S.O.S. Memo #2.  J. Morris Hicks.  (4-25-19)  
How to Stop a Runaway Luxury Train? 
Replace it with a better, totally green train.

As a co-op student engineer who worked for Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) during college, I've always had a thing about trains. 

So these days, in my public talks, I use the image below to describe the way we live in the developed world as somewhat like spending our lives on a runaway luxury train.

In the developed world, our lives revolve around making more money, buying more stuff, adding more people, having a good time and trying to leave a better life for our children--all while feeding a  global economy that would quickly perish without never-ending growth in a world of finite resources. 

I figure that one or two billion of us humans are on that runaway train right now and that the other six or seven billion are trying to climb aboard just as soon as they can.

And with more people on that train, it keeps going faster and faster as all the passengers just want to keep enjoying more luxuries. And guess what? 

No one wants to get off that train. The problem is that this speeding train, unless stopped, will destroy our civilization and drive our species to extinction.

What to do? Offer the passengers a  better train: 

One that will not only provide them with a meaningful and enjoyable life, but will also feature a completely "reinvented" human living arrangement that will be sustainable enough to provide an attractive future for the innocent children who follow us on this planet.
That "better train" is at the very heart and soul of GRATOLA. For the first phase of AGRA, I envision a 2200-mile long, 10-mile wide "green human habitat" corridor stretching from Atlanta to Los Angeles - with an ultra-efficient, HyperLoop transit system in the center.

Later, as that modern new green train is replicated throughout the USA in two or three additional AGRA corridors, it will end up eliminating over 80% of our road vehicles and over 90% of domestic air travel. 

Catching the vision of AGRA and GRATOLA 
Those two acronyms stand for  American Green Region Authority  and the envisioned first corridor that I call  Green Region Atlanta to Los Angeles.

Just in case you haven't read any of my earlier blogs about that "fully imagineered" way of sustainable living for humans, you might want to take a look at my first blog on that topic.

So what do I mean by the term imagineering? It describes a process that I first heard about from Bill Conway, former Fortune 500 CEO with whom I worked in the mid 90's. Bill was a disciple of the legendary W. Edwards Deming, whose legacy is most-related to the quality-improvement work he did in Japan after WW2. 

I am not sure if the "imagineering" term came from Conway or from Deming, but it was a concept that I lean on heavily when trying to plant the seed for promoting the reinvention of the way we live on this planet.  
Since that first blogpost about the GRATOLA vision seven months ago, that vision has been directly mentioned or referenced in the next 31 blogposts. You can find all of them on this page, with the most-recent listed first:

A few days after posting the  first blog about the GRATOLA vision, I received an email from Dr. Peter Wadhams, of the University of Cambridge. 

In my talks, I describe him as arguably the world's leading scientific authority when it comes to the Arctic Ocean and its crucial impact on abrupt climate change, a phenomenon that's taking place right now. 

Peter wrote this to me on 9-24-18:

Dear Jim, 

Many thanks. A great idea! It shows how, given intelligence and goodwill, we can create something like a   paradise on earth - certainly a sustainable society. The question is, as E.O. Wilson says, why haven't we done   this already? 

In fact we haven't done it anywhere, not just in the US. Wilson fears that there is something in the   soul of man that is not right - of this crooked timber no straight thing was ever built - so we are bound to screw   up, just as we let Trump screw up the Paris climate agreement.

Best wishes, Peter

In reflecting on those sincere words from Dr. Wadhams about the GRATOLA idea seven months ago, it prompts me to reflect on E.O. Wilson's conclusion that we humans have the intelligence, the generosity, the goodwill and the enterprise to create a paradise on Earth.

So w hy haven't we done this already? Wilson said it's because we're an innately dysfunctional species. Well, I am thinking that with some help from AI (artificial intelligence), we might be able figure it out. 

I see three things preventing us from doing just that: 
  • No Vision. There has been no high level, feasible, publicly shared, global vision of exactly how we might ever live in harmony with nature.
  • No Discussion.There hasn't even been a meaningful discussion at the levels of power necessary to make it happen.
  • No Emergency. There have been no environmental disasters of epic proportions to jolt us into action.
Until all of that happens, I will just continue to promote the GRATOLA vision until someone comes up with a better idea. On that note, I repeat a point that I made last week:

Do I think the GRATOLA idea will really work? Maybe it will or maybe something like it will. Who knows? But that's not the point. 

The point is that by putting one "envisioned" solution out there, it will hopefully spark more "big picture" thinking around the world - about our future as a species, as we strive to subsist on  the ONLY planet in the universe capable of keeping us alive.

