The Three Criteria

17 MAIN VIEW

imgkid.com

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is not built around a specific programme which we slavishly believe should be implemented. Rather, our Design is intended to be broken and transformed during its progress, so it would adapt and form around the experiences we learn during its growth. When the Design is implemented, we will likely see it evolve around differing needs and conditions, locally and regionally, and would thus likely see regional adaptions, and would likely forever evolve, though the pace of evolution might differ between periods.

Likewise, we who are going to implement the experiments in sustainable ways to measure resources, flows and consumption patterns would also grow and learn during this process. In this way, being a part of the EOS is very much alike being a gardener.

However, there need to be criteria that should be fulfilled. The important thing is not how a system is working, but that it achieves the minimum goals that it strives towards. What is at stake is our beautiful planet, and sustainability is not only about cutting back, but also to find a way within which future generations can thrive inside a flourishing biosphere.

Our mission

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Our mission is to find models within which we can create sustainable conditions for life on Earth. This means that we must ensure both ecological sustainability, and the future well-being of the human species on Earth. This all derives from a bio-centric view where Life is seen as the most valuable and dignified thing in the Cosmos. As a sapient species, with the ability to create culture, art and civilization, we have a duty, and that duty is to create conditions in which Life can blossom and reach its potential.

To be an EOS member should not only be to possess a card showing that you have paid a membership fee. It also signifies that you are an individual who by your will have taken up this mission – the mission to protect Life on Earth. There are no easy ways however, and even if everyone shared that sense of devotion to life on Earth, we would face stark challenges which would make us grow and learn as human beings.

But what we need as well are concrete, practical criteria which we could make our judgements from. I would not so much write about ideology and values in this post as about some minimum criteria for a sustainable civilization on Earth.

1: Understanding the Earth

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In this era, we will soon be nine billion individuals on this Earth. We have transformed the larger part of the Earth’s land surface to suit our needs. Our current socio-economic system, built on maximising economic growth as fast as possible, has devastated the biosphere, and we are right now in the beginning phase of what can be termed a mass extinction.

What needs to be known is of course how much, where, and how.

There needs to be a much better oversight over how much resources we are using, how much resources we can use, how to optimize the use of the resources. We also need to monitor eco-systems in real-time, so we can respond to disturbances quicker than today and with more knowledge of the situation locally. We need to understand where resources are harvested, and where they are going, and where they could return to nature again.

If there is limited data gathering in a situation like today (and for the foreseeable future given how much we have wrecked), there is higher likelihood that we will do wrong and accidentally wreck the ecological progress we want to support.

This knowledge needs to be transparent and available for everyone, a living library of the Earth, accessible through every media, open to reevaluation. It would become the basis for a common, unified understanding of the Earth for ecologists, biologists, agronomists, economists and human beings from all over the planet.

We need a basis for a common worldview, and this worldview must be rooted in our physical reality.

Some may interject that we did not need this before the industrial age and that it is sufficient if everyone strives to be sustainable. The problem with this is that we have 9 billion people on this planet soon, and they all should be given the basis for being able to thrive on Earth. They need energy, utilities, housing, education, healthcare, recreation and community participation, as well as private space. That guarantees that we would need to use the resources of the Earth – and that implies that we need wise stewardship of the planet.

2: A circular economy

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It is not enough to monitor resource flows, but a constant process to reduce resource pressure. Also, infrastructure would need to be redesigned to be adapted to optimal usage, upcycling, recycling and downcycling. This would reflect itself in changed production patterns, transformative usage of utilities, more local and regional production  (thus less need for transportation) and lastly – and most controversially – a redirection of the priorities of the economy.

In terms of production patterns, we should look towards producing things that are durable, modular and upgradeable, which would lengthen the life-cycle of products and reduce their ecological impact per unit. We should also look towards using space more effectively in production, for example in that different groups could use the same factory installment to produce different things during different hours of the daily cycle. This would reduce the amount of bottlenecks. This would also imply more open source (which I will expand on in a future post).

In terms of food production, we must strive towards diversifying production and ensuring food sovereignty as far as possible to every region. We need to reduce land usage, by reducing our dependency on animalic foods. We need to opt for a wiser usage of fresh water, a resource becoming increasingly scarce. We also need to grow more in cities and in vertical farms, and to transition from highly destructive mono-cultures as soon as possible.

