From Rio to Rio with Kyoto, Copenhagen and Durban in between, the conclusion remains the same: There is fundamental disagreement on the realities of this planet and the ways we can address them.
A decisive breakthrough would necessitate both wider contexts and a larger participatory base to identify problems, to formulate policies, to broaden and to synchronize our actions. Luminaries from the world of science, philosophy, religion, culture and sports have been invited to each of these major gatherings. But, they – as usual – have served as side-events panelists, while only the politicians make decisions. Who in politics is sincerely motivated for the long-range and far reaching policies? This does not pay off politically as such policies are often too complex and too time-consuming to survive the frequency and span of national elections as well as the taste or comprehension of the median voter.
Our global crisis is not environmental, financial or politico-economic. Deep and structural, this is a crisis of thought, a recession of courage, of our ideas, all which leads us into a deep, moral abyss. Small wonder, there was very little headway made at the 2012 Rio Summit.
Between the fear that the inevitable will happen and the lame hope that it still wouldn’t, we have lived… That what can be and doesn’t have to be, at the end, surrenders to something that was meant to be…
Is Greece (or Spain) lagging 20 years behind the rest of the EU or is Greece today well ahead of the rest of the continent, which will face a similar fate two decades from now? Beyond the usual political rhetoric, this is the question that many circles in Europe and elsewhere are discreetly, but thoroughly discussing. In a larger context, the intriguing intellectual debates are heating up. Issues are fundamental: Why has science converted into religion? (Practiced economy is based on the over 200-years old liberal theory of Adam Smith and the over 300-years old philosophy of Hobbes and Locke– basically, frozen and rigidly canonized into a strict exegesis. Scientific debate has been replaced by a blind obedience to old dogmas.) Why has religion been transformed into confrontational political doctrine (holy scripts are misinter-preted and ideologically misused in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Africa)? Why have (secular or theological) ethics been turned from bio-centric comprehension into anthropocentric environmental egotism and ignorance (treating nature as property, rather than a coherent system that contextualizes our very life)? Why – despite all our research studies, institutions and instruments – are our inequalities and exclusions widening? Why has freedom been reduced to a lame here-us-now choice to consume? Why does the achieved degree of our economic development and stage of our technological advancement not enable society for self-realization? To the contrary, our democracies are in retreat, our visions are exhausted and self-confidence depleted, while the socio-cultural and political participatory base is thinning. After all, is Rio ahead of itself 20 years later?
The resonance of these vital debates is gradually reaching the public. No one can yet predict the range and scope of their responses, internally and externally. One thing is certain though: The simple mechanical transmission of global economic (and regional monetary) integration cannot be a substitute for any viable post-industrial, knowledge-based development strategy, scientific advancement or cultural endorsement. Even less so, it can substitute for any social cohesion and the cross-generational contract, environmental needs (including the biocapacity and biodiversity), or maintaining general public mental and physical health.
(Tao) Creek, not only Greek
By roughly summing up the data provided by the World Bank and OECD, the world’s gross annual output is somewhere between €85 and 95 trillions (thousand billions). Servicing of different loans and related interest rates to public and private debts, per annum, cumulatively costs this planet some € 195 to 210 trillions. In simple terms, it means we produce 1, but owe 2 to the different credit institutions. How can it be that year after year we work harder and harder, but are still becoming socio-economically poorer and culturally pauperized, while generational accounting gives us a worrying future prospect? Is our environmental situation any better? By applying the same data’s ecological footprint ratios, mankind annually extracts from the ecosystem the biomatter and minerals for 1, out of which only 10% end up as a final product, but at the same time we pollute waters, land, air and near outer space with non-degradable and/or toxic, solid or aerosol, particles and noise for 2. Despite all the purifiers, cleaners, separators, distillations, silencers and filters, our surroundings are becoming filthier and filthier. Does this earn the right to be called ‘development’ at all? Over centuries, especially in the last decades, we indeed intensified, rationalized and optimized our economic activities as well as related technologies and information flows, but could it be that despite our push with the right intensity, the overall direction of that push is wrong?
To answer these simply-worded but questions of sensitive and complex (selfhood) meaning, we definitely have to enlarge the context. For that sake, let’s return to Greece.
First, a few words about a term in frequent common use: cosmos. The expression cosmos itself is of Greek origins (κόσμος) and means: a harmony, perfect order, and is opposite to the Greek word khaos/chaos (χάος), which means: confusion, disorder, asynchrony (also an unordered and formless primordial mass or even nothingness). The fascinating classic-Greek mythology thoroughly describes the creation of the world, as an event marked by the final victory of the forces of cosmos over the forces of chaos. It is a thrilling ancient text, marvelous in its beauty and symbolism.
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life…”
In the modern scientific and philosophical (or astronomic, esoteric and theological) sense, the word cosmos should describe (a dependent origination of) everything (of the manifested, comprehensible and visible universe as well as the non-comprehensible potentiality and invisible universes/multiverse) that nature and/or God has created. As everything that has been, is and will ever be conceived as a time–space, matter–energy (with all the properties and all their conceivable aggregate states/stages, elevations and degrees), particle – wave-function (consciousness-information), cosmos is nature and/or God itself. It isall that ever begins (from), lasts (with/in) and ends in (returns to) the quantum field.
Contemporary astrophysics claims that the known or comprehensible universe is expanding, still being powered by the quantum event generally referred to in literature as the big-bang (or perhaps the Higgs Boson particle recently reviled by CERN). Up to now, there is no general consensus of the scientific community on what is the property (nature) of the invisible, inter-stellar and inter-galactic space (dark matter). However, it is certain that the visible stellar universe is mainly composed of two elements only: helium and hydrogen. Thus, stars – this backbone of the universe – are predominantly (to 99%) made of these two elements. Tantalizingly enough, the colony of progressing biped primates, while evenly spreading over this planet, has developed a strong technological, civilizational and physiological culture of addiction to a completely other element: carbon.
