Let's begin with a little background on that long overdue "conversation" about how our civilization might look in 2100.
I have been writing about the need to place far more emphasis on the creation of a "big picture" conceptual design for that new civilization and less emphasis on the frenetic willy-nilly planet stewardship that is happening today.
On that note, I am pleased to report that a mainstream opinion columnist from the NY Times, Farhad Manjoo, published a piece last week that resembles in many ways the "conversation" I have been promoting for months.
The fires and the blackouts are connected to a larger problem
in this state: a failure to live sustainably.
As I have concluded for the entire USA and indeed for the world, we really must go back to the drawing board. Manjoo writes about the "state of the state" of California - as I have been writing about the "state" of the world. His words, in my opinion, apply to both:
We've got the wrong design, we bet on the wrong technologies, we've got the wrong incentives, and we're saddled with the wrong culture...Our whole way of life is built on a series of myths - the myth of endless space, endless fuel, endless water, endless optimism, endless outward reach and endless free parking.
One by one, those myths are bursting into flame. We are running out of land, housing, water, road space and now electricity. Fixing all this requires systemic change, but we aren't up to the task.
Finally, someone else is sounding off about the need for a sweeping,
systemic fix to our overall way of life. Now we must come together and prove him wrong regarding his conclusion of our not being "up to the task."
In that piece, I discussed how we can become complacent as we get busy working on a plethora of initiatives, the sum of which will almost certainly not be enough to save our species. That's why we must have an extensive, big picture, conceptual design if we wish to maximize our chances for longterm survival.
Sometimes it's best to start the design process completely from scratch. Developing a master plan for our future civilization should begin with an intense, unprecedented global conversation regarding a future, ultra-green civilization capable of coexisting in harmony with nature indefinitely.
To help grasp that concept, consider the fact none of today's six billion adults (over 18) will be living in 2100. We, the three or four generations who created the mess, will be gone (or very feeble) - thereby saddling the billions who follow us with the impossible task of trying to fix our mess. But by then, it will be too late.
The future of today's children begins with an urgently needed conversation now! Let's not let them down.
"Conversation" (Webster) two definitions:
- An oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas
- An informal discussion of an issue by representatives of governments, institutions, or groups
For the record, I was never so naïve as to think that any of my own ideas would ever be implemented. The sole aim for all of them, as expressed in many SOS Memos has been to help spark that global conversation about the need to totally reinvent our civilization - with the primary focus being the minimization of human interference with the natural world.
I used the acronyms GRATOLA (Green Region Atlanta to L.A.) and GBN (Great Big Northern) to provide simple "visuals"
of what might be possible - for people of all ages around the globe.
But now, thirteen months after my original GRATOLA post, the silence about this topic is deafening. I am hearing no significant "
about the necessity of totally reinventing the way we live on this planet.
Of course, I also realize that many good things have happened in the global green movement during those thirteen months. Notably, young Greta Thunberg first appeared on the world stage at the COP 24 climate conference in Poland in December of 2018, then at the World Economic Forum in Davos and most recently speaking truth to power at the UN Climate Conference in New York.
While all that was happening with Greta, the Extinction Rebellion began its meteoric rise to global name recognition. They, and many others, have done a great job of promoting the global awareness of our desperate situation but, once again, that critically-needed global conversation about an ultra-sustainable civilization in our future - is still missing.
Fortunately, attitudes are beginning to change. This quote, from a 10-28-19 NY Times piece about XR, illustrates the ultimate necessity of reexamining every single aspect of how we live on this planet.
You cannot walk into a supermarket, fill up your tank or put on a winter coat without getting blood on your hands. We are all embedded in a civilization that wreaks havoc on the planet.
Now, we only have eleven.
As for progress under the category of doing good things for the planet, I should mention that there are some powerfully influential people like Bill and Melinda Gates who have tackled many noble projects, such as the ones related to the global sanitation dilemma and the eradication of polio. But I've heard of no such well-funded projects that are focused on the essential "conversation" about how our future way of living can coexist in harmony with nature on this planet.
As for Bill and Melinda's wonderful contributions to humanity, check out this two-minute trailer for the 2018 Netflix documentary series, "Inside Bill's Brain." It is an awesome example of how the combination of enough determination, imagination and money can lead to a whole new way of thinking about the thorniest issues we face.
While I applaud the efforts of good-hearted philanthropists and green leaders everywhere, I have grave concerns that their collective efforts will ultimately be a case of too little, too late when it comes to saving humanity.
Why so grim? To put it simply, there is no "big picture" vision, blueprint or plan
for how we can feasibly transform our society into one capable of surviving and thriving in harmony with nature.
And with no such vision even being discussed, the many thousands of
improvement ideas and initiatives will likely be implemented willy-nilly, if at all, and will ultimately fail to deliver the harmony with nature that we all seek - and that nature demands.
Starting with a "vision" of what is possible
Explaining my thinking. My 40-year career as an engineer, process-improvement consultant and corporate executive included lots of data gathering and analysis of all of the relevant issues before taking action. In other words, we always had a "big picture" plan before we started making changes.
And due to that background, I have trouble believing that, in a world with 195 countries and many thousands of sects and religions, we will ever be able to develop a set of living arrangements that will be acceptable to Mother Nature without having an upfront vision of how that might work.
When the conversation about developing that big picture, global vision finally begins, I will feel a lot better about our future. But so far, there is no such conversation.
Case in point. It took 45 years and ten billion dollars to add three new stops to a single subway line in New York City. To go to such lengths for this massive project in a city that has a realistic chance of being underwater by 2100 simply makes no sense.
Now we're running out of time to get our act together and truly begin talking about a "big picture" vision of how ten billion people can live sustainably on this planet.
The Bottom Line.
I close this memo today with points similar to those that I have made before. With the Arctic Ocean on track to be ice-free within a few years, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
In the meantime, I fear that willy-nilly efforts costing trillions of dollars trying to rebuild infrastructures will distract us from carefully re-designing the kind of civilization that will ultimately be capable of co-existing in harmony with nature - indefinitely.
Sadly, without an urgent conversation on this most crucial of all topics, there is no vehicle for tapping into the unprecedented power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help us determine how we can rapidly transition from today's highly inefficient set of living arrangements to future arrangements that will be as green as possible.
Since no one knows how green is green enough, we must strive to design our future living arrangements to be even greener than
we think that Mother Nature is demanding - because we will not likely get a chance at a do-over.
Let's get that "BIG PICTURE" conversation started soon!
A Final Thought for the day
If this conversation doesn't begin in earnest soon, we of the generations born in the twentieth century will be remembered as the reckless humans who destroyed nature's ability to sustain us as a species - and, in so doing, left a horrible mess to those who were born in the 21st century - an innocent group that includes all of my grandchildren. And, at the rate we're going, there may very well be no 22nd century.
Hopefully, we can get that global conversation started soon and then move quickly to design and build the first prototype of a new civilization that will enable the youth of today to
live comfortable and meaningful lives in complete harmony with nature.
Finally, it is my fervent wish that someday those young people will be able to forgive us 20th century fools for passing along such a huge mess for them to solve.
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
PS: You may be wondering what you can do to help. You can get me in front of some audiences that you think might be ready to hear more about the all-important global "conversation" that is so desperately needed.
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 will create a custom presentation for each audience and I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.
In the 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 fifty 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.