In terms of utilities, we need to reduce our reliance on roads, parking spots and using space, by increasing reliance on designing societies where people can walk or bicycle, and where public transit is available for everyone. We also need to improve the sewage systems and design them with the thought of making human waste a valuable addition to the production of food, rather than something which should be flushed down into the sea (contributing to the strangulation of marine lfe).

And lastly, we need to reduce consumerism, or altogether replace this culture with a culture which accentuates other values. This is a process that must grow from the inside of human beings, and which must blossom through communities in a voluntary and participatory manner. However, a movement towards this can be helped by removing or reducing the amount of commercialised information in public space – information intended to make people maximise their consumption.

EOS wants to move a step further, and would like for things to only be produced when people actively are asking for them.

3: A socially sustainable civilization

joy_of_being_a_human_by_praveenchettri-d2sbi4z

For a depressing majority of the Earth’s population, life is about survival. Human beings are degraded, over-worked, outcrowded and forced out of their own lives into situations where their natural creativity and curiousity are unable to blossom. For billions of people, living on Earth is a horrible struggle against hunger and privations, and this condition is not only inflicted on those who suffer through it, but on their children as well.

By creating a world based around the needs of exponential growth, we have created a world where life – including human life – is primarily seen as an engine for this growth to continue.

While the moralistic imperative that everyone should be equal in terms of material wealth can be rightfully questioned from many angles, there are many people on this Earth which seem to have been deprived from their right to food, to fresh water, to education, to healthcare, to clothes on their body and roofs over their heads.

A sustainable civilization needs to provide an income floor, on which all human beings should be able to stand. That does not imply that everyone should be equal, but there should be a minimum standard under which no human being should sink. No one – especially not a child – deserves to be starving, homeless, illiterate or denied access to healthcare.

Ultimately, life should be an opportunity for every human being to grow and to reach their own highest potential, not something which they are forced to endure by artificial lack of resources.

Human beings deserve to live, and life should be more than mere existence.

This also means that all mature human beings have the right to form their own values and opinions, to organise peacefully and to be free from religious, sexual, racial or political persecution, and to be able to participate both in their communities and in the human civilization as a whole in a manner which gives them considerable influence over their communities and control over their own lives.

As we learn how to use resources more wisely, and as new technologies are implemented, all human beings should be able to partake in the progress, because civilization is our common heritage, not the property of an elite.

Summary

nasa.gov

nasa.gov

The three criteria can basically be summarized as:

1: A continuous survey of the Earth

2: A circular economy using resources within the Earth’s limits

3: A universal basic income

If we have achieved these criteria, we would have reached a form of sustainability. Of course, there is also a fourth criterion, and that is to achieve the above-mentioned three in a manner which reflects the values of the society we want to create. We must use ethically sustainable methodologies grounded in values that respect and uphold Life during the transition process towards a sustainable future.

We are living during the most awesome era in human history, and have been given the opportunity to prove that we are a truly intelligent and sapient species.

Now all we have to do is to organise and save the planet! So what are we waiting for?

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On Space

nasa.gov

nasa.gov

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

I’ll admit it. I love space.

Partially, I guess my mother is to blame. When I was a child, she used to tell me Star Wars, Terminator, A Space Odyssey and Alien as stories. Soon, I had been hooked on Star Wars (though my greatest love before age nine was dinosaurs). I still do love space, and as soon as there is a live sending of the landing on a planetary body or any other celestial object, I must see the press conference, and will follow the research data as it pops in.

When I need to relax, I use to put on ambient music and explore a brilliant programme called Space Engine. I love to slowly traverse the stars, watching how they swirl around majestically like magic snowflakes in romantic renderings of blizzards.

The thought of all the billions of worlds out there, worlds with awe-inspiring landscapes, exotic environments, life and creatures that exist, breathe, see and sense their world. Civilizations beyond the stars, gazing up to their skies and wondering from where they came… it’s a thought that is deeply humbling.

Yet, I would use this post here to criticise the notion that the immediate short-term solution to our problems on Earth is to be found out there.

It is not.

The allure of Mars

MarsTransitionV

“Fuck Earth” ~ Elon Musk.

At the dawn of the 21st century, actors in both the west and the east take a great interest in the Red Planet, which for a long time has pre-occupied the minds of astronomers, xeno-biologists, sci-fi authors and conspiracy theorists alike. Mars One sought to establish a human colony on Mars by the 2020’s, but the project has all but fallen apart. Despite this, interest remains very high, and Elon Musk has built his goals around helping to establish a Mars colony.