Earth is practically bathing in immense spectrums of sun-rays. This solar radiation that our star supplies above us is essentially an infinite source of energy. The core of our mother planet is still kinetically and thermally very active, meaning that humans in fact sit atop a source of inexhaustible energy provided by the gravitational, magnetic and seismic events and enormous residual geothermal heat of the Earth.
How did we – advanced civilization – miss this? Residing between two infinite energy aggregators, how did we end up with hydrocarbons – with the carbonized remains of passed life? How did we end up tapping just a thin upper lithosphere and keep obsessively digging and drilling for fossil fuels? How did we develop this necrophilic obsession? How did we manage to focus our human and economic development on carbons, and steadily develop the so-called ‘technologies’ that apparently take us right into a collision course with the universe and with everything that surrounds our biosphere? Why do we keep mankind enveloped in an exhausting competition and dangerous confrontation over a tiny, finite portion of fossilized carbons situated beneath the surface of our habitat? Finally, do we live cosmos or chaos?!
How did things go wrong in the first place? Evolutionarily, our 2-million-year history as hunters-gatherers – exposed to stark scarcities, rival gangs of humans and other predators, permanent seasonal oscillations, harsh climatic and topographic conditions, constituting an integral part of the natural food-chain – has taught us to observe things sequentially, horizontally, territorially, and linearly. Not cognitively. That’s how we (through the primor-dial mechanical solidarity of an endangered, insecure herd) learned to prolong our existence at the expense of other living creatures, even turning their fossilized remains into fuel.
“Get your kicks on Route 66…”
Admittedly, the way we are developing and deploying the anthropotechniques indicates that we did not manage to depart significantly from the central pre-cognitive challenge which we humans share with all other planetary forms of life – survival. Our central cognitive question, a quest that should largely distinguish us from all other living forms: What am I doing here?, or How can I bridge my past, my presence, with my future? – remains largely unanswered. Our ‘developmental’ palliatives are corrosive, autistic, particularized, aggressive, reactive, incoherent and harming for this planet and its life. Rigid in a dynamic environment, we are still captivated by the horizontalities of our insecure existence, all which conditioned our lower laying brain foundations throughout our 2-million-year long hominid history.
Anthropology usually differentiates homo sapiens (as an early, primitive hominine/homo) from homo sapiens sapiens (advanced, modern man). By relating our species to its ability to extract and consume calories with the help of different anthropotechniques (presently called technologies), we may roughly divide the hominid’s evolution in the following way:
- 2 million years/100.000/50.000 – 10.000 years ago: a low-energy-consumption (conservative-solar techniques) driven human race;
- 10.000 – 200 years ago: a medium-energy-consumption (hydraulic-agrarian, advanced-solar techniques) driven human race;
- 200 years ago (the event of the so-called industrial revolution) – nowadays: high-energy-consumption (hydrocarbon techniques) driven human race.
Nevertheless, by observing the dynamics within the human culture and ability of such a civilization to maintain a natural equilibrium with the organic and inorganic surroundings, we can make the following classification of history of our race:
- barbarians without technology (early humans) – no-to-moderate disturbance of the animalistic civilization, and then;
- ‘mobilized/progressed’ barbarians with interfering ‘technology’ (the so-called modern men) – excessive disturbance of the acultural civilization.
The irreversible extraction of crude that we falsely call ‘production’ of ‘black gold’ is simply a fallacy of myopic, lethal addiction. The anthropotechnique which is exclusively fixated on tapping a tiny portion of the lithosphere in search of fossil remains – and then combusting those remains to convert them into our prime energy source (with loads of collateral waste), is a barbarism per se, and can only be marked as ‘technology’.
Yet, the scope, depth and endurance of our anti-intellectual limbic ignorance and reptilian greed is so fascinating, as it is our fixation with the locality, with the territorial animal inside of us. Homo lupus ergo sum. Our cerebral cortex (big, upper brain) is still a hostage of the reptilian (lower part of our) complex, which keeps us in a disastrous and obsessive captivity of the lower brain-determined, linear, instinctive reflex to acquire ever large possessions of resources on the given territory. This here-us-now matrix deprives us of any ability to enlarge the perspective and to grant it relief of the coherent, consciousness-based, cognitive time-space dimension.
Hence, no wonder that we are paying a heavy endpoint price while still singing the self-assuring lullaby: save the environment! It is simply a misstatement: the environment will survive, we will be eliminated.
“Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…” – the Tao wisdom lost
That is how and where we set our obscure priorities: Ever perpetuated competition that keeps us in barbaric, reptilian confrontation over scarce resources, with the ‘technology’ which unstoppably emits greenhouse gasses, turning our earth into a planetary gas-chamber, on the way to a self-prepared global holocaust. Technology is not a state of arts (or science); technology is a state of mind!It is not a linear progression in mastering the natural science disciplines (alienating conservation), but rather acquiring a coherent cognitive and emphatic critical insight (liberating exploration). This ‘technology’ will turn into actual technology when –or better say– if our conscious, a self-actualizing, nonlinear, multidimensional and cluster-thinking capacitated upper brain finally takes a firm command over the reptilian, insecure, territorial, assertive, an eat-multiply-survive reflex/instinct-induced lower brain.
Following the outbreak of the still unsettled financial crisis, there is a growing anti-neoliberal sentiment. But, do not blame economy or (the dogmatic exegesis of) the credit institutions. It is yet another anthropotechnique enveloped in the human conscripts, in the codes of conducts devised on our long, indecisive and inconclusive evolutionary march. What is wrong is our perception, or better say the observer’s consideration spot, our cognitive departure point.
