The Future of the Future . Mark T. Brown September 27, 2005
Connect threads... INTELLECTUAL TAPESTRY - something that is felt to resemble a tapestry in its complexity;
Thread #1: Whats Education For? courtesy of David Orr "All my means are sane, my motive and object mad.” Herman Melville's Captain Ahab
If today is like any other day... We will loose… 116 mi2 Rainforest 72 mi2 to encroaching deserts 40- 250 species
If today is like any other day... The human population will increase by 250,000 We will add 2,700 tons of CFC’s 15 million tons CO2 Erode 75 million tons of top soil
By years end... The area of rainforest lost will equal an area the size of Washington State Expanding deserts will have grown by an area equal to the state of West Virginia Global population will have increased by 90,000,000 We will have lost 20% of the species that existed on the planet in 1900
This is not the work of ignorant people… It is, rather, largely the result of the work of the “most highly educated” workforce in the history of humankind, people with…. BAs….. BSs……. MEs……. Ph.Ds…... LLBs…... MBAs, etc.
What is wrong?... It is the result of an education system that has failed us….. An education that stresses Abstraction not consciousness, Answers instead of questions, Reductionism instead of holism
Thread #2: competing paradigms “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein
Two overlapping and incompatible dichotomies… Matter/energy ~ Money Humanity ~ Nature
Matter-energy and the Monetary Culture • Our present industrial civilization is handicapped by the coexistence of two incompatible intellectual systems: • the accumulated knowledge of the last four centuries of the properties and interrelationships of matter and energy; and • the associated monetary culture which has evolved from folkways of prehistoric origin.
Wealth stems from… Resources Money
Humanity and Nature • Civilization is further handicapped by the existence of an incompatible metaphysical construct: • Humanity is not natural, the artifacts of humanity are “man-made” VS.. • Nature is everything, including humanity.
Physical Laws of the Universe…… Only apply here… Don’t apply here…
Thought patterns color reality… To illustrate ...
In reality… we know the sun does not rise or set… …and there is no such thing as up or down.
These world views lead to …. Four somewhat overlapping, incompatible paradigms
Humanity Money Energy Nature Technocracy Neoclassical Economics Ecological Economics Biophysical Sciences
Economics… Economics can be a beautiful instrument when applied in its original meaning: to put the house (oikos) of mankind in order. Herman Daly
Economics… The money economy is only a part of the picture…
Thread #3: A Growth Ethic… “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” (Ronald Reagan40th president of US) “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” - Edward Abbey
Exponential Growth… The failure to understand the concept of exponential growth by those “in charge” may be the single biggest problem we face… Doubling Time = 70/n years Growth rateD time 3% 24 yrs 5% 14 yrs 7% 10 yrs 10% 7 yrs
Exponential Growth… Our ability and inclination to enrich the present at the expense of the future, and of other species, is as real and sinful as our tendency to further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Herman Daly
Thread #4: Net Energy “Like ice in a fire, something for nothing you’ll never acquire.” Mr. Ryan (bulldog)
Net Energy…energy costs of obtaining energy When the energy cost of recovering a barrel of oil becomes greater than the energy content of the oil, production will cease, no matter what the monetary price may be.
Net Energy… We believe that to maintain society’s current level of infrastructure and information processing, a net energy of about 4/1 is required.
Net Energy…conventional sources All declining…
Net Energy… Net energy of biomass is barely 1/1
Thread #5: M.King Hubbert’s Bilp “Humankind cannot stand very much reality.” T.S. Elliot
Peak Oil… “My analyses are based upon the simple fundamental geologic fact that initially there was only a fixed and finite amount of oil in the ground, and that, as exploitation proceeds, the amount of oil remaining diminishes monotonically.” M.King Hubbert
Peak Oil… New discoveries are not keeping pace with demand
United States Alaska No matter how you cut it… the hydrocarbon age is about over. World
Peak Oil… Global politics for the next two decades…
Thread #6: Population “The morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.” (J. Fletcher, Situation Ethics. 1966)
Global Population… Migration and urbanization Brain drain, globalization, coastal crowding, xenophobia and discrimination, dying rural towns…
Global Population… and environment 70 percent of the world's poor rely on the land for income and subsistence.
Global Population… and resources Humans currently consume 20 percent more natural resources than the earth can produce. The impact of an average North American is double that of a European, and seven times that of the average Asian or African. (WWF, October 2004)
Thread #7: Models of Humanity and Nature The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models which, describe observed phenomena… Johann Von Neumann
Models as visions… Macroscopic Mini-models… Used to overview theory principles, and concepts… and to test hypotheses regarding how things work.
Models as visions… The Information Era A vision of the history of humanity modeled as a succession of epochs