According to Musk, we need to spread humanity through the solar system and the Milky Way, to guarantee our long-term survival. According to him, our top priority should be to place one million humans on Mars.

I am in agreement with Musk. In order to optimize our future survival as a species, we need to spread to other bodies in the solar system, and perhaps also build new space habitats in orbit around the sun, especially as the human population will continue to increase in numbers (albeit at a slower rate).

But I am also in disagreement with Musk. I do not consider it our top priority right now.

Mars terraformation is alluring as a prospect, but the fact is that we (as a species) currently unintentionally are leading a venusformation of Earth, by upsetting the planet’s climate, and a marsformation by creating artificial linearly arranged environments – environments which on their own cannot support life.

This goes not only for Musk, but for large parts of the space industry. I do not believe that the motivation in this case is primarily greed or power, but rather imagination and curiousity – and tragically passion. The very same passion for “the final frontier” that I myself holds dear.

This passion can under the wrong circumstances contribute to the destruction of the Biosphere of the planet. But I move ahead of myself.

Rocky_Mars_Surface

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Mars.

A frozen radioactive wasteland with extreme temperature variations, a very irregular orbit around the sun, a weak atmosphere with little protection from dangerous UV rays, the north being a plain with raging dust storms (and radioactive dust at that), and the south a barren rocky landscape.

The only place vaguely reminiscent of this on Earth is located in the far south…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

wattsupwiththat.com

Humans have part-settled Antarctica since the late 19th century (whaling stations) and today mostly have presence through research stations. These stations are dependent on supplies by shipments from the US, Brazil, Russia and other countries that have bases on Antarctica. Of course, people are growing food there as well, in expensive greenhouse stations, and to some extent are producing their own supplies.

Elon Musk hopes to replicate this on Mars, but with far more people and in a far more hostile environment. Leading such a project would cost billions, to not speak of the terraformation of Mars which would be necessary to create a long-term flourishing colony.

The colony would be dependent on supplies shipments from Earth, on fuels for transporting colonists, and would mean that thousands of scientists would commit themselves to this project, while the Earth is burning.

breartonbooks.com

breartonbooks.com

The first priority

Elon Musk and other visionaries are the kind of people that our planet is needing at this moment. And with “this planet”, I’m not referring to the Red Planet, with its many alluring mysteries. Rather, I am referring to Earth, our cradle and cosmic ship, with which we are undertaking a journey throughout the galaxy, dancing with the stars.

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How can you think of saying “fuck Earth“, mr Musk? This world has brought to you your life. The complex biosphere in which you have been born and raised, have given humanity the opportunity to rise to gaze at the stars. No matter how fascinating Mars is, it is essentially a dead world – a radioactive desert on which you hope to plant the seeds of human civilization.

At this very moment, in basements and laboratories throughout the world, geeks are dreaming of terraforming Mars – while Earth burns in pain.

If we have the power to terraform Mars, how come we cannot save Earth?

nature.com

nature.com

On Earth and on life

What kind of values would you like us to spread throughout the stars? Should we spread the values of McDonalds? Of acquisition? Of real estate? Or should we try to aspire to greater things as a civilization?

I would argue, that the greatest thing there is in the Universe, is Life.

Intelligent civilizations, wherever they are located, should all be humbled by the fact that they arose from the humble origin of primitive organisms on their home planets, and that they have been nurtured by the biospheres of their home planets. Life creates diversity, opportunities, experience, and from what I can observe, all living things want to live.

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It makes no sense for a species that can create culture, arts and music, to devastate and murder their own planet for nothing else than to maximise the outcome on a curve for the fastest possible rate. I would argue that humanity as a whole owes a thing to itself, namely to prove itself worthy by turning our way around and saving this “fucking” Earth (as Musk would say).

If we can terraform the Moon, Mars and Venus, it would be an easy task saving the Earth.

Summary

palaeos.com

palaeos.com

The kind of habitats we imagine on other worlds, with biodomes, green energy and recycling/upcycling/downcycling facilities, must be realised on Earth on a massive scale tomorrow. We can build self-sufficient arcologies, housing thousands of people, in habitats spread out over artificial islands in the Pacific. We can create irrigated sustainable cities in the Saharan Desert and on the Arab Peninsula. We can satisfy the world’s energy needs by solar alone.