Why are we persistently projecting the circumstances that environmentally conditioned us two mil. years ago? Finite and depletable resources are something that our reptilian complex has gotten accustomed to in the lasting course of evolution. All our subsequent socio-economic fabrics, customs and normative orders, and politico-military constructs have been emotionally charged. Architectured around an emotional attachment, they have been the creation of a deep psychologization based on a fearful dependency over the horizontal and finite. We are the fear of scarcity– obsessed culture. Adequate social cohesion and mobilization as well as our overall comprehension of the infinite, renewable and inexhaustible, would require cognition. This –in turn– would mark an end of domination to the reptilian brain’s binary-mechanical and instinctively- imposed and maintained securitization and control.
So far, control itself remained the central solidifier of our civilizational vertical in managing the unpredictable and instable human (group or individual) dynamics. Fixation on finite resources and their consummation in controlled space and controlled time are the ties that bind the human culture – a social construct of psychologized securitization we conceive as comprehensible and permissible, therefore possible. Infinity eliminates the premium of control, and of mechanically-imposed and externally-induced coercive cohesion based on ever perpetuated competition and confrontation. An antidote to anxieties and seeds of fear, infinity eventually de-psychologizes and demonopolizes the reptilian command over our cognitivity.
Ergo, the grand mistake of our evolution is not an emergence of the cerebral cortex, our cent-ral problem is that the upper brain has developed to service and aid the reptilian complex with anthropotechniques (to be enslaved by it), not vice versa. For such a new evolutionary arrival, admittedly our species developed fast– as (limbic drive is possessive and) the reptilian binary-instinctive brain is highly efficient. Though efficient, it is not as far-reaching! Thus, today in Rio, as 20 years ago at the same place, we do face similar unsolvable dilemmas and grave, ever mounting, problems. Nowadays, we seemingly understand the obstacle– limits to growth. However, our limit is not (solely) territorial or linear, it is substantively cognitive. Living in a limbo of our unfinished evolution and our own denial of it: We overused all life-contents around us that we plainly borrowed from the future past, while we overlook all the time what we do have (with us) in our past future. Simply, there is far more to learn about ourselves from our long unrecorded chapters of history then from the times we started to keep records.
“Tomorrow Never Dies”
In his famous speech of 1944, Max Planck spelled out something that philosophy, religion, astronomy and physics were indicating ever since the classic Greeks (or to be precise, since the ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts). It laid down the foundation, not only of quantum physics but also, of the so-called Unified Theory of Everything (TOE) as well as the (Coherent key to) Secrets of Creation. Moreover, it rejuvenated and reaffirmed many of the Buddhist Tantric perspectives, especially the metaphysical visions contained within the Yogacara, as well as one of paticcasamuppada – the so-called dependent non-directional origination.
Hence, if one of the newest TOEs postulated by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow is correct – that the quantum universe, as a self-excited circuit, tends to create meaning and that the observers are part of the system – than the cosmos self-actualizes itself. It concludes that, as the universe evolves, enabling organization to emerge, our consciousness creates the universe/multiverse. If so, it leads to a self-actualization of us in cosmos too, as then the fundamental nature of reality should be a comprehensive and coherent self-perception.
This TOE would then suppose our constant mastering of arts, which is not a ‘technology’ that preserves status quo, but is a technology that opens, liberates and expands. How can the carbon–addicted culture of fragile and insecure, but here-us-now assertive and corrosive bipeds, whose overall dynamics are largely determined by the binary (fight-flight, consume-abandon) actions of the reptilian complex consciously project an intelligent universe predominantly composed of helium and hydrogen in all its immensity?
The answer is easier than it seems at first glance. It goes back to one of the most intriguing questions of both philosophy and astronomy: Is there any life out there?
Neither the very peripheral position of our solar system within the stellar cluster of the Milky Way, nor a remote place of our galaxy in the known cosmos would indicate any centrality, any exclusivity of and monopoly over conscious life to us. Ergo, if such a periphery can sustain a variety (constancy) of life forms and development of cognitive brains, then the rest of the universe must simply flourish in intelligent life – this is the only logical explanation.
While being everyone and having everything, all the rest of the immense cosmic intelligence self-actualizes and projects the solar equilibrium, a coherent helium-hydrogen-manifested and as such illuminated universe. It is simply waiting for us – to succeed or fail in departing from the self-imposed asymmetries, scarcities, convulsions, disharmonies and imbalances created by having fossilized fuel – in our attempt to return back to our pre-carbon, solar Tao future.
We’ll either combust ourselves to death or finally comprehend the inevitability of the obvious – of our cosmic being, as there is no having without being, and there is no being without or against universe. After all, there is no world of things without or on expenses of cosmos of life. This requires a resolute departure from the primordial hunter-gatherer attitude, and decisive deployment of our cognitivity. Chaos or cosmos – a simple choice.
Epilogue, not far away from Rio
“…Deep in the rainforests of the Amazon, the Achuar and the Huaorani Indians are assembled for their daily ritual. Every morning, each member of the tribe awakens before dawn, and once gathered together in that twilight hour, as the world explodes into light, they share their dreams. This is not simply an interesting pastime, an opportunity for storytelling: to the Achuar and the Huaorani, the dream is owned not by the dreamer alone, but collectively by the group, and the individual dreamer is simply the vessel the dream decided to borrow to have a conversation with the whole tribe.
