change in my research for nato on global security,
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    Mar 26 2012: another question to do we live well when we are dying? since we are always dying, shorten to: how do we live well? my short answer: respect boundaries/limits, invite curiosity (thank you, James Greyson!) and practice unconditional love on all levels of relationship and organization
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      Mar 26 2012: Thank you, Megan. So true.
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    Apr 23 2012: We might hack our collaborative potential by looking at social adaptability. See "Social Conquest of Earth" or "Sex on Six Legs" which compare our social strengths with those of insects.

    We might use the same pragmatic short-cut approach for redesigning the entire parenting culture and educational system in or to incorporate sustainability in a rapidly changing world.
  • Apr 18 2012: The clerics tell us that Armaggedon
    Is where this earthly worlds ahead'n
    It seems that prophets (e)schatological,
    And fiery preachers rhetorical,
    And even mystics poetical,
    Must all be antithetical.
    Apparently all the blood and theft and war
    Burning homes and children dying out of doors
    Is going to be resolved at last-
    By more of the same, hot and fast!
  • Apr 17 2012: So there's a very simple statement of the problem:

    Nine billion people need to share the sustainable harvest of the earth in such a way they all get to live.

    So much wood, so much farmland, so much water, so much CO2 in the atmosphere. Estimates from Arup's Peter Head are that we're about 4x consumption in Europe and about 10x consumption in America, which means 75% or 90% drops in our resource consumption, or breakthrough new technologies which cut our resource use by at least this much, but allow us to continue to consume.

    This is a brutally clear take on the problem, and much is implied.

    As for what we should do?

    I suggest a tripartite strategy


    2) WORK LIKE HELL TO MAKE THE LIFESTYLE OF THE ALREADY-SUSTAINABLE PEASANT FARMERS _GOOD_ (see Paul Polak and the Kerala Model of Development for examples)

    3) GET REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT KINDS OF PROJECTS CAN SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS, AND WHAT'S JUST KILLING TIME. Neighbourhood veg gardens in major cities are cute hobbies, but they are not serious food security assets.

    So... not exactly cheerly, but far from grim. that's what I've got to say at the moment.
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      Apr 21 2012: Cheery nor grim, but spoken like a true "possibilist," as Hans Rosling would say.
      Thank you so much, Vinay Gupta. I will search for some of your terms to understand better.
  • Apr 16 2012: Can't resist giving you another poem from the same lot of ten years ago

    Illegal Lodgiing
    Illegal lodging, So they say
    Is what a bum does
    When he has no place to stay

    (It would be alright
    In a motorhome all shiny-brite,
    For a rich man to sleep wherever he might)

    But one who hasn't got the cash to pay
    Some landlord who hasn't found a way
    To collect a fat fire insurance Christmas day

    Will find himself in a dingy cell
    (just one step up from hell)
    Paid for him by someone who yells,
    He's costing us a fortune!
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      Apr 17 2012: Where's the chorus? We need something that repeats the Neo-Ludite phrase with a rhythm like
      bum badum bum bum, bum badum bum bum [for each line, or something like that]

      Go Kenny. [:-)
      • Apr 17 2012: Now that I have garage band I can put it to music.(when I figure it out!) I'll work on a chorus. I studied enough hymnology it's second nature. Fell free to use it how you want.(just give me credit!)
  • Apr 16 2012: Found some poetry I wrote ten years ago-it fits!
    Do you remember when old Bellamy
    Spoke a new date for you and me-

    An earth with neither slave nor hell?
    He got it wrong-we got Orwell!

    I think he was innocent in the telling
    But now we know- so why the Selling?
    The truth we sought is now a lie
    Forget the sky- I want my pie!

    Lease and riot in the buy and buy
    (I hope I get it all before I die)
    Looking back they had it right
    All hail the neo-luddite!
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      Apr 17 2012: Ha ha ha. Kenny, this is rich.
      I'm hearing a guitar or banjo strum in there somewhere. (Picking up my guitar now.) Your 4-line stanzas work the best, and I can almost get a piggy-back melody from John Denver's "Back Home Again."

      Dang it, Ken, I'm a teacher not a musician. Why are you doing this to me? I need some chords.

      OK. OK. I think I have a title... "Define Homeless, Mr. Anthropocene." I dunno. I'm just kickin it around.
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    Apr 12 2012: @ZenProverbs: "We know too much and feel too little." ~Bertrand Russell

    To arms! To arms! The challenges are coming!
    This is a call to action not military but toward Empathic Civilization.

    Is this not implied in the question? What is our human family to do?
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    Apr 11 2012: There is no political agenda here.
    My question is spiritual as well as technical.

    What are we capable of doing to provide resilient sustainability for mankind?
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    Apr 11 2012: Shift gears. Let's feel the love with statistics about the people we need to care about:
    the middle 3 billion. Anticipate the Anthropocene.

    Hans Rosling TED talk: on global population growth (posted July 2010) told us that IF AND ONLY IF we acquire and use green technologies to stop global warming, then we can expect to keep the middle 3 billion from worsening the climate change as they move up bicycle riders to ELECTRIC car riders. And population growth will stop for them in 2050 as they will generally have only 2 children per couple on average.