Now for the Weekly Updates 

Last week, the first S.O.S. memo was too long for some of my readers. One way I can shorten them is by only including updates when the new data warrants them. I have two key updates this week:

1. Weekly Arctic Update. The sea ice extent has broken new record lows every day since mid March when the melting season began, until yesterday, when the NSIDC data shows it actually growing by 1,000 square kilometers over the previous day.

That one-day improvement is no cause for celebration, however. That's because the current ice extent is still 1.3 million square kilometers less than on the same date during the all-time record year of 2012.

How big is 1.3 million square kilometers? It's over three times the size of California. So compared to 2012 on this date, we have a whole lot more blue ocean now than we did in 2012.

And unlike the ice it replaces, that dark blue ocean absorbs heat from the sun, which causes more ice to melt, creating more dark blue ocean and so forth...kind of like a runaway train. 

The chart below documents the situation as of Tuesday. The yellow line is 2019 and the dotted green line is 2012, which was the record year for minimum ice extent, occurring on September 17, 2012.

Annual Sea Ice Extent comparing 2012 and 2019

2. Weekly CO2 ppm Update.  Earlier this week, on 4-22-19, we had another Mauna Loa reading above 414 ppm for the seventh time this year. Prior to 2019, there had never been a reading over 413. This key indicator tends to peak in May.

The chart below features the Keeling Curve which shows the very consistent seasonal variation since 1960. Given the regularity of this curve, I fully expect to see an even higher number before June 1.

The Bottom Line. Key indicators that foretell disaster ahead are steadily getting worse. Yet most of the people in the developed world are paying no attention.  They don't want to hear about it, they don't want to think about it and they definitely don't want to talk about it.

I saw a short video (included at the end of this post) of young Greta Thunberg earlier this week as she was speaking about that very fact, noting that until climate change gets more news coverage than sporting events, we have no chance. 

But, as I keep saying, until we have a few devastating natural disasters of epic proportions, most people will want to continue enjoying their luxury train, watching sports and drinking cognac in the lounge car while the piano music plays on.

Full disclosure; I once travelled from Venice to Paris on this train, the incomparable Orient Express - with black tie for cocktails and dinner.

For the record, this is my 33rd week of expanding the GRATOLA idea and, so far, no one has given me a good reason why it will not work...other than to say that our feckless global leadership is not up to the task.

Nevertheless, my weekly S.O.S. memos will continue to focus on "imagineering" a way of saving our civilization and our species. By continuing to describe what I believe to be a feasible possibility, my objective is simply to be a part of the solution in three ways:
  • By expanding the global "conversation" about this most crucial of all topics
  • By prompting others to begin looking at our planet as a "system" within which we must live harmoniously
  • By being a part of a movement to influence and/or coerce those in power to begin urgently developing feasible, global solutions to our sustainability dilemma
So I will continue to focus on all of the above - in my writing, my blogging and my speaking. 

As for speaking, I am constantly looking for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future. 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 expenses and a modest honorarium.

Here's a venue where Dr. Joel Fuhrman recently invited me to speak. You might want to attend his Golden Gate Summer Health Getaway near San Francisco this July. 

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: 

High schools, churches, universities, legislative bodies, environmental organizations, leadership clubs, alumni associations, think tanks and/or civic groups who may appreciate a message of reality and hope for our future. 

Please  let me hear from you directly regarding any ideas or questions you may have.

Today, I will end S.O.S. Memo #2 with a new video (from The Guardian) of young Greta Thunberg as she speaks about the way the news media focuses far more on sports than on climate change. A 3-minute video.

Greta Thunberg at Guardian Live: 'This is an emergency'
Greta Thunberg, 'This is an emergency'

What else can you do? Three things:

1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are crucially necessary to 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.

Be well,

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks 
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC

I welcome your feedback and/or questions at:  jmh@4leafglobal.com

Need  a speaker for your group?  My updated topic for 2019:  Saving our Civilization -- Earth as a "System"

 (now contains 5-minute video of me speaking in Tucson) 

In the past 12 months, I have spoken at a  VegFest in
Fort Myers, at  vsh.org  in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, the   College of the Holy Cross  in Worcester, MA, a  Plant Powered Manhattan  event in New York, and at a lakeside health conference in  South Haven, Michigan and most recently in Buffalo, NY, and at the University of Scranton.

To schedule a presentation at a venue near you, please contact me at   jmh@4leafglobal.com

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

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