The tribes view the dream as a map for their wakening hours. It is a forecaster of what is to come for all of them. In dreams they connect with their ancestors and the rest of the universe. The dream is what is real. It is their waking life that is a falsehood…”
This article is an integral version of the key-note speech to be presented at the 11th International E – Forum (Int. Innovation and Entrepreneurship Exposition), 03–06 September 2012, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Andric, I. (1982), Bosnian Chronicle, Harvill Press London (Travnicka Hronika, originally published 1945)
- The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992), UN CED – Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, 1992
- The UN CSD/Rio+20 Prep Documents Set including the UNEP and UN Sec-G. consolidated Reports (2011-12)
- Sileitsch, H. (2012), In zwanzig Jahren sind wir alle Griechen, Wiener Zeitung – Austria (page: 1, 3 and 25-26)
- Veenhoven, R. (2009) World Database of Happiness, Studies in Social and Cultural Transformation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
- World Bank (2012), World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development, WB Publications
- OECD (2012), OECD Economic Outlook (Preliminary Version, May 2012), OECD Publications
- IEA (2012), World Energy Outlook 2012 – Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas, OECD – IEA Publications
- WWF, GFp, IoZ and ESA (2012), Living Planet: Biodiversity, biocapacity and better choices, Report 2012
- Sagan, C. (1980), Cosmos Random House, NY /Carl Sagan Productions Inc.
- Bajrektarevic, A. (2002), Environmental Ethics /Anthropo-techniques/, Lectures/Students Reader, Vienna (IMC University Krems), Austria
- Mumford, L. (1970), The Myth of the Machine – Pentagon of Power (Technics and Human Development Vol.2), Mariner Books (Ed. 1974)
- Ibn Khaldûn (1398), Muqddimah – al-Kitābu l-ʻibār (the Prolegomenon – An Introduction to History), Princeton University Press (Ed. 1967)
- Engels, F. (1972), The Origin of The Family, Private Property and the State, Penguin Classics (Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats, fist published in 1884, Hottingen–Zürich)
- Spencer, H. (1855), A System of Synthetic Philosophy (Principles of Biology, Psychology and Sociology), Brighton (6th Edition, 1900), Obscure Press
- Campanella T. (1623), Civitas Solis (The City of the Sun), SBF Genoa (1919) La città del Sole: Utopia alla ricerca della felicità o incubo totalitario?, Nabu Edizioni
- Bryson, B. (2004), A Short History of Nearly Everything, Broadway Books
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- Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J.A. (2012), Why Nations Fail – The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Crown Publishing New York
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- Hawking, S. & Mlodinow, L. (2010), The Grand Design: New Answers to the Ultimate Question of Life, Bantam Books
- Talbot, D. and Thornhill, W. (2007), The Electric Universe, Mikamar Publishing
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Taken from Bosnian Chronicle by Ivo Andric, the 1961 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.
For example, one of the eldest world dailies, Wiener Zeitung published since 1703, brings a cover page with the following title “In zwanzig Jahren sind wir alle Griechen” (In 20 years we will all be Greeks). WZ, 10 March 2012.
The innovative, pioneer work of prof. Veenhoven (from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam) on the World Database of Happiness is chronically underfunded ever since established in 1998, although representing an extraordinary and indispensible research of its kind. In his unique narrative of 1972, the 4th King of Bhutan (Jigme Singye Wangchuck) reaffirmed the centuries old national code of conduct: “if the government cannot create happiness (dekid) for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist”. Thus, the concept of the GNH (Gross National Happiness) is even embedded in the Bhutan’s constitution (Article 9) as an alternative to the generally practiced GDP. This fact is largely ignored by practitioners and academia. Seems, as if nobody in today’s world is interested in pursuit of happiness.
Tao (Chinese 道; pinyin) literary means ‘The Path’. In the larger context of ancient Chinese thought, it catalyzed the LaoTze-an foundation of the later philosophical and religious/esoteric conscripts.
Some 20 years ago, the value of overall global financial transactions was 12 times the entire world’s gross annual product. By the end of 2011, it was nearly 70 times as big.
E.g. There is not a single peer-reviewed international journal that has published even one scientific article in the last 30 years which reports on factual evidences that any organic (marine and continental biota) or inorganic (soil, glaciers, water, polar caps, etc) system is doing better on this planet. There has not been a single RE or UN report in the last 30 years that credibly denies a worrying increase in severity and frequency of “natural” catastrophes worldwide. Finally, there is not a single internationally recognized medical journal that has not been constantly reporting on an alarming increase in skin-cancers, respiratory and allergy related diseases for the past 30 years. (To put aside the alarming studies on the severe impact of the so-called video media entertainment on the early neurological development of children and the overall mental and physical health of youth – as none of these games is either evolutionary or bio-neurologically justified for a proper development of the child’s cerebral cortex.) Hence, all the planetary systems are in retreat; drifting, decomposing, malfunc-tioning, rarifying, and vanishing. Instead of a resolute action to change our dangerous patterns, the only self-assuring comfort comes from our ignorance and anti-intellectual urge to escapism (by waiting for a while and then offering more of the same).
Ancient Chinese Mandarin translates the word ‘cosmos’ as yuzhou (宇宙). Astonishingly precise, even for Einstein’s relativity, this literally means space–time (宇yu– space & 宙zhou– time). Indeed, observing skies above us is always both a space and a time travel. While the most of modern European languages use either Greek (cosmos) or Latin (universe) word, Southern Slavs have nearly esoteric term svemir (Russian вселенная): ‘omnipresent tranquility’ (sve – overall/total, mir – peace, harmony).
Taken from Stevie Wonder’s song: ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ (1973).
Or as Sagan writes: ‘The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.’ /Carl Sagan, Cosmos (page, nr.4)/.
According to the WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the solar energy reaching the earth surface by far exceeds the global energy production of mankind – over 20,000 times. That means that our PEM (primary energy mix) has to provide us with the current amounts for 20,000 consecutive years to reach the scale of what solar radiation supplies us with annually, all for free!!