With the resources and creativity of humanity, we can achieve wonders, but we need to focus.

Like Elon Musk, I dream of humanity crossing the Great Void of Ginnungagap, to journey beyond this Middle Earth, towards Vega and Alpha Centauri, towards Tau Ceti and the Pleyades.

But first, we have to sort out the mess we have created on Earth. If we retreat from that responsibility, we would have lost an opportunity to show ourselves from our best side.

Sincerely, Enrique

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The debate on human nature I, the RBE movements, science and ideology

By Enrique Lescure

The discussion on human nature

Fresco

Jacque Fresco (whom I presuppose you all know about) is basing his arguments for the design for The Venus Project, on his claim that it is scientifically proven that human beings are blank slates that are adapting to their environments, and that heritage and genetics play no role.

His main argument is that human beings behave “capitalistically” in a capitalist society, and will automatically adjust to what he terms a “Resource Based Economy” (RBE) on the basis of this purported scientific truth.

This claim is often the first one that representatives or supporters of various RBE movements are using against people who question whether or not a transition to an entirely untested system is a wise idea.

Sadly, the scientific foundations for this argument are very shaky, and in its pure form, the argument is simply flawed. I will devote this article not on what human nature is, but on the debate on human nature and its relations to science, ideology and human behaviour, in order to try to explain why Jacque Fresco and other RBE followers are using this argument to sell The Venus Project.

What science is, and is not

Science

Often, when laypersons meet at pubs, private places or parks to discuss, and the topic is on some subject they’ve perhaps heard on the radio or seen on Youtube, they often talk about that “the scientists have said that…”, or “that is not true, because the scientists…”

Other people, often belonging to the minority of people susceptible to conspiracy thinking, believe that the scientists are out to destroy society, or “fabricate global warming”, that there is a nefarious Agenda 21 (which is almost unrecognisable from the real Agenda 21) which aims to depopulate Earth in order to save it.

No matter if you view “the scientists” as some sort of revered final authority which stands above the understanding of “ordinary commoners”, or see them as a nefarious cabal intending to upheaval and mischief, you see yourself as separate from them, and them as having access to knowledge and information which you could never hope to attain.

That is not what science is.

Science is from the beginning two different methodologies combined with documentation and archiving. The two methodologies (there are more, but these two are the main ones that are utilised), empiricism and rationalism.

Empiricism is basically experience-based learning, where scientists tests their hypotheses by for example mixing two or more elements or conducting testing under controlled conditions. Rationalism is a process whereby the possible reasons for the outcomes of the experiments should be weighed against one another until those proven less likely are scrapped.

In our modern age, the ideal is that this entire process should be monitored, by those involved writing their hypotheses, methodologies, results and conclusions and subject it to peer review. The ideal is that the experiments should be repeatable and that even a scientist with opposing views would find the same results as the first scientist.

Of course, pride, research grants, professor positions and politics inside faculties are playing a role, and there have been cases of fraud and academic corruption. Yet that is not primarily the fault of the process, but rather a testament to the kind of system that the process is occurring within. It is also a testament to the human tendency to factionalise, especially amongst dominant males.

This however can be corrected, as science – unlike many religions and ideologies – is self-correcting. Ambitious scientists are welcome to challenge established wisdom and question old beliefs, and in this way our understanding of the world is improved.

How political and religious movements are (mis)using science

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During the late 19th century, the European colonial powers divided the continent of Africa between themselves, subjecting the indigenous nations of brutal exploitation and oppression. However, to admit that for the home audience (and possibly for oneself, as an exploiter) would create a psychological scar. Thus, the imperialists devised for themselves and for the public arguments for why they “ought” to “civilize” Africa.

One of the obvious arguments was that the inhabitants had not received Christ yet, and therefore it was pivotal to send missionaires to Africa to bring “the ignorant savages” into the fold of “Christian Civilization”.

A perhaps quite unexpected argument, which however reminds a bit of the arguments for NATO-led military interventions usually made at our contemporary era, was to “protect” the peoples of Subsaharan Africa from Arab slavers, selling slaves to the markets of the Ottoman Empire.