    The bottom billion, in order to progress from shoes to bicycles, with our help, will have slowed population growth and reached reasonably stable lives by 2050, but they will triple in number before doing so. And so if they have moved to a reasonably stable bicycle level, then we can expect that they to will slow population growth by choice since their infant mortality rate will have jumped up to healthier levels.
  • Apr 9 2012: I am reading Mark's intro from a background in engineering. This makes me doubtful of the helpfulness of the relativistic view that "very different perspectives" should have a dominant influence on our search for solutions. As Alfred Korzybski said, "We are all looking at the same universe, in the end we must agree". (In an archipelago the islands can be seen as different but looking deeper they are obviously part of the same land mass. For some purposes it is the underlying unity that really needs to be appreciated).

    I believe that the starting point has to be the correct context, and that is the evolutionary "story" (as far a modern consensus validates it) of our species. Our species has been "on stage", as a relative new comer, for about 3 million years and we have to appreciate the transformative nature of the major milestones and the relative time span taken to reach each them:
    Standing erect
    Controlling fire
    Switching from hunter/gathering to settled communities
    Industrial/scientific revolutions and the age of understanding matter

    This last milestone contains our test of survival worthiness: can we temper our capacity to acquire more and more knowledge of how things work with the necessary wisdom that stops us misusing it to a degree that eventually leads to our own demise?

    Another major context, in my understanding, is that there is a "war of world views" or "ideologies" that has evolutionary implications for our species (the occupy slogan "we are the 99%" is a pointer to this).
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      Apr 10 2012: Janos Abel
      The test of our humanity's survival worthiness may depend on our collective adaptive capacity to apply the resources of divergent cultures. The divergent cultural resources of our heritage should combine to focus on a united whole. I'll call it biosphere thrivability. Of course we must struggle together with a unified purpose, but I think it is particularly important to value the myriad root hairs that may draw strength to handle various global challenges. Some of us come equipped with deep insight to design engineering solutions. Some have infinite patience. Some sense tipping points where no one else was looking. Some care deeply. We need the resourcefulness of all. We need to have a higher purpose than our own present-tense gratification. 
      [az élet]
      For life. 
      Thank you so much, Janos, for participating here. köszönöm. 
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    Apr 9 2012: You raise an interesting question Mark, but I'd suggest we be careful accepting the Anthropocene as a done deal. First, we need to be clear that the Anthropocene is still an informal proposal for a new geologic time scale (likely an epoch). But for the sake of argument, let's assume the term does get picked up (which seems likely). Here the really important questions emerges--which Anthropocene are we talking about?

    I'm writing my dissertation on the Anthropocene, and I believe there are at least 3 distinct versions of the concept which are emerging as political frameworks from the original scientific idea, and each of them takes a very different view of the world described by the Anthropocene.

    One version could be called the Liberal Anthropocene, and it links the idea to a liberal political project that is explicitly pro-growth and development. It argues for a post-environmental politics grounded in support for high-tech, Western-style consumption and a belief in the power of markets and technology to address environmental problems.

    Another version could be called the Ecological Anthropocene, and it takes the idea and reads it as supporting a critique of industrial society, capitalism and unlimited growth. This version of the Anthropocene rejects the technological optimism of the liberal position, arguing instead that capitalism and industrial technology cannot address the underlying crisis because they are themselves its cause.

    A third version could be called the Dystopian Anthropocene, and it links the idea to a political deception advanced by radical environmentalists and activist scientists who want to impose a new world order under the guise of saving the planet. This third position is less coherent than the first two strands, but it unifies global warming skeptics, religious fundamentalists, right-wing pundits and conservative think-tanks around a common project of fighting environmental reform.

    So I'd ask, which Anthropocene are we discussing here?
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      Apr 11 2012: chris crews
      Rather than narrowing the search for solutions, my tendency is to want to broaden it. While that is my intent I may be about to put my foot in my mouth here.
      I always panic at the thought of taking a multiple choice test and i have no Anthropocene thesis statement, so I'd answer, "all of the above," maybe. Let's take L, E, and D as 1) 2) and 3)...
      1) Liberal Anthropocene is a go IF we apply the right technology in time and don't confuse "growth" with some kind of shopping spree with natural capital. "If" is a big word here, and "growth" would have to be updated way past any Adam Smith framework.
      2) Ecological Anthropocene looks like a free-for-all fight between capitalists and environmentalists, so it doesn't seem useful to apply here. I may be wrong. I mean industrial society by any interpretation probably needs to be criticized and re-evaluated from time to time. Here I pose a "what if" ploy to sneak in the answer. What if we closed the loop of industrial material so that it became completely recyclable? It would probably take someone from Brooklyn to pull that off, but it might be done.
      3) Dystopian Anthropocene already plays out on every movie scenario. How does it go? Apocalypse knocks out everybody except the hero, who somehow sees the whole thing as an exciting game. And that's great, as long as you happen to be the one-in-a-billion guy who survives.

      Bill Clinton passed out a book to his staff about non-zero sum scenarios. So here I am, probably failing the dang test, erasing all my answers and changing to "none of the above." If we can't include the idea of high tide raising all boats, count me out.