We falsely believed, throughout the 20th century, that the nuclear holocaust will put an end to the entire human race. No! It will be a slow, nearly-unnoticed, gradual but steady construction of the global gas chamber – of the troposphere filled by the green-house gas emissions. Certainly, no other species on this planet are both biotrophic and necrotrophic, at the same time highly corrosive. Hence, the way we extract, produce, transport, distribute and consume, the way we keep all this running on a blind obedience to fossil hydrocarbons, and finally the way how we do reflect, contemplate and study on all that, inevitably takes us right into the environmental holocaust.
It seems that the latest discoveries on the dynamics of property are indicating that the photosynthesis (a fundamental process of biology that creates life on the bottom of the food-chain. By capturing carbon dioxide, it supplies the upper echelons of this chain with a released oxygen and provides a carbon-hydrate caloric food) is powered by the quantum event. Consequently, a new discipline – quantum biology by words of Graham Fleming, a physical/biodynamics chemist – suggests ‘that the quantum mechanical effect might be the key to the ability of green plants, through photosynthesis, to almost instantly transfer stellar/solar energy from molecules in light harvesting complexes to molecules in electrochemical reaction centers.’ This simply means that electrons quantumly test out all available paths and ‘choose’ the most efficient one. It represents an almost conscious decision in which a quantum mechanical exploration is conducted, and then also quantum mechanically the most accurate pathway is selected to do the instant and highly efficient transfer.
Taken from Nat Kings Cole’s song: ‘Route 66’(1946), written by Bobby Troup.
In such a constellation the cerebral cortex is reduced to only service the territoriality of reptilian (lower) brains. Evolution-wise, humans are – like other mammals – social animals, but also territorial: An areal presence on certain territory, humans are historically linking to its very survival. Traditionally, it was not much of the cognitively-induced transcendent dimension – morality, but far more simply an instinctive fear of conflicting territorial claim of rivals, which kept humans from uncontrolled maximization of territorial (and any other) claim. These are the origins of our everlasting grand-fascinations with fences, borders, demarcation lines, exclusion zones, buffer belts, frontiers, boundaries and related sorts of divisions, particularizations, differentiations, sectarianism, gaps, cleavages and separations.
The eldest layer of our brains structure, the so-called reptilian complex is a center of our instincts – reproduction and survival (something we share with most other animals). The limbic system – the second evolutionary arrival, according to neuroscience – is a center of emotions. The last to emerge, the upper brain – neocortex/cerebral cortex, by far the largest segment of our brains, is a center of our cognitivity, of reason. While emotions and reason are complex (therefore slow and sometimes inaccurate), the instincts are highly efficient, fast and accurate as they operate on the binary-code fight-or-flight principle without thinking and feeling or recalling previous experiences. It is therefore characterized as: cold and rigid, calculative and insecure, territorial and assertive, greedy and ignorant, hierarchical and opportunistic. Environmentally conditioned from its first formation days on, the Reptilian brain is efficient, but is not far-reaching! Driven by the grab-consume-run (fear-anger complex), it strikingly opposes cognitivity (exploration complex) – human autonomy, self-actualization, empathic solidarity, coherence, mastery, virtue and purpose – all of which are centered in cerebral cortex. (Put into the language of state organs: lower brain would be the armed forces – capacitated with the rapid response, and the upper brains would be a parliament – with the time consuming and tedious, consensual and multilayer procedures, but of far-reaching deliberations).
As anthropotechniques, we should assume the (precognitive and) conscious clustering of different experiences, knowledges, discoveries, patents and the like; its practical application in any human activity (including all modes of horizontal and vertical transmission) aimed at acquiring resources for consumption in space and time by variety of tools and weaponry. As the only compensation for the biological and neurological limitations of humans (inferior to other forms of life on the planet), the anthropotechniques were answering the central pre-cognitive concern of humans: Survival! This is a self-coined definition that for years I use in my lectures on the Institutions and Instruments of Sustainable Development (chapter: Environmental ethics). As such, the definition is extensive enough to describe the event of first usage of the sharp stone/broken bone by early homo faber all the evolutionary way to the development and deployment of the nuclear bomb.
If we observe the exponential growth in hydrocarbon consumption over the last 150 years, the very amplitude of the demographic growth will follow it with astonishing complementarity over the same period. The conclusion is interesting: past the industrial age, humans have become ‘grand alchemists’ (to use the expression of thinkers like David Suzuki and Wes Jackson), turning fossilized hydrocarbons into human biomass.
The life of plants and animals converted by the geomorphologic action of earth (forces that are enabled by the cosmos, in general and the sun of our mono-stellar system, in particular) into oil-gas-coal has been possible ONLY due to a hydrogen-helium generated solar energy. Our fossil-carbon originated energy is only the carbon-sequestrated stellar energy stored in the past! Tapped, released and combusted today, it punishes its colony of advanced bipeds – us, as parasites – with a lot of smoke. It is actually a message from our solar past sent to our solar future: if we eliminate the pre-Cambrian caloric intermediary between us and energy in our anti-solar presence, clear radiant skies full of sun will (re-) appear right above us. Maybe above said sounds esoteric, yet it is not a less accurate and authentic finding.
Annotated from my recent writings, it states as following: “…the main problem with Green/Renewable (de-carbonized) energy is not the complexity, expense, or the lengthy time-line for fundamental technological breakthrough; the central issue is that it calls for a major geopolitical breakthrough. Oil and gas are convenient for monopolization (of extraction location and deployed machinery, as well as of international flows, of pricing and consumption modes) – it is a physical commodity of specific locality. Any green technology (not necessarily of particular location or currency) sooner or later will be de-monopolized, and thereby made available to most, if not to all… Ergo, oil (and gas) represents far more than energy. Petroleum…is a socio-economic, psychological, cultural, financial, security and politico-military construct, a phenomenon of civilization that architectures the world of controllable horizontalities which is currently known to, possible and permitted, therefore acceptable for us.(Geopolitics of Technology and the Hydrocarbon Status Quo /Why Kyoto Will Fail Again/, Geopolitics of Energy, 34 (1), CERI Canada 2012)
Taken from Janis Joplin’s song: ‘Mercedes Benz’(1970).