The nastiest – and in a dark way the most “honest” – answer why, was provided by ideologists and by scientists of that era who acted like ideologists. They were basing their theories on Charles Darwin’s theories, written in his two books The Origin of Species and Descent of Man, and chose to interpret the books in such a manner that they believed there was some kind of evolutionary struggle between the “inferior” and “superior” races of mankind.

According to this view, the Europeans had “the right” to impose colonial control upon Africa, because the European states were stronger than the African kingdoms and had superior weapons. This kind of motivation had little that differed it from the motivations found on steles in Mesopotamia, raised by the kings of the cruel Assyrian Empire. But the darwinian explanation became popular amongst intellectual circles in Europe and the Americas because it was “scientifically based” and had support from large parts of the scientific establishment.

Herbert Spencer took this cruel ideology masked as science, and applied it on the class issues in Europe at the time. Arguing against social reforms and social justice, he claimed that those who were poor were sentenced to poverty not by an unjust political system but by their “evolutionary inferiority” (genetics were not known at that time). Thus, that some people died very young because of lethal working conditions and were subjected to starving and homelessness was none other’s fault than themselves, for having been born with such “inferior bodies and minds”.

This argument has – by the way – made a reappearance in the Anglo-Saxon world, as has the argument that some races are intellectually inferior. This has been contested however.

On the progressive side, similar sweeping scientific claims have been made about for example gender relations issues and LGBT issues. While those who seek to preserve existing hierarchies delve into science in order to justify social injustices, progressives delve into science to fight social injustices.

The first example of this kind of use of science is the theory – supported by a lot of feminist researchers – that all the differences between the sexes can be attributable to patriarchy and to the traditional cultural gender norms that women and men have been forced to live under, and that nothing – nothing – is affected by human biology. From this follows that society should actively intervene in order to subvert these norms, abolish the genders as social constructs and allow all human beings to liberate themselves and define their own identity independent from the norms and expectations from society, an ideological goal which I find as noble as a RBE.

The second theory that is usually presented by progressives is that humans are born with sexual preferences, and therefore people have the right to express their sexual orientation by entering relationships with other grown-up adults. It is understandable that LGBT activists are using this defence in order to try to make a homophobic society tolerate the presence of people with non-hetero orientations.

What is wrong with using science like this?

IntrospectionWhen science is used to motivate political agendas, it can increasingly fall under the risk of being reduced to a dogma, especially if the political agenda happens to be dominant within an institution. Scientists who have dissenting theories or who’s academic honesty has led them into other conclusions can then be subjected to peer pressure and be marginalised within academia. A science which can hardly be questioned from within leaps the risk of turning into ideology – an ideology which motivates itself not by the merits and consistency of its values but by claiming the reverence of being scientific, while demanding to not be questioned out of ideological concerns.

If we take our progressive examples, feminism would not fall to pieces if it is proven that what we within human societies have seen as gender-specific behaviours are partially based on biological mechanisms such as hormones affecting the amygdala, since it does not follow that it then would mean that women must conform to patriarchal norms or that we should not question such norms any more.

And does it follow that we would have the right to oppress LGBT people if it was shown that sexual orientations can develop by a mixture of genetic conditions, choice and environmental factors? I don’t believe that, and I believe that the argument that “we have to accept LGBT people because they are born that way” deprives human beings from the power of their own destinies, and also indirectly implies that society would be perfectly within that right if they weren’t “born that way”.

Summa summarum…

bias

Rightist activists tend to argue that humans are entirely driven by genes and biology, and are therefore inherently unequal, and that “capitalism is in human nature”. All gender behaviour differences are genetic, but homosexuality is a free choice and “gays should straighten up”. All other economic systems than free market capitalism are bound to fail due to “the laws of nature”, and races are unequal…

Leftist activists on the other hand, tend to argue that humans are more driven by environment than genes, that the first human societies were egalitarian, and that humans have the freedom to choose how to form their communities. Gender behaviour differences are instituted through Patriarchy, sexual orientations are something that humans are born with, and socialism lies much more in human nature than capitalism. Races do not exist…

Yes I admit it, these two descriptions of two activists are stereotypical, and probably neither one is existing in pure form as an ideological activist in the real world. But these kinds of supposedly “scientific” arguments used with the faint hope of ending debates that doesn’t change the mind of anyone partaking (especially not between two people) have cropped up in discussions numerous times, until people almost repeat them automatically.