      We = Everybody

      How shall we proceed?
      • Apr 11 2012: Or someone from slab city to close the loop:). Having lived in two distinct dystopian communities(religious fundamentalism and anarcho-nihilism) I have to believe that nothing beats an ideology and ideologies are almost indestructible. As I sit here I am not optimistic except in the vaguely mystical sense of "well, I guess it will all work out somehow". With half the worlds population following religions that don't predict a good ending it seems futile to expect them to "get on board" with ANY proposal to improve things! "technology", the application of "science" , is relatively free of ideology, but science itself gets filtered through ideology and whatever doesn't fit is just thrown out. I need more time to consider the three futures, but like mark they seem too narrow. Very likely all three ( and more?) will occur at the same time for quite a while. These futures will as likely be distributed geographically. Why have an enormous military except to keep the others systems away?
        I don't like the title of "liberal" for the first option but since that is the path we appear to be on now, and because that is where the money and power is now it seems likely that it will be the dominant outlook unless some large force changes it. The ecological is opposed by the other two extremely powerful forces and so might be in the weakest position and the least likely to win out.
        It occurs to me that I've experienced the dystopian, the ecological, and I've been tending towards the "liberal". It might be a case of if you can't beat em, join em. There is no doubt that the L ( shouldn't it be more properly called the Technological?) is the big guy in the room. Im a self trained designer having read 10,000 books, a third of them technical. I have boxes and boxes of tools in the bus and I know how to use most of them.
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          Apr 11 2012: Kenny Danielson
          The time of people is the time of people. But time for what? [I'll botch a quote from Emerson here.] What is behind us and what is ahead of us is nothing compared to what is within us.

          Mark ;)
      • Apr 15 2012: How shall we proceed? First step I think is to look beyond our selves to real changes in the world. I tend to see the world using the lens of demography and improvements in communication technology as the independent variables. Memes emerge as pieces of extant culture are mashed up to find some that capture an emerging reality.

        What I see is the next inflection point in an evolving capitalism. This most recent arc of history could be dated from the 1960's as the children of the world war II vets came of age. "boomers" both white and people of color changed the world at speeds previously unimaginable. 1968 is probably a convenient date to anchor the change. In the States, the Nixon and then Reagan response was the counter trend. It's fair to say that with the recent meltdown of the Republican party and especially the elimination of Newt Gingrich, the era of bully boy politics based on the Southern Strategy has played it self out.

        For whatever its worth, I was intimately involved in the Student Movement that erupted in 1968. The more I watch the more convinced I am that 2012 is 1968 redux. The generation represented by Obama and the 40 -30 somethings that are now in policy making decisions - the children of the Boomers - have the tools and vision to make the next inflection point.

        I nice read to articulate a much more positive - albeit still very dangerous - view of what's next is Arrival City.

        The story he tells is mass migrations from rural to urban centers has been playing out for 5000 years. The good news is that Arrival Cities have always been a source of social mobility and urbanization leads naturally to lower birth rates and more sustainable living arrangements.
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          Apr 15 2012: Michael Josefowicz
          Welcome and thank you former printer with time for blah blah concerned about global literacy, thank you so much for participating here. after seeing your bio, I am curious about what other creative ideas you have. 

          We are observing the secondhand benefits of urbanization, with less waste and lower birth rate. Do you see the urbanization trend as an opportunity for a new economy of social capital?  Can you explain what social capital is and how it works?  What about global literacy? Do you see global literacy as a key factor for positive change? if yes, how so? 
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        Apr 15 2012: Some good questions here. These three positions may or may not be the most useful, and perhaps could have other names (a la Kenny D's comments above). Originally I was thinking about the Liberal Anthropocene as the Technological Optimism Anthropocene, but the probem with this is that really all three positions rely on technology, they just want it put to different ends. I think the most critical distinction has to do with the underlying worldviews (ontology and epistemology) of these positions.

        The Liberal variation is so-called precisely because it want to advance the classical project of Liberalism as transmitted through European intellectual history--Humanism, Scientific Positivism, Capitalism, Individualism and Secularism.

        The Dystopian vision is actually not the one that Mark outlines, but is perhaps closer to what Kenny D hints at. It is dystopian in the sense not of collapse but of global domination (1984ish). For those of the fundamentalist persuasion, as well as those leaning to the right wing--Alex Jones Illuminati/NWO version of libertarianism, the Anthropocene is the ultimate project for global domination and one world order under the guise of environmentalism and liberal science. When this is added to the Heartland Institute, global warming deniers, and the attack on science that has been going on over the last decade, that is the dystopian view of the Anthropocene I am describing. This position actually rejects the "doom and gloom" Hollywood view of The Day After Tomorrow apocalypse variety.

        But I think the even more fundamental problem is that without a material shift, an ideological shift, and I would argue a spiritual shift, nothing is likely to change on a big enough scale to really rethink our future in a different way. I'm an eternal optimist, but when I look at the politics coming out of the main threads of the Anthropocene, what I see is mostly denial, deception and more business as usual politics. For me, the challenge is how to avoid that
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          Apr 16 2012: Chris Crews, thanks for stopping by again.

          Of the three shifts, *material, *ideological, and *spiritual, I can't really place one over the other as highest priority without including the other two.

          I think I share with you the shrugged shoulders response about where we are likely to see the next best strep forward. I thoroughly agree that business as usual just will not work.

          My guess is that the best efforts are being made right now from the grassroots level. The web site and the book by the same name list dozens or even hundreds of small but very very positive steps being taken by communities all over the world.

          My take on their meaning goes like this:
          *Materiel change I think has to come in the form of zero carbon emissions or carbon neutral technologies. Clean means green.

          *Ideology to me means a shift toward on-the-ground organizations taking on challenges instead of the next candidate or the established institutions.

          *Spiritual growth in terms of applying the golden rule, or empathic community, or investing emotionally in things like gifting, paying-it-forward, or altruism.