We are even celebrating this gas-chamber: note the title of the recently released annual energy report of the IEA (International Energy Agency): Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas… Golden Age of Gas! (For our global Auschwitz!) Seriously?
Something that accelerates our disconnection with both oneself and the rest (be it via diverting banalities of ads, ‘entertainment’, social media, ‘infotainment’ or other sorts of enormous noise), making us ever more alienated, insecure and self-destructive cannot be referred as a technology that serves the enhancement of mankind.
Contextualizing a well-known argument of ‘defensive modernization’ of Fukuyama along with Kissinger’s ‘confrontational nostalgia’, it is to state that throughout the entire human history a technological drive was aimed to satisfy the security (and control) objective; and it was rarely (if at all) driven by a desire to ease human existence or to enhance human emancipation and liberation of societies at large. Thus, unless operationalized by the system, both intellectualism (human autonomy, mastery and purpose), and technological breakthroughs were traditionally felt and perceived as a threat.
No surprise that we are cannibalizing our future by sacrificing our youth (with massive unemployment, pollutions and other extended debts) to please the shadowy but omnipotent Credit Rating Agencies, while we have never contemplated creation of the Moral Rating Agency.
Thus, self-imprisoned in fallacy of such a cosmic disharmony, we must look so pathetic by standing alone against the immensity of this omnipotent and ultrarich universe.
The highly intriguing theory (supported by the extensive geological evidences including the bacteriological analysis of deep-laying hydrocarbons) about the abiotic nature of oil and its practically infinite recreation in the lower geological formations of earth was presented some 20 years ago. These findings were quickly dismissed, and the theory itself largely ignored and forgotten. The same happened with the highly elaborate plans of Nikola Tesla to exploit a natural geo-electrical phenomenon for the wireless transfers of high energy for free. Why? Infinity eliminates the premium of deeper psychologisation, as it does not necessitate any emotional attachment – something abundantly residing in nature cannot efficiently mobilize our present societies.
Or, in the words of Prof. Murray Hunter: “…And this is the other fallacy that we have been deceived by. In our wonderment of this great technology that elevated humankind to the level of god, we missed the major ingredient that technology requires. Technology without “knowing” is useless, if not dangerous. Like little boys with new toys we have played with fireworks without thinking of the consequences. And yes we burnt our hands – so stupidly, without even ‘knowing’ it… Science and technology is really about making us see and we have failed to understand that. We have blindly used it along the singular paradigm that we think we understand…We need to admit that some things are beyond our instinctive and limbic capability.” (Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurship–A Meta Theory, M.H. 2011)
Consequently, the Euro-crisis or any other financial/debt crisis – for that matter – is only a construct of our mental projection as it is not founded anywhere in the deeper layers of reality. Linear insecurity- and uncertainty-focused as a solely horizontally perceiving, conflicting and interfering, scarcity securitization and control-obsessed, dependency-fixated culture cannot simply evolve into a liberating society or anything else coherent and harmonious. On the contrary, it will tend to deepen the existing and extend the projected confrontational horizontalities as it will maximize the psychologization of dependences. Cognitive mind (equilibrium/cosmos) vs. reptilian complex (balance of fear/chaos)! The very epilogue of the financial crisis seems to be only the redistribution of dependencies and enhanced control, not at all steering up the nations to a well-being, to a self-realization. If the elected democratic governments are reluctant to be instrumented to this end, Politbureau of the non-elected apparatchiks will eagerly finalize the unfinished. Therefore, we even interpret the very word ‘crisis’ falsely. This term has a dual meaning: ‘hardship’ (fear-anger) as well as ‘opportunity’ (exploration-liberation). Opportunity per definition will always challenge the established status quo, but that thought usually disfranchises, discourages and disengages us. Example? Since the reporting on the Greek/Euro sovereign debt crisis has started, how many words related to a change or opportunity have you heard (e.g. solidarity, creativity, initiative, job creation, action, broader consensus, vision, rethinking, bravery, dignity, self-respect, trust, virtue), and how many words related to a paralyzing status-quo (e.g. monetization, toxic assets, fiscal discipline, austerity measures, monetary control, budgetary straitjacket, debt instruments, general savings, conditionality strengthening, concerns intensified, budget cuts, downgrading, social haircut, withheld guaranties, massive default, tightening the financial screws, consumer confidence, record low, collapse prevention)? For a cognitive mind, a period of crisis is not the time to seed fear, to save, back off and wait, but to spend, to grant a freedom of initiative, to fully mobilize and largely engage fresh ideas and all other human resources. After all, one entity is in a decline when it reacts to the risks, far more than it acts on opportunities. This simple wisdom has nothing to do with the so-called economy; it is merely a question of perception. Finally, freedom will only surface when/ if the cognitive (coherent) mind retrieves it from the fundamental level of reality. That is why Q-physics (Buddhist or Tao wisdom) matters.
Paraphrasing the title of the James Bond action movie of 1997, written by B.J. Feirstein and directed by R. Spottiswoode.
“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force…We must assume behind this force existence of a consciousness and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” Max Planck, Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), Florence, 1944. At about the same time our joy for the ‘defensive modernization’ peaked with the mastering of the atomic bomb: the nuclear (weapon) age. Deeper implications and meanings of the quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, bioelectric medicine or neurocybernetics’ research of ganzfeld, for our understanding of and our engagement with the process of reality (and selfhood), were disregarded, marginalized and nearly forgotten.
