Keeping Informed No 6.

Blog No 6.  For release on 1st January 2020

Given the fall of fortnightly intervals, I am happy to post this newsletter on the first day of the New Year. The two hyperlinks below, justify serious contemplation that might be incompatible with a working week.

For anyone, who has chosen to accept a leadership role in helping humanity escape from the energy and associated traps that it has stumbled into, the coherent article by N.J.Hagens, first posted in Ecological Economics, is helpful reading.

A vanguard of the population has noticed that humanity has entered a prison cell and is in fully-justified despair that the door is about to slam shut behind them. The immediate reaction is to scrabble at the door and shout at the warders. Such street-actions do at least serve notice to the powers that be that their decisions are noticed and objected to. However, such protests are in themselves, insufficient to keep the door from final closure.

A single–cell, brainless, colonising slime

!

Hagen describes humanity as a superorganism without a brain: as a giant, mutant, brainless amoeba, genetically programmed for perpetual growth. It is fast blocking out the light from all other life in the garden. As the human amoeba depends on the diversity and vibrancy of that garden for its nourishment, unless its mindless growth is curtailed, it will perish.

The amoeba needs to reprogramme itself. To do that, it must first activate the embryonic brain that already exists somewhere within its monstrous flesh. A reformed United Nations Organisation, newly empowered to send undeniable commands to the peripheries of the whole quivering bio-mass, is urgently called for.

Dire straits call for a dire response. If the UN proves impervious to reform, then we have to revert to Buckminster Fuller’s dictum “You never fight things by changing the existing reality. To change something , build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800919310067#   60 minute read.

In pursuit of economic growth, modern human culture appears as a self-organized, mindless, energy seeking Superorganism, functioning in similar ways to a brainless amoeba using simple tropisms…

The real challenge will begin when growth ends. Eventually, we likely face a global depression and other challenging departures from our recent trajectory. Those who understand and care about these things, who have social support, a modicum of resources, and psychological health, have to step up. This is not a time to minimize our individual impact, which only makes us a smaller part of 1/8-billionth of the Superorganism. Those who understand, need to be effective at larger scales. We need to maximize our impact during this liminal space for Homo sapiens. The answers now are at least as much social as they are technical….

A bunch of mildly clever, highly social apes broke into a cookie jar of fossil energy and have been throwing a party for the past 150 years. The conditions at the party are incompatible with the biophysical realities of the planet. The party is about over and when morning comes, radical changes to our way of living will be imposed. Some of the apes must sober up (before morning) and create a plan that the rest of the party-goers will agree to. But mildly clever, highly social apes neither easily nor voluntarily make radical changes to their ways of living. And so coffee and stimulants (credit, etc.) will be consumed during another lavish breakfast, but with the shades drawn. It’s morning already...”

In Kate Raworth’s landmark book “Doughnut Economics,” she proposes that the current universally adopted and planet-suffocating capitalist, neo-liberal model of a national and global economy be discarded. She dismisses the current dead-end, mechanistic, model, based solely on the interaction of business and the isolated greedy individual, self-interested consumer. She urges this meme’s urgent replacement by a far more complex view of the economy as an ecological system involving interaction between the human household, the state, the commons and business.

This article by Joe Cederwall, the editor of Scoop, concentrates on the commons and cooperatism as  the direction in which remedial social action is called for. Bearing in mind Hagen’s reminder that each reader of this article represents no more than 1/8 of a billionth of the problem, we have to cooperate on as large a scale as we can manage.

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1911/S00063/hope-for-nature-a-new-deal-for-the-commons.htm  A sea-change in our current mind-set. 20 minute read.

I’ll take this opportunity to do a promo for Scoop. For readers not already familiar with Scoop www.scoop.co.nz it is an NZ media outlet well worth all the support that can be spared. Totally independent and reliant on subscriptions from users of its free news service who wish to pay for additional service, it should be the first ‘go-to’ site for voluntary rganisations wishing to make a press release to the NZ public.

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