          I think the best news is likely to come from individuals and ad-hoc organizations.

          I'm also encouraged by cultural exchange efforts such as the Silk Road tour of musical groups like Abigail Washburn's Sparrow Quartet.

        • Apr 16 2012: Got the jagged edge ground down so at least I can eat! Had to approach dangerously close to large urban population center however. (ha!) you have to experience the heavy hand of police surveillance to appreciate it. I don't mean to lay a heavy " you straight people don't know what it's like trip" but the "cops"(border patrol, local sherries, park rangers,etc) have a profile (prejudice) and if you fit it they just never lay off. It was rain turning to snow as I left the dentist so I set out for a site on BLM land about 5 miles away that I had camped on many times over 8 years ago. In less than 24 hours I was accosted 5 times by border patrol and was finally told it was OK to stay there! Of course it was OK it's a legal camping area. They also spotlighted me repeatedly all night. Why couldn't they just check the plates( thereby knowing me, my non record,etc) and go on their way? Did they really think I was going to load up illegals in a bright blue 33 ft school bus? I'd
          Love to live in a more urbanized area for a while to take advantage of the interactions but I can't take the harassment. Why isnt there some place for those of us on the road to go in the city without worrying about losing it all? Back to the desert for me.
  • Apr 9 2012: “Our Crisis is a Birth” Barbara Marx Hubbard (1970s)

    "Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the liveable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have…"

    Paul Gilding (The Earth is full") needs to make a leap of imagination and look to nature for a pattern that would expand the context of this question. Gilding recognizes that it is during a crisis situation that real creativity and determination comes to the fore. But we have to be sure that we understand the nature of the crisis and not misdiagnose it or ascribe it to something that is, in itself an effect of even deeper lying drivers.

    The answer to both questions is “yes” but “no”. After about three billion years of development, our species is like the chick ready to break out of the shell. Yes, it has “…used up all… resources”, yes, it has “…filled up all the liveable spaces*…” but there is another world—a world we can barely imagine—waiting for it.

    The least significant part of this other human world is that *physical growth is no longer necessary* (look what happened to photography or printing, communication, etc., etc.). Thirty years ago Buckminster Fuller proved ("Utopia or Oblivion", I think) that we need not mine for any more minerals with proper recycling and “doing more with less” in every cycle of about 20 years. He, by the way, also pointed out the insanity of having millions of “horses jumping up and down” while waiting for traffic lights to change.

    * This second question is quite different from the one about resources. All seven billion of us could physically relocate to Texas (1/13th of the US, 1/26th of N America, or France) with 100 square meter plot of private space per person. Incidentally, the most densely populated place is Macao with 54 sq meter of space per person.

    All this is not to argue that we do not need radically different ways of “making a livng”, only that we need accurate analysis of problems and their "ideological" (possibly most causative) drivers.
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      Apr 11 2012: Janos Abel
      Whether we are talking about feeding the planet or sharing resources or simply surviving as a species, however we perceive the global challenges that are in our future, we now have a hand in making changes that will affect the planet forever.

      Science may very well be the midwife we need to ensure the healthy birth of this new age, whatever it is to become.

      The earth is not full of people. But nobody is chaperoning the humanity party, and we are rowdy rock stars in expensive hotel suites essentially ruining the place for anyone else. The hotel suites aren't full, really, they're used. Sure we could behave better and fold out napkins and all, but we're still mostly rowdy types, especially the way we become addicted to growth and raising our standard of living.

      The few people who make tons of money from rowdiness hold fast to the reigns of power and influence.

      Ay, there's the ideological rub.

      BTW Land use and water use is growing. I mean even the International Space Station view of our planet is looking "used."


  • Apr 8 2012: Learning along with everyone else. I agree, empathy is the key. Of course, the hard part is to bring it about. In a zero sum society, your loss is my gain. In an abundance society without empathy it's, " wow, there's a lot of stuff, I'm going to get as much of the surplus as possible for me". The "tragedy of the commons" goes hyper wave. The circular argument that I got what I got because I worked hard and deserve it and they haven't got because they didn't is extremely difficult to crack. "why should I help other people when they'll just suck it up and beg for more?" likewise, the belief that the world is going to hell stimulates many people to be MORE selfish because people are afraid and want to pack rat away their emergency stockpile. Fear is a big component of a lack of empathy. Unfortunately, many of our institutions use fear to reinforce themselves, to bind their members to their grouping. Reduce fear and empathy might increase.
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      Apr 10 2012: Kenny Danielson
      Let's test a thought experiment in both directions: 1) Reducing fear leads to more empathic relationships between humans. I'm thinking stronger bonds improve relationships among members of a synergistic integrated global community. So why not equally apply the reverse?  It may take a leap of imagination. Now let's suppose 2) risking more empathic relationships reduces fear. If both hold true then we have a positive feedback loop which may lead to a positive tipping point.  Humanity would become self-integrating and self-perpetuating. 
      • Apr 11 2012: I suppose thats what most religions and philosophies have proposed. I like the saying, "be the change you wish to see". I don't know if "tough love" is the same!
      • Apr 11 2012: Just broke a tooth so ill get back to you;(
  • Apr 6 2012: NO longer at Frank's am "partying" with friends both known and unkown. Beautiful buut full of suffering. Contentment with distress, love withh fear, tragedy with hope, the birth pangs of discovery. If you.
    Want numb play a game or work overtime. Lotta broken people trying to figure it out. I love them. What can be done for them?
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      Apr 7 2012: I ask the same question all the time. I'm thinking of the large scale now, but I could use the same words to describe lots of it. Economic and food distributions systems are broken and the people are beautiful but full of suffering. To put the numbers in perspective, their are 5% Americans in the world population. Poverty here is often used to describe people that still own cars and have access to water and abundant food. About a billion people function with less than a dollar a day and less than a gallon and a half of potable water for cooking washing drinking and general use. About a handful of rice is what feeds the majority of children on a daily basis.

