Thoughts on Tomorrow

With life returning to something resembling normality, I have a few drafts compiled and a few ideas stewing. My biggest problem currently is grappling with a demon on my shoulder; how do I obtain the impact in my writing that reflects the reality of the situation whilst not tending to sensational alarmism?

My favourite quote from Vaclav Smil will probably help me get over this hurdle;

“You see, we are smart, so we see these small things coming and we see the trend is going. But we are unwilling to act unless it’s a bit too late or unless it is inevitable to act, really… Not that we are bad at recognising the trends. We see them, you would have to be stupid not to see many of these trends, right? But we are unwilling to act because it’s easier not to act than to act. Because to act, it is always some sort of sacrifice. And we are not willing to take voluntary sacrifice.”

In short, it’s probably not the impact or even placing a time frame on anything (ie. 4 or more degrees C of warming by 2100 means little to the vast majority of us for instance) that will make a difference. Talking, rather than sitting silently, is probably the best tool we all share. The power of the meme.

Anyway, watch this space as I’m sure to have some new posts up in the very near future.

Until then, I attended an Ag Institute forum on Tuesday. There were many great speeches as well as discussions of the problems and potential for food production into the future. The two highlights for me were;

Brian Keating  “Food security and Australian Agriculture”Podcast (44 mins)Slides (PDF)
Mike Raupach  “Energy-water-carbon intersection – implications for agriculture”Podcast (42 mins)Slides (PDF)

And Wayne Meyer made a point I somewhat attempted to allude to in both Innovation is Key and The Human Island, in that the future landscape must be one that reflects something natural environmental modelling (ie. evolving ecosystems) had worked out long before mammalian species had even appeared. That is that they are mixed mosaics of functions which are all interconnected.

His example focused on mainly agriculture, but I’m certain the application should go far wider. You can’t build a car with a tool box full of identical Philips-head screwdrivers. Diversity is fundamental to services and thus production.

Anyway, more on that in the coming weeks!

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Tomorrow

  1. Moth, Yes, it is often attempting to make change involves risk and sacrifice. Many have lost their lives trying (Syria, the Amazon, etc.). But there is the possibility for great rewards. If you have meaning in your life, you live fully and deeply. There is great joy in any creative venture that springs from the dance between heart and mind. And there is the great friendship that comes from collaboration. I always try to get folks to have a beer together after the work is done. Essential to have fun whenever we can.

    But, in the end, what do we do when the situation demands more?

    Hamlet said something like that, “To be or not to be? that is the question.”

    “So say we all.” (The “Amen” from Battlestar Galactica). Best and Thanks, Hank Cole

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  2. Is it ‘sensational alarmism’ to shout ‘FIRE!’ when the house is burning down?

    I have it in my head (as with so many things, may be right, may be wrong) that fewer people would have lost their lives in the Twin Towers disaster had Those In Charge not issued instructions to those in the buildings to return to their offices (perhaps fearing a panic?).

    Yes, we need to keep talking but we also need to persuade our “elected leaders” (hah!) to act, and act individually, where we can, too.

    I find it especially ironic that while the Internet enables communication, the conversations we have are all far too fragmented, and there is a great deal of miscommunication and misunderstanding. You and I ‘chatting’ here is unlikely to have much effect on the greater narrative; the idiot box still rules the roost, steering the conversation of the big picture under the direction of a small, unelected minority (mostly bent on advertising revenue, fueling the excessive consumerism that is the root cause of our current predicament). Over there, we have more than thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from… I keep wondering why it is that not even one of them (available to me here in the UK, anyway) is dedicated to green issues?

    PS typos:
    s/The two highlights for me where/The two highlights for me were/
    s/attempted to elude to in/attempted to allude to in/

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    1. Unfortunately, it is ineffective to scream “fire” in this situation. If the fire took a century to burn the house down, would people take your calls seriously? The scale of the situation (in both time and distance) makes the analogy somewhat inappropriate.

      Hank, at Ekos squared, writes a lot on the need to persuade leaders. Personally, the state of the Australian government sickens me. I know that banter is part and parcel of selling a political line, however, it seems to have become the all encompassing. Whenever any political head suggests something, the opposing group will simply retort, “it’s a thinly veiled attempt to…” or.. I went on to write other examples, but no doubt you’ve heard it all before. In essence, I think the level of unrest globally speaks for itself. It doesn’t matter how democratic your country is or isn’t, people are waking up to the fact that governments are not working for the people anywhere. I can’t get into that arena or write on it. I have no confidence in the global state of politics whatsoever.

      I agree that the internet conversations are too fragmented, but I feel the idiot box is going the way of the newspaper. Gen X, but even more so Gen Y and whatever we planned to call the newer gen are increasingly less interested in TV. If they don’t like an idea, they move (hence the criticism about short attention spans, which I don’t entirely agree with). The “meme” is really finding traction on the net, where information control is basically non-existent (as much as various groups try to deny) and ideas can move rapidly. I don’t think people >25 will be influenced by TV as people above because they’re used to more interactive technology, just as people >40 are less influenced directly by newspapers. The struggle will be on, as you pointed out; how to overcome the fragmentation.

      Personally, I feel that truth or ideological methods will be the way in which to bring people together in larger numbers. People don’t like feeling like the wool is being placed over their eyes, yet some are uncomfortable with how harsh reality can be. In that way, people able to forgo personal beliefs in a passion for new information will be drawn to outlets of high quality, up-to-date reality, while the rest will be drawn to outlets that confirm their biases. We’ve witnessed as much in the blogosphere regarding climate change. Many where drawn to the communications of working scientists while the rest were drawn to various outlets that provided reassurance that all is good.

      Still, this is only a sideshow and only early days for such technology. Still, I’m certain most younger people don’t get their information from TV, but instead the internet (either directly, or second hand from friends). TV is to them, a part time source of passive entertainment. With modern consoles being strongly connected to the internet, as is their phone, tabs, laptops, whatever, with widgets always live for both social and informational needs, the limitations of the idiot box are being felt. We can both take joy in what the future may hold for that technology.

      Thanks for the spotted typos! It’s always difficult to proof-read yourself!

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