One of the fundamental laws of quantum physics says that an event in the subatomic world exists in all possible states until the act of observing or measuring it “freezes” that, or pins it down, to a single state. This process is technically known as the collapse of the wave function, where wave function means the state of all possibilities. Hence, the subatomic world can behave either as particles (precise things with a set location in space) or waves (diffuse and unbounded regions of influence which can flow through and interfere with other waves).
E.g. an electron is not a precise entity, but exists as a potential, a superposition, or sum, of all probabilities until we observe or measure it, at which point the electron freezes into a particular state. Once we are through looking or measuring, the electron dissolves back into the either of all possibilities. That means that reality must results from some elaborate interaction of consciousness with its environment.
It’s absolutely astonishing that the ancient Sanskrit texts describe quantum vacuum and zero-point of the quantum field – by term sunya. This word should be interpreted as describing a cosmic seed of nothingness, which (hanging in a limbo of non-experience) is swollen by potentiality – an egg of infinite potentiality or shunyata on a brink to burst into a deep infinite-dimensional sea of manifestation/s. No wonder that the arithmetic sign for zero (that the rest of us took from Hindus) is actually an egg-shape, the same one called ‘origin’ in geometry to mark the center or beginning of a coordinate plane.
Esoteric teachings of paticcasamuppada are considered a core of Buddhism. Applying the extensive philosophical interpretation to this teaching, it remarkably fits to the astrophysical theory of the so-called dependent origination, as it well supports basic laws of both quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology (a self-organizing system in an ever self-expanding dynamic, non-directional but dialectic, equilibrium).
Sharing this anthropic viewpoint that the quantum wavefunction of the primordial meaningless universe stands on the very edge of time-space and meaning, and that the collapse of the wavefunction (an inception of cosmos) marks materialization of previously shapeless, non-experienced potentiality (that becomes possibility, an experienced classical event, by action of consciousness), Henry Stapp describes potentiality-consciousness as: ‘the two-way quantum psycho-physical bridge’. Conclusively, if we are to identify the meeting ground for the comprehensive and lasting reconciliation between science and religion, we must further investigate ‘Stapp’s bridge’.
It would correspond to the Buddhist expression karma (usually misinterpreted in the West by reducing it to a lame moral conscript). The word karma has far more extensive meaning in Buddhism and should be understood as an (intractable) action which leaves an informational imprint in all deeper levels of realities which can be activated at some future point in time. Hence, this self-synthesizing universe paradigm of quantum physics fully corresponds with the Buddhist Yogacara assumption that all perceptions do leave traces which make future similar perceptions more probable/plausible – origins of the potentialities within the quantum realm. This is why mankind kept practicing a prayer.
Vedas describes it as siddhis – psychic event (comes after profound meditative states) when the meditator experiences a feeling of omni-scient knowing – a sense of seeing everywhere at once (a state of illuminating darkness, of superrich nothingness); or when the subject enters a state of unity with the single object being focused upon (sometimes followed by a psychokinetic effect: levitation or moving objects at a distance). In nearly every instance, the recipient eliminates the sensory bombardment of everyday and taps into a deep well of alert receptivity. Could it be that this art is like any other form of communication, but the noise of our everyday McFB life prevents us hearing it?
Just one illustration that for our civilizational and/or developmental dead-ends, we do need cognitive mind to recognize it, not the ‘technology’ to ‘fix it’. Let us use an example of the so called locomotoric engines (for transportation, as well as for energy conversion/transfer). There is absolutely no need for any engine fuels or combustion efficiency improvements. What is required is a new approach, new philosophy, as to depart from the 150-years-in-use very harming explosive systems (unclosed circuits), and their replacement with a nature-coherent and nature-complimenting technology of implosive systems. Explosion sets chemo-electric, electro-magnetic and thermo-kinetic energy by the hydrocarbon’s combustion and the subsequent exhaustion of emission pressure, temperature and shock-waves to outside, while implosion just tackles available ionosphere’s energy charge (which is always a non-carbonic) into motion, or transmits it without losing any or releasing harmful substances. (No wonder that even today, the aborted development of e.g. anti-gravitational ship, flying disk, etc., we attribute to Aliens or classify as the UFOs.)
It reads that the universe performs as the (mindful) intentional servomechanism of an omnipresent instant transfers of force/information, which is immensely unified, yet at the same time infinitely diverse. Stepping closer to the Eastern philosophies of wholistic comprehension, it strikingly opposes the scientific (Newtown-Descartes-Darwin ‘Clockwork universe’) and the religious (dualistic, binary-code-like) picture that the West embedded in its institutions and determined actions in its long standing quest for global domination.
Consciousness – at its most basic level – is coherent light. That is why stellar illumination, not only the solar energy, so much matters.
Those interested in numerology would come to an interesting numerical interpretation of the Summit Rio+20. Tentatively, it may follow: this time in Rio, it will be +20; 2 (dualism, binary-code, either-or) faces 0 (wholeness, an omnipotent egg-shape field of all potentialities).
Quoted from Schlitz, M. (1998) On consciousness, causation, and evolution, Alternative Therapies 1998, Vol.4, No.6
EU fertilizer regulations: What are the consequences for the European food chain?
European food security is at risk from well-meaning, but problematic regulations representing elements of the European Union’s Circular Economy Package 2018. While capping cadmium content in phosphate fertilisers is being touted as a matter of public health, the absence of supporting science, incoherent policy, and the hazardous market consequences are being negligently overlooked. Partially to blame may be the misleading arguments pushed by environmental and industrial lobbies.
The European Union (EU) is increasingly dependent on non-member countries supplying its various needs. When it comes to vital fertiliser, the EU depends on imports for approximately 85% of its phosphate (P2O5). In 2017 most phosphate came from Morocco (1.8Mt), Russia (1.6Mt), Algeria (0.7Mt), Israel, and South Africa. Phosphate is crucial to industrial food production. The fewer phosphate exporters to the EU there are the less competition there is: prices will inevitably rise as a result.