      Still, most of them are figuring it out by moving into urban areas, usually with benefits gradually increasing.

      Now the biosphere, or all life on the planet, is going through a systematic breakdown mostly because people have been too concerned with "how much" rather than "how" when providing for themselves.

      I think "Worldchanging" by Alex Steffen is probably the best example of groups of people doing very good things with farming, designing, community, economies, energy use, and thrivability. The problem is, as good as their solutions are, they are invisible, probably like your friends in Slab City. The big groups of people don't see them and don't understand why their methods are extremely important.

      What can be done? I don't really know, but I'm trying things and asking questions. When something works, let others know.

  • Apr 5 2012: I studied "at the knees" of one oof the most dangerous and influential "thinkers" of our time. TIm LaHaye, author of the "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic novels. He has instilled in millions of people the idea that the future of the world doesnt matter because god is going to destroy it all anyway! Species dont matter, pollution doesnt matter, even human suffering doesnt matter, slavery doesnt matter because the deux et maquina (sic) will straighten it all out. This has become a vague feeling within people, even for those who dont know why. He is living quite comfortably in rancho mirage and is probably alittle confused about where jesus could be. At least he is wealthy. As long as people believe in the inevitability of destruction they will oppose change. In fact they consider any attempt at improvement as satanic! It wouldnt matter SO much if they sat on the sidelines but they want to actively prevent change because they think disaster is necessary.
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    Apr 4 2012: For life.
    für das Leben
    elämää varten
    من أجل الحياة
    פֿאַר לעבן
    pro život
    pe viaţă
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    Apr 2 2012: What qualities...? Good question here...
    What makes a more integrated whole?

    Here's something: "Tribal Leadership"

    It's not enough to simply write people off.
    -Dave Logan on Stage 1 tribes, the culture of prisons and gangs. (Stage 1 tribal culture = "Life sucks.")

    It's to Stage 3 that many of us move and we park and we stay. -DL

    Here's the greatest challenge we face in innovation. It's moving from Stage 3 to Stage 4. -DL

    (Stage 3 culture = I'm great [and you're not]. Stage 4 culture = We're great ...

    When individuals come together and find something that's greater than their individual competence, something very important happens. It becomes a tribe that's aware of its own existence. -DL paraphrase.

    Here he hits his finest presentation objective, (personally I think better than his book) his point that Stage 5 tribes not only identify themselves as a tribe with a powerful culture, they are a force that accomplishes historic feats.

    We need to build to Stage 5 (life is great) and that only happens as Dave counterintuitively points out, when we talk ALL stage cultures and nudge people of our tribes from their stage to the next because people only hear one level above or below their own tribal stage.

    *Life sucks*, as in the movie "The Road." We're sorta there. (1)
    *My life sucks*, because I can't design solar energy. (2)
    *I'm great* at blogging and tweeting about global challenges. (3)
    *We're great* at TED conversations since we have ideas worth spreading. (4)
    *Life is great* because happiness is at hand, abundance is a matter of collective choice, and thrivability through the Anthropocene is something we can accomplish together. (5)

    Who's with me? [:-) (5)
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      Apr 3 2012: Mark, I am with you... now all we need to do is convince all the other people on the planet. There is a real task for you!
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    Apr 2 2012: Joe, thanks so much for this comment. I'm working on an answer.

    Joe Woodhouse said earlier:
    Given the possibility of deep healing which would come from a collective application of the boat metaphor on the whole planet, why do humans continue to stumble down a dark path to self-destruction? If there are certain qualities of human awareness that make us trend in a self-destructive manner and mostly operating unconsciously, how could we identify those qualities and then through the careful work of a present centered focused attention, balance the various human capacities into a more integrated whole?
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    Apr 1 2012: A dear friend often admonishes youngsters with a catchy saying: Don't be a hater.

    It's a healthy reminder of how we need to respect each other and get along.

    But maybe it's OK to "be a hater" non-violently with respect to some of the inanimate "enemies" of our thrivability. I hate cancer. I hate hunger. I hate mass extinction. I hate my ignorance. I hate my apathy. I even hate my addictions to destructive behavior.

    Now I want to draw on my inner two-year-old. "Why" is a strong tool. Why do I think it's ok to throw away stuff? Why do I want to zip around? Why don't I care that big food fish are going bye-bye? Why don't I just love people? Why do I get bored? Hmmm. Re Northern Pacific Gyre: Why can't I learn to flush?
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    Apr 1 2012: Joe, I would appreciate any insights you have about improving human awareness. What is the nature of the dysfunction? Would you agree that our capacity for empathy is key? It seems we need both to understand and to care. We need to care about future generations. We have a hard time caring about next door neighbors and the future of our own retirement, so caring about a whole planet, and caring so deeply that we project the consequences of our actions for centuries... It's not easy for human minds or human hearts.

