This SOS Memo is a tribute to three of the world's greatest living scientists, a highly accomplished and distinguished group whose collective body of work should be urgently leveraged - in the interest of the future of humanity.
The oldest turned 100 in July, the youngest is 85 and the other is 90. And while all of them have won many awards, none has won the Nobel Prize, which is a travesty. From the Nobel Prize website, this phrase succinctly defines the general criteria for their prize:
Prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind
What kind of work would confer the greatest possible
benefit on mankind
? By definition, it would have to be work that best raises the chances of longterm human survival. And, according to my research, there are few, if any, living scientists who have contributed more on that topic than the three champions featured herein.
Why do I call them "big picture" scientists? It's because they have all stepped outside the narrow boundaries of their own academic specialties and have connected the dots relative to the many factors that affect our future as a species.
All three have made enormous contributions to humanity during their careers and continue to do so at a torrid pace. Two have published books in the last two years and the other is putting the finishing touches on a new book now. I will begin with the centenarian.
I. James Lovelock of the UK. Scientist, Inventor and Engineer, originator of the GAIA Hypothesis
James Lovelock at 100 - still taking long walks near his home in the English countryside
Dr. Lovelock turned 100 on July 26, 2019, and published has latest book, Novacene, at about the same time - a book in which he explains how humanity might best leverage the rapidly developing AI (artificial intelligence) tools and robots that could be crucial to our survival as a species. On a related topic, I also recommend his 2014 book entitled, A Rough Ride to the Future.
According to his Wikipedia page, he is best known for his Gaia Hypothesis
which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system. I cannot imagine a "bigger picture" view of things than that. Part of his
big picture thinking
is no doubt a result of his choice to remain a true "independent" scientist for most of his career; therefore not beholden to the commercial or political whims of most employers.
I first discovered Dr. Lovelock a few years ago after finding several of his videos online. In a 2010 BBC video, he made a terrifying statement about our crisis that we faced then and one that is even more urgent today...at the 1:30 mark into this two-minute video:
|James Lovelock on the end of Civilization
This statement below from the above video defines the essence of true big picture thinking of the highest order:
If the Earth improves as a result of our presence, then we will flourish. If it doesn't, then we will die off.
To me, that simple statement speaks volumes about what we must do. We must address every single aspect of our current civilization that could be negatively impacting the natural biosystem that gives us life. For a look at how we might reinvent our civilization, take a look at my recent piece about Donkeys and Spaceships.
Now on to the two American scientists:
II. E.O. Wilson of the USA, PhD, Biology, Harvard, winner of two Pulitzer prizes
Dr. Wilson turned 90 on June 10, 2019, after publishing his latest book, Genesis, earlier this year. In true "big picture" form, he begins the first paragraph as follows:
All questions of philosophy that address the human condition come down to three: what are we, what created us, and what do we wish ultimately to become. The all-important answer to the third question, the destiny we seek, requires an accurate answer to the first two.
I haven't finished reading
, but have been pleased to find that he picks up where he left off in several of his earlier books that I have read:
The Meaning of Human Existence
in 2014 and
(pictured below) in 2017 - with the latter calling for giving half of our planet back to nature, with no strings attached.
less than three minutes, Dr. Wilson introduces his
Half-Earth plan as he explains his dream for humanity in the video below:
E. O. Wilson's Half-Earth Project Introduction
Throughout all of his books, he talks about the primary barrier to solving our sustainability challenge being the political and religious dogma that undermine our ability to fully grasp and act upon, proven scientific facts.
The powerful E.O. Wilson quote below is one that conveys hope for our future - even though he knows that learning to live in true harmony with nature will not be easy, and perhaps, not very likely to ever happen.
We have enough intelligence, goodwill, generosity and enterprise to turn Earth into a paradise both for ourselves and for the biosphere that gave us birth...the problem is that we are an innately dysfunctional species.
As for our own inherent dysfunction, perhaps we can leverage the power of AI to fill in the gaps as we strive to totally reinvent the way we live on this planet. But one thing each one of us can do as individuals - is to follow the simple, yet powerful, dietary guidelines of this youngest scientist of the group:
III. T. Colin Campbell of the USA, PhD, Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell University
My good friend and colleague, Colin Campbell turned 85 on March 14, 2019. His 2005 China Study and 2013 WHOLE are pictured above and he is about to publish another book later this year.
I first discovered Colin's work in 2003, shortly after I became curious about the optimal diet for humans. Early in my research on this topic, I concluded that the best diet for promoting our own health is one that consists mostly of whole, plant-based foods. From the very beginning, I loved Colin's definition of that diet:
The closer we get to eating a diet of whole, plant-based foods, the better off we will be.