The restrictions proposed in the EU aim to limit the amount of cadmium permitted in phosphate fertilisers. Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal. Present as an impurity in phosphate, it can enter crops and soil through fertilisers. As part of the Circular Economy Package, the Commission proposed an initial cadmium limit of 60mg/kg P2O5, for three years, sliding down to 40mg/kg after nine years, and 20mg/kg after 12 years.
The European Parliament has suggested a final limit of 20mg/kg P2O5 after 12 years while the EU Council’s initial position is a limit of 60mg/kg P2O5 after 8 years.
As a quirk of geology, the phosphate rocks extracted in different regions have differing levels of impurities, like cadmium. This means that the lower the upper limit, the fewer territories that can realistically supply viable phosphate. Notably, at present the phosphate industry maintains that decadmiation is neither technologically nor financially possible.
Problems with the science
Crucially, the science that various EU authorities believe supports their position is hotly contested. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), confirmed there was no accumulation of cadmium in soils when fertilisers have an average of 80 mg/kg P2O5, revised to 73mg/kg P2O5 after taking into account new worst-case scenarios. In either case, this is above the limits pushed by the EU authorities, and the difference between the SCHER average figure and the EU maximum limit is equally significant.
“There is substantial uncertainty with respect to the effects of cadmium in fertilizer on cadmium accumulations in humans,” argue agricultural economists Justus Wessler and Dušan Drabik. According to their findings “cadmium concentration in soils in the EU is declining” and therefore “maximum limits on cadmium, voluntary or mandatory, will increase cost without generating additional benefits,”.
These findings are echoed by researchers for the Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT), who conclude that the “use of P
fertiliser at current levels will not lead to soil accumulation of cadmium, and thus there will be no increase human exposure to cadmium.”
Even the European Commission’s own impact assessment found that “on average, cadmium accumulation is not likely to occur in EU 27 + Norway arable soils when using inorganic phosphate fertiliser containing less than 80 mg Cd/kg P2O5.”
How is the policy causing harm to farmers?
While the regulation may be based on largely unsupported health concerns, the effects of the change will be very real for EU farmers, EU fertiliser producers, and the wider European agri-food industry.
Limitations on the concentrations of cadmium permitted in phosphate fertilisers will ultimately reduce the number of viable suppliers of fertiliser products, and therefore, reduce market competition. Farmers and industry insiders believe that this will raise prices for fertiliser products, which are already an expensive overhead.
Fertilisers currently comprise a significant percentage of EU farmers input costs. Many feel that they will not be able to cope with increased prices, as they often already receive insufficient returns for their products. The European farmers’s interest group COPA and COGECA has argued that “the increase in input costs will be detrimental [to farmers’s]…economic viability and to the sustainability of farms.”
“It will have a negative impact on farmers profitability and the competitiveness of European agriculture which plays a key role in a global economy,” the group also said.
Isabel García Tejerina is a Spanish minister who opposed the proposals for cadmium limitations out of consideration to Spanish farmers and fertiliser producers. Tejerina argued that the regulation demonstrated disregard for farmers interests.
“Too strict cadmium limits would exclude us from the market of phosphate fertilizers”, she said, adding that France and the UK have similar concerns.
While there are limits on cadmium content in fertilisers in order to reduce its consumption, there are currently no limits on cadmium content in food products imported from outside of the EU. This is another source of anger as farmers fear that it could facilitate unfair competition.
Tipping Points in Australia’s Climate Change debates. Where to Now?
A record-breaking high summer came early to Australia in 2019. By October, the daily weather map of the country was charting the rapid spread of catastrophic bushfires in disparate regions across the entire island continent. This meant recurrent, intense weather events that combined 40°C temperatures, ferocious winds and dry lightning storms, in which sparse rainfall evaporated before it reached the ground. With the forecasts came repeated warnings: the country’s substantial resources and manpower provided no guarantee the fires that were erupting in such conditions could be contained. Nor that local people and properties could be safeguarded.
For months on end came each day’s tally of the nightmarish realisation of the forecasts. By early January 2020, almost two million hectares of the countryside had been reduced to blackened landscapes. Among the hardest hit were the eastern states where 80% of Australia’s population live. Out-of-control fires in the tinder-dry old eucalypt forests and remote mountain bushland were merging into megafires. Along a 1000 kilometre front on the New South Wales seaboard this meant up to 60 metre walls of flame and ember showers that created windblown spot fires up to 30 kilometres away. With little chance of saving their homes, residents of towns and villages evacuated to makeshift community centres and nearby beaches. An estimated 800-900 houses were destroyed, with a higher number anticipated as evacuated families gradually return to streets of rubble and ash. Driven by the strong winds, a thick, toxic pall of grey smoke had also blanketed coastal areas, as well as inland regions including the national capital of Canberra. Peaking at around 20 times acceptable levels of pollution, the pure mountain air of Australia’s showpiece garden city now had an Air Quality Index that was among the highest in the world. The city’s government handed out free face masks, advised its citizens to stay indoors and for a time closed public institutions and offices. With the sun a spectral red in a sepia-coloured sky, the result was a sensation of eerie, off-world emptiness. As one commentator suggested, the bushfires were like some relentless, hellish creature stalking Australians from all directions.
Meantime, the season of horror and catastrophe has brought renewed momentum to the country’s climate change debates. These are strongly politicised debates. With at least a thirty-year history, they have ranged from the baneful nonsense of the Far Right’s outright climate change denial; to a hesitant, ill-informed scepticism about the limits and accuracy of the science that links Australia’s weather patterns of recurrent droughts, floods and bushfires to wider global climate change; to claims that our carbon emissions are insignificant when compared to those of China, Russia or the US; to apocalyptic predictions of an imminent ‘sixth extinction’ caused by