    Metaphors help, I think. I love the boat we are in, my home planet. I'm afraid we are all in the same boat. It's not the math of how the boat is rocking, but the idea that we need to behave differently because if the boat tips, we are all doomed. Once the boat tips, it may be too late to do anything about it.
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    Mar 31 2012: Tribal Leadership is a good concept for building strong relationships and for sharing awareness. However, it doesn't go far enough unless we learn to speak all five stages and always strive for stage five. You will recognize the stages by the language themes that run through each. Ready?
    Stage one = life sucks
    Stage two = my life sucks (an improvement from destructive to merely sad)
    Stage three = I'm great (not you, just me)
    Stage four = we're great (we can win against THOSE losers)
    Stage five = life is great (we hate hunger and disease, not people)
    • Apr 6 2012: The book"On Becoming a Person" by psychologist (I can't remember his name!) goes into this idea in a beautiful way. Carl Rogers! Check him out. I think I have an analog copy in one of crates somewhere.
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    Mar 30 2012: Mark, I love your question and all the following commentary. My passion has been understanding human awareness and its dysfunctions at this time of global predicament. There are powerful insights coming from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and many other sciences that illuminate the question of human awareness and its dysfunctions.

    The question is, "If humanity cannot see its situation as it is, if awareness is clouded by false belief and totalitarian ideologies, how can we possibly solve these daunting problems that confront us?

    I have planted this seed on the WEB...
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      Mar 31 2012: "We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are"

      I don't know about our awareness being clouded, just misfocused, we focus on certain things and not others. We see the world through who we are, if we artists, for instance, we see art in everything, is it worth painting? If we are scientists, we just ask, why? how come? Everything is an experiment.

      I think the question is; how can we see the situation as we are not?
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        Mar 31 2012: Racheal, The old story of the blind men and the elephant comes to mind... if we had a collective of aware people, all of whom knew that, "We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are" ...we could help each other develop a flexible, embodied, present centered big picture awareness that more accurately harmonized with the world as it really is, not how we want it to be.

        Since we would know that all we ever experience is a simulation of the world created in our brain, we would be wary of any totalitarian or absolute belief system since, by definition and according to everything we have learned from neuroscience, it would be flawed in some way. What we need is awareness that more and more accurately harmonizes with the Universe as it is...

        Learning to develop a skill in modulating awareness would involve being able to move within the consciousness phenomenological state space with ease.
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          Mar 31 2012: Hi Joe, do you remember when I told you the other day about my naturalist friend Jim Conrad ?
          Here is an excerpt from his latest newsletter, which for me is almost like a metaphor as how people can live on the same planet, yet in different worlds.
          Just see how Jim's perception and awareness differs from that of most people. It seems he sees the world in a much higher resolution than most.

          On our first day of spring it was 100° (38°C) in the shade. I sat in a quiet place thinking how, except for the heat, it was very like early autumn up North:
          Breezy, very dry and dusty, and leaves falling because of the advancing dry season.

          "A hand-size flake of papery, peeling-off bark of Gumbo-Limbo tree had fallen onto the ground; a blade of grass propped it vertically so that sunlight shined through it, causing it to glow in an abstraction of warm yellows and russets. On the other side of the bark-flake stood the spent, dried-up remains of a little Callisia wildflower. The Callisia cast a shadow on the bark that on my side created a graceful silhouette.

          You can see this, and maybe feel some of what I felt, at"
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        Mar 31 2012: And, Rachael Kelm, is it worth focussing so much of our energy now on being good ancestors for the centuries to come? "...the universe we each know is but a reflection of our own selves" (R.D. Laing)

        And yes, Joe Woodhouse, we may be blind men trying to describe the elephant of the Anthropocene.

        Understandably so, as the elephant is largely invisible and changes o so slowly. We have to force our imagination to comprehend the momentum behind current change, so it seems to me helpful that people are taking poetic license and using metaphor in order to incorporate huge invisible forces into their own awareness.

        Whatever means we have to strengthen and broaden our network of collaboration, for the greater good, for the greater number, AND for the greater future beyond, must be welcomed.

        Our shared truth and our shared reconciliation, as with the stage 5 tribe of collaborators who dismantled apartheid and rebuilt a community together, must be nurtured.

        For Life!
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        Mar 31 2012: Wait. You said, "I think the question is; how can we see the situation as we are not?" And you are a nutrient recycler? Do you know how important that is? Cradle to cradle designs and closed loops in industry as well as agriculture...

        How can we see the situation as we are not??? You probably know what happens when you add a needed element to a bio system like an algae eater fish to a fish tank or duckweed to absorb nutrients in a swamp or estuary. Look up "ocean dead zones" on wiki and think what nutrient recycling would do for that! That's who you are and I thank you for it. You you nutrient recycler you. [:-)
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        Mar 31 2012: Harald, The posting from Jim Conrad just blew me away... that kind of deep, intuitive resonance with the natural world is an extremely important part of developing a skill in modulating awareness. From McGilchrist's point of view, that would be accessing and bringing into awareness the capacities of the right cerebral hemisphere.

        You are lucky to have Jim as a friend... I wish I could hang out with you two...