In this three-minute video, Colin explains why the terms vegetarian or vegan do not necessarily describe a true, health-promoting diet.
What's wrong with veganism?
It really is very simple. Veganism isn't necessarily a healthy diet because it only describes what you don't eat, and what you DO eat is most important, as
Campbell explains in the short video above.
By simply eating mostly whole plants, we can get all the environmental and sustainability benefits of avoiding animal products, while preventing or reversing chronic disease for ourselves. A true win-win-win for our health, our planet and our future.
What's that got to do with sustainability you might ask? Well, as it turns out, the same diet that promotes the best health for humans - ALSO promotes the best health for the planet.
How so? About two years after learning those critical truths about our food choices, I met Colin and his wife Karen in New York following one of his talks at a restaurant in Manhattan. He and Karen both signed my copy of
The China Study
that night and we've been collaborating ever since.
A few years later, Colin introduced me to the World Bank researchers (Goodland and Anhang) who had concluded that the plant-based diet that Colin was advocating could be instrumental in eliminating the single largest source of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions: the grossly unsustainable process of producing an ever-increasing amount of animal-based foods.
Their final report was published
in November of 2009.
By 2010, I had concluded that even if we cut CO2 emissions by 90% or more throughout the world, we would never be able to live sustainably on this planet without that crucial dietary shift as advocated by Dr. Campbell. The next year, I published my own book on that topic - a book for which Colin and his son Nelson, would write the foreword.
For the record, Colin's simple conclusion about the optimal diet came after leading over 300 peer-reviewed studies at Cornell University - scientific studies that demonstrated the power of that simple, optimal diet to prevent and/or reverse most chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and many others.
Sadly, I should note that Colin's academic career at Cornell University has suffered mightily since he first began going public regarding his findings about the health issues associated with eating animal-based foods. You see, Cornell continues to receive enormous amounts of funding from the dairy and meat industries.
And it's not just Cornell. Regarding our food choices, we continue to be misled by the world's academia, medicine, industry, governments, religions and the media - a tragedy for our physical health, for the health of our planet and for the future of humanity.
The Bottom Line. If we are destined to survive as a species, it will be largely because of the vision, the perseverance and the selflessness of heroic scientists like James Lovelock, E.O. Wilson and T. Colin Campbell.
They have all made a tremendous difference. Now, it's up to the rest of us to make the biggest difference of all - by leveraging the knowledge they have handed us to foster an eventual, globally-coordinated, effort to reinvent human civilization to the extent necessary to live in harmony with the biosystem that sustains us.
I am totally convinced that when compared to working diligently on the above effort - that all other forms of human endeavor would shrink to insignificance.
And sadly, not a single world leader is even talking about this most crucial topic.
We've got a lot of work to do.
In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next twenty years.
My first blog on the crucial topic of totally reinventing our civilization was
posted 9-21-18 and
heads the list below. It was all about GRATOLA, an acronym that refers to the "green region" corridor running from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Since then, I have posted more than forty additional pieces on that topic, including this one on 9-4-19 in which I introduced the GBN (Great Big Northern) - one 25-mile wide corridor along the USA's northernmost border that would theoretically be capable of sustainably housing ALL 300+ million Americans in an area the size of Oregon.
As always, I will continue to focus on this crucial topic - in my research, my writing and my speaking.
As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.
As such, I will travel anywhere for an opportunity to speak to one or more groups in each city that I visit. I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.
As for the specifics of my topic, I invite you to
contact me directly
about how I might tailor my presentation to best suit an audience you may have in mind:
churches, think-tanks, legislative bodies, environmental
organizations, alumni associations, leadership clubs,
and/or civic groups who may appreciate a message of reality and hope for our future.
What else can you do to help?
1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are crucially necessary for saving our civilization.
2. Share this BSB and my
"Mama Ain't Happy"
BSB with prominent journalists, thought leaders and/or elected officials whom you respect. They need to learn a lot more about the many reasons why
Mama ain't happy.
3. Here are a few more GRATOLA-related blogs that you can share with your most powerful friends, leaders, journalists and movie producers.
Until next time, just remember...
Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC
In the past 12 months, I have spoken at a
Fort Myers, at
in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, the
College of the Holy Cross
in Worcester, MA, a
Plant Powered Manhattan
event in New York, at a lakeside health conference in
South Haven, Michigan
, in Buffalo, NY, at the
University of Scranton
and at the Dr.
Golden Gate Health Getaway
near the Silicon Valley.
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