The point is, when you use science primarily as a mean to support your political agenda, you are not in fact advancing your political agenda (you are giving it crutches which it probably doesn’t need), and you are turning science into a dogma. The academic world is probably fraught with bias already, but fighting bias with bias is never a good idea, and will inevitably create such monstrosities as Biblical Archeology and Intelligent Design, “sciences” entirely devoted to spreading agendas.

Science is not about believing what you want to believe, but to boldly follow evidence, wherever it might lead you. And yes, established scientists since long ago has often been bad on that, and allowed their bias and political opinions to affect their work. They are only human after all.

How to correctly use science

Milky wayYou have values and sentiments, right? You want the society to progress in a specific direction, and are highly motivated. Perhaps you are even ascribing to a consistent ideology. Society is not working so well as it could, and you are ready to struggle to move it into a direction that you’ll view as more beneficial for humanity and/or the environment.

What you should do is that you should educate yourself, and use information available and judge it critically, no matter if you agree with it or not. If you get into a position of responsibility, science is of great aid since it tells which routes are more possible and which routes are less. You do not need to change your values if established science would find out something less flattering about your species, the environment or social structures, instead you should use that new knowledge as a way to better be able to realise your values in reality. That is not possible if you decide to use the scientific texts you agree with as dogma.

The Soviet Union collapsed not because of war, but largely because its academia and research was heavily restricted by Marxist-Leninist dogma, which together with the police state created an unwillingness to question the collective farms, the static prices or the command economy. The Islamic world stagnated largely because the Ash’ari theological school (which stressed the absolute predetermination by God’s will of everything that happens) triumphed over the Mu’tazilites and their more open interpretations of scripture. If the Mu’tazilites had won that struggle, it wouldn’t be inconceivable that the Islamic world could have pioneered the scientific revolution. Greek science stagnated during the Roman Era, largely because Plato and Aristotle were treated as authorities which could not be questioned by the literate classes.

So use science as a map, but not as a guiding light for your heart. Use it as a tool to achieve a goal. But do not for all what matters in your mind mix up the tool itself with the goal in your heart.

Reality? What reality?

Cosmos

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Ultimately, there are two constants in the existence of sapient life: The self and the exterior of the self. We can refer to “the self” as “the mind”, while everything exterior of the self (from unconscious bodily functions to far away galaxies) can be referred to as “reality”.

Our body interconnects our minds with reality, through sensory stimulus and the need for nutrition. However, we are not born (or arguably able) to understand what reality is. It can have something to do with us being evolved not for understanding the mysteries of the Cosmos, but rather for surviving and procreating on the African plains.

Anyway, here we are, operating a civilization that we ultimately are ill-equipped to understand by virtue of our biology, and trying to make sense of the complex world we are finding ourselves in.

There are several tools for understanding reality, but the two most utilised have been Mythos and Logos.

Mythos is a way of ascertaining reality by forming a comprehensive world-view which often is normative, meaning that it is focused on mending the gap between the material and moral realities, and to establish a meaning with life. We won’t really focus on Mythos for this article, but preoccupy ourselves with various ways of understanding Logos, and of the arguably damaging effects of neo-subjectivist ideas.

I am talking, to an extent, about the discourse of the conflict between hermeneutics and positivism, and about what separates The Earth Organisation for Sustainability from The Venus Project and many of the “RBE Organisations” which have plopped up during the last few years.

What is science?

Most human beings are to an extent employing science when they determine which way is the best way. It can be everything from cooking, building treehouses and gardening, to arranging furniture and making music together with your friends. In short, science is not in itself complicated.

Science is to make judgements out of experience and test results, rather than from opinions, biases or authority, and then be open for that new and improved information can be available, rather than to prefer the old information.

Of course, it should be stated that scientific fields are not testing randomly, but are building on what previous generations have made and are employing mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering principles and various research methods, as well as peer reviews and standardised reporting techniques to establish a transparent and secure process for attaining new knowledge and be able to apply it within various areas.

The foundation

For science to work, there must be several conditions met. Experiments must be falsifiable, meaning that they must be possible to conduct and repeat under controlled conditions, and that they must be open for criticism based on science. Moreover, the experiments must be possible to repeat by researchers who have vastly different biases, and yet yield the same results. Also, the process must be open for examinations by other experts in the same field.