        P.S. On our evening news with NBC, they finally mentioned that the current unusual weather is likely related to AGW... I guess a new U.N. report is due out... be interesting to see how the denialists attack and refute this.
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          Apr 1 2012: Hi Joe, can you imagine how our world would look like if everybody would see the world through eyes like Jim's ? Although I don't think one needs to live in a hut in the middle of the Yucatan jungle for that.
          Anyway, feel free to write Jim through his site and say I'm sending you. He is pretty responsive.
          About AGW, I keep wondering how anybody can still deny this obvious reality. What is not clear however, is what short, mid and long term implications this climate change will have. I think nature is just too complex to properly model it.
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        Apr 1 2012: Harald, That unpredictability of all the implications over time is the real mark of nonlinear systems... the "strange attractor" can jump to a new state space almost without warning and basically, I think it has already happened. The basic climate flow patterns that have been around for the last ten thousand years, for the most part with a few exceptions, have permanently changed to something else and the conditions will be more harsh, for sure, on average globally. It is a process that has started and cannot be reversed. Who knows where it will take us though I do think, it would be worthwhile to keep CO2 levels to 350ppm as per McKibben... I think it is already close to 400... so that is probably wishful thinking.

        Thanks for the introduction to Jim... I am going to follow along on his website for a while and when I sense it is time, will probably contact him. I will tell him that Harald sent me.
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      Mar 31 2012: Hi Joe
      Let's be careful on the ark. The seas are rough and apathy storms are approaching.

      In order to reverse the dysfunctionality of awareness, I think we need to open our sense of bodily awareness including gut from pelvic girdle to heart. I think our gut has a sense of wisdom about what is balanced and what is not quite right. That wisdom doesn't have words but has its own sense of truth and can tell when things are ok and when they're not.

      Our hearts are as much a part our mind as our cerebrum. We've forgotten how to think with our hearts and to think rightly and true. But the very idea that you know what I'm talking about means we haven't forgotten completely.
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      Apr 1 2012: Joe, would love for you to consider bringing your work to The Global Summit London 2012 and also invite a conversation about profiling your work on in our Creative Witness response area. We can offer link to and from your website when it's time. Learn more about our web project here: Thank you!!!
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        Apr 1 2012: Megan, Thank you for the kind words and thank you for the invite. I have briefly checked out Global Summit London 2012 and Extinction and I am impressed. I plan to spend some time with these sites and follow their development. You have my enthusiastic support. The 6th great mass extinction is one of the most important yet unrecognized tragedies of our age... I have heard E.O. Wilson speak, in person, about it and have read extensively in this area. With this extinction event, we are seeing massive irreparable damage to the habitability of the biosphere and it is happening more quickly than any mass extinction event in the past including the asteroid impact that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

        You are freely welcome to use any of the images at Ark of Awareness as you please...more images are in the works but I think images or art that can enhance awareness of the 6th great mass extinction would be powerful and possibly useful. I will be seeing if an inspiration arises from the deeper wells...

        You can contact me personally at
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      Apr 1 2012: Joe, I would appreciate any insights you have about improving human awareness. What is the nature of the dysfunction? Would you agree that our capacity for empathy is key? It seems we need both to understand and to care. We need to care about future generations. We have a hard time caring about next door neighbors and the future of our own retirement, so caring about a whole planet, and caring so deeply that we project the consequences of our actions for centuries... It's not easy for human minds or human hearts.

      Metaphors help, I think. I love the boat we are in, my home planet. I'm afraid we are all in the same boat. It's not the math of how the boat is rocking, but the idea that we need to behave differently because if the boat tips, we are all doomed. Once the boat tips, it may be too late to do anything about it.
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        Apr 1 2012: Mark, I really like your questions and also think you have a number of deep insights as you answer those questions. I can resonate with what you are saying.

        Given the possibility of deep healing which would come from a collective application of the boat metaphor on the whole planet, why do humans continue to stumble down a dark path to self-destruction? If there are certain qualities of human awareness that make us trend in a self-destructive manner and mostly operating unconsciously, how could we identify those qualities and then through the careful work of a present centered focused attention, balance the various human capacities into a more integrated whole?
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          Apr 2 2012: What qualities...? Good question here...
          What makes a more integrated whole?
          Epic importance. Really.

          Short answer: Clay Shirky and Jeremy Rifkin and Charles Leadbeater and Dave Logan's talk (not his book so much) get together and have a baby. Ew. No, scratch that. I mean (where'd that dang metaphor go???) you mix their essential ingredients together...

          I'm gonna think a bit. Be back later.
    • Apr 6 2012: I agree with that statement of the problem. It is certainly NOT primarily a problem of technology, after all "the whole earth catalog appeared about 40years ago! Education certainly is primary. I was trapped deep within a fundamentalist system when the catalog came my way at age 14 and yet it wasn't until age23 that my worldview finally changed. And that was after graduating from Bob Jones Univ! Even then it was an outside catastrophe that made it possible. How can people who don't know they don't know become aware and beyond that, take action? Or is it simply that the majority will follow where others lead? But the leaders of the unknowers won't change and if they do, their rigid institutions will simply expel them and promote others.
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    Mar 30 2012: 2 Anthropocene issues
    There are two issues to address here. On one side is the issue of resources. The other issue is biodiversity.

    So even if we design our technologies to do more with less, even if we eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, we still have to deal with the challenge of the loss of biodiversity. We are in a mass extinction episode. Measuring and predicting the effects of extinction are even more difficult than predicting the effects of the rise of CO2.  

    So in large measure the question is about what is our species to do in order to avoid our own imminent extinction as members of this deteriorating biosphere. 

    Michelle Holliday said:
    So that's the pattern: mix together
    (1) divergent parts,
    (2) convergent wholeness,
    (3) dynamic relationships, and then let life do its
    (4) self-integrative thing.
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    Mar 28 2012: Grow ambitions. I really like that phrase. Sounds green. More. More meme catalysts. (thinking) 
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    Mar 26 2012: As the world expands (I guess I'm talking faster and more convenient connections) it's going to come down even more to individual and personal relationships.

    Saving the world can't be achieved on a large scale because you're unlikely to have everyone believing the same thing (not talking about religion here) all at the same time.

    I think that real change will come as it always has - wisdom passed from one generation to the next. This is something that modern society does not do particularly well.

    As wisdom comes from experience, it's not something that can be gained from a google search, although it might through a conversation thread or something similar.

    Personally, I feel the changing of the guard - there is a real problem in education at the moment. The bureaucrats just want to keep ticking (irrelevant) boxes and derive a model to be used whether it is effective or not. It is no longer acceptable to listen to a politician just because of their station.

    The other is the private sector struggling to lock down information and the internet for the purpose of profit-making. These fools (as we saw a few years back in the music industry) really have no idea how to cope other than citing laws and making criminals out of people who have had enough of paying the owners of the infrastructure, especially when most of the profits go to the few rather than the many.

    Having said that, I have great faith in humanity and our future..
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      Mar 27 2012: Intriguing line you used,Scot,
      about a conversation thread or something similar. When they first appeared, each of our major Internet arenas were Pandora's boxes. We didn't really know how we would use them until we started using them. I think you hit on something.

      Maybe the "We Think" concept fits (a la Charles Leadbeater). I don't know. People like Alex Steffen should be cloned/xeroxed the way that Al Gore's and his Inconvenient Truth were cloned/xeroxed.

      We may be crazy, to have such great faith, and we may be crazy not to. I asked in a TED conversation I had earlier how to create a meme that addresses these global challenges. Maybe the right question, or one of the right questions, is how do we generate tribes and networks of tribes that have and can use that same kind of faith for good.

      To paraphrase one of the wicked witches: These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell.

      There are some jaw-dropping heroes out there like @UrbanFarmGuy. Actually a bunch of guys who are creating a renaissance in an urban not-so-very-nice place.

      So I'm thinking tribes. Networks of tribes. Stage five über tribes. With people that feel with their gut and think with their heart and tap every neuron for all it's worth.
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    Mar 26 2012: Perhaps we are doing a poorer job of teaching environmental responsibility. The millennial generation may be the least motivated to take on global challenges.
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    Mar 26 2012: I say we just keep going... That way in ten million years a little boy will be digging up fossils with his dad it would go something like this:
    Boy "Dad I found one! I found one!...What is it daddy?
    Dad" Ohh let me see here..well son that looks like a brachio-I-Pod... Its from the anthropocene era ten million years ago."
    Boy "Cool! How can you tell?
    "Dad " well look where you were digging a layer of plastic. Thats all thats left of that era.
    Boy " Neato!
    Dad " Come on son lets dig more here,... those things were usually found attached to the ears of anthropocene teenagers!"
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      Mar 26 2012: I'm confused by your "just keep going" idea. We may not make it past the next few centuries, much less ten million years. How do humans survive the sixth extinction by just keeping to the same behaviors? The image of our future end is depicted well in The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

      See review/description at

      Of course that's just one of many possibilities, but the point is we need to change behaviors in order to ensure our future safety. Perhaps it is too cruel of me to ask that people imagine the worst scenarios, but this exercise seems to be necessary for a serious reconsideration of our future.

      How shall we proceed? Please address the question. Anyone?
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        Mar 26 2012: I was going for the humor approach...that you stated.
        Why?.. because honestly I believe the problem has reached such a proportion, and is snowballing so rapidly that, like "The Road" enough of us are not going to make the changes needed until we are forced to.
        And Even those of us who cry out for change because we see the damage we are doing to our environment...still drive our SUVs to the rally and down four or five plastic bottles of herbal tea.

        If there is an answer I believe it will be born of necessity like most answers are.
        ...Maybe there is some hope in technology to produce more Eco-friendly ways of doing things that will still make the right people rich and be cost-effective enough for those of us who really really want a change, but aren't willing to pay for it, use it.
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          Mar 26 2012: James Howells,
          I guess I take myself too seriously. Thank you. David Letterman did a similar punch line approach after interviewing James Hansen. He suggested that the title should be "We're Screwed." 

          I really should have caught on with "a layer of plastic."

          Bdm bmm. 
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    Mar 26 2012: I am encouraged by people and groups I find on Twitter and Google searches from TED talks and related topics. I am currently reading Abundance by Peter Diamandis and New Self, New World by Philip Sheperd. Both of these books were recommended and mentioned on TED. There are many ways that technology may find solutions where there are none now.

    My concern is that we are not universally aware of the danger we are in and we are not working closely enough together to address global challenges.

    I respect the people that attempt to address global challenges through political channels. Bucky Fuller used to call the governments of the world the "150 blood clots" because they tend to prevent progress rather than promote it. I like the tribal leadership ideas, especially at the fifth or highest stage, as explained by David Logan.

    Jeremy Rifkin makes an excellent case for the need of Empathy in his book Empathic Civilization. It might be that just spreading a caring feeling is the best we can do as individuals.

    Sir Ken Robinson has made his points about a human resource crisis, as we need more creativity promoted in school. I see environmental and educational revolutions as supporting each other.

    Our humanity and our planet need help and we earthlings are the ones to do something.