Moreover, if there are several possible conflicting interpretations for events, then the usual manner in which how to proceed has been to first look at the most simple explanations, rather than to move to wildly divergent scenarios.

Positivism

The traditional way of studying natural sciences (or “hard science”) has been to follow this process and learn new experiences from it. Positivism, as the underlying “scientistic” norm has been referred to, have several weaknesses, which have been addressed both amongst adherents to positivism and to critics, usually from the New Left academic environment, who formulated different types of scientific methodologies (one of which is Hermeneutics, which is very questionable itself as a methodology).

What I however want to criticise with the RBE movements is not Hermeneutics, since the RBE movements seem to originate from a idiosyncratic fusion of youth disillusionment, New Age, Conspiracism and The Venus Project rather than from New Left Academia.

The problems with the RBE Cosmology

Free_Energy_Orgones

I would argue that the biggest enemy currently of the RBE movement is the RBE movement itself, or rather the over-enthusiastic followers of RBE concepts, who seem to understand science as a substitute for religion. Let me explain my position with this illustrative image from above.

While I do not doubt that most RBE followers genuinely want to help the world, there is a problem which I have spotted amongst many vocal RBE followers, and that is their ignorance of the scientific method, as well as (even more sadly) a disinterest in the scientific process.

I have seen RBE followers share Wilhelm Reich, Nassim Haramein, Drunvalo Melchizedek, David Icke and other conspiracy theorists uncritically, and whenever such posts are erased from the EOS Facebook group, we are accused of censoring information and of being authoritarian. I have seen RBE followers being drawn into anarcho-primitivist groups, new age groups and antisemitic conspiracy groups.

It can almost seem like when the foundations of reality are changed, everything passes, and people stop using their critical faculties to disseminate information.

But this does not only pass for false information. It is troubling as well when it passes for true information or information that has a scientific basis.

I would be very worried if tomorrow EOS would get 200 new followers, who all would profess a nearly religious faith in the teachings of our movement, and the current EOS director (no offence, Dr. Wallace 😉 ). Equally troubling it is when people profess blind faith in Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking or any other contemporary figure within mainstream science.

To some extent, a lot of people have shown a predisposition for a need to believe in something.

Anyway, often times, we have heard that the reason that we do not work together with some specific other RBE associations (for example, The Venus Project), is that we are petty and have “big egos”. The people framing such criticisms seem to either be surprised by our reply or ignore it, but our reply is the following:

We cannot know whether or not a RBE is working before testing out the principles locally.”

Jacque Fresco himself is evidently a positivist, at least to the point where he affirms that the scientific method is the foundation for TVP. However, there are several problems with TVP, firstly that Jacque has achieved a guru-like status within the organisation, and secondly that there are no other scientists or engineers apart from Jacque within TVP, and also that most of the followers of TVP seem to have this nearly religious belief that a RBE certainly will solve every problem with everything imaginable, and that all issues of scarcity will be removed permanently (Limits of Growth beg to differ).

Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm, but beware that enthusiasm is always based on a bias. One of the reasons why we in the EOS are trying to break our own design by various simulations and tests, is that the design itself is of less importance than whether or not it can contribute positively to the future of the planet and to sustainability. We need to learn to distance ourselves from our emotional entanglements and behave like scientists.

We need to understand the scientific process.

There have been many problems with science, including elitism, dependency on multinational corporations, dependency on governments, biases connected to prejudices about social groups and a disturbing homogenity of the composition of the science corps. These issues are not addressed by throwing out mainstream science and replacing it with a wild subjectivism where people “put their faith” in various gurus.

These issues can only be addressed by teaching people the foundations of the scientific method from an early age, and learn children how to apply science themselves.

Overpopulation vs Overproduction

The reasoning for this post is an interesting topic which we discussed in the EOS Facebook Group recently. indian_family_22_oct_2003

When you put a dozen greens in a room, you generally get 60 differing opinions on various topics. One topic which usually makes the room go silent is the topic of population growth. There are three different reasons for population growth being a hot topic in green circles.

Firstly, this issue, when formulated as a problem, begs for political solutions – which often means intrusive measures carried out into the personal lives of people. This creates a natural cringe reaction, especially as many greens are young parents. It also leads to natural associations with various authoritarian governments, like Nazi Germany’s eugenics laws and the People’s Republic of China’s one-child policies. Even if the person claiming to want population control doesn’t specify how – or maybe exactly because of that – people’s thoughts are led to the nightmares of forced sterilisation, adoption clinics, police state measures and sex regulations. And nothing scare people as much as the thought of the state scrutinising their personal lives.

Secondly, harking from this, a lot of greens are aspiring politicians – even in smaller “deep green” parties. They are aware that if you talk about population control, people will flee your party like the cat is fleeing a cold bath. Population control is a kiss of death in western politics. The reasons for this are not irrational. Nobody (or at least a miniscule minority) are wanting intrusive measures into their own lives by the government.

For me, the most important argument against population control as the main source for combatting the ecological crisis is scientific and moral. I will discuss the scientific reasoning first, and that would make the third reason why the subject is cringe-worthy, and the reason which personally makes me tick.

The claim is that we have too little resources to sustain the current population of Earth, and that the population will constantly rise due to the “arithmetic factors” of growth. Professor Al Bartlett of the University of Colorado is claiming this in a lecture which has found its way into Youtube. He is contested by mainstream science, represented by professor Hans Rosling. While EOS has many criticisms against Rosling, it is worth noting that Malthusians like Al Bartlett are doing sustainability advocacy a huge misservice. Having listened to Bartlett’s lecture and read about his resumé, I cannot find any information which shows that he is an expert on population growth curves and trends.

Human beings are not bacteria, and do not reproduce mindlessly. The first warning sign was when he claimed there is no correlation between a “population growth reduction” and education and healthcare, but instead took wars and diseases as positive examples. All research examples are showing that when life expectancy and education are going up, population growth is dropping and eventually stabilising. While a peak of 9 billion might be a little optimistic, it stands clear that if current trends continue, human population growth will stagnate. PopulationGrowth

The main question then is if it is stabilising on a level which represents an acute threat to the planetary eco-systems. Proponents of expansion of agricultural production are usually claiming that we need to increase global production in order to sustain for all people who are starving. This is a misconception. We can feed more than ten billion people today more than adequately. The famines around the world would not exist if the system was designed to accommodate all human needs. Currently, the demand in supply’n’demand is very much designated by the demand of money, which means that if you lack money, you lack demand (and don’t presumably have any needs). The food scarcity is rather a monetary scarcity than a real scarcity at the moment.

Then what is the real problem?

If you look at the graph above, it shows that the global population was almost at  2 billion in the year 1900. Today, the world population is slightly above 7 billion. That represents around a 3,5 times increase since 1900, which is indeed something worth thinking about. That is dwarfed however, by the growth of the economy since year 1900. According to J. Bradford de Long of UC Berkeley, the global economy (GWP) has grown from 1 to 41 trillion USD (1990) between year 1900 and 2000, representing a 40 time increase, or 4000%. Economic growth is not de-attached from the physical resource economy, and the physical resource economy is co-existing in the same environment that constitutes the global biosphere.

That can explain why we are using more resources than the Earth can renew on an annual basis, the annual eco-deficit (a gradual reduction of the Earth’s bio-diversity visible in statistics). This continuous destruction of the Earth’s habitats is driven by the need of the current system to maximise growth figures, and not by people in the third world gaining access to education and healthcare. Those who claim that overpopulation is the main reason behind the ecological malaise are doing a very great disservice to the planet and to future generations. By misdiagnosing the disease, they are advocating faulty remedies which would not cure the problem.

I won’t claim that the overpopulation advocates are driven by any ulterior motives or malevolence, but the idea that overpopulation is the main road towards an ecological collapse in the latter half of the 21st century is looking very much like a shift of the blame from the wealthy parts of the world, where 80% of the world trade is traditionally conducted and where most flashy new products are made, to the poorest and least developed parts of the world, those parts which incidentally have the lowest global footprint. It is also a very real return to the discourse of the 1970s.

Saying that, I won’t omit to mention that we need to engineer social and institutional policies which are leading to a responsible human procreation and family planning. Ultimately however, according to The Design, this should be an issue determined democratically, not scientifically. Human beings must be encouraged to grow up into responsible citizens who can act as stewards of their planet. The purpose of the technate is not to babysit the population, but to ensure that the planetary resources are used in a wise manner.

Needless to say, the Facebook discussion pretty much ended with the population control advocates in disarray.

conspicuous-consumption-flattened-planet-earth

Enrique Lescure, EOS Sequence of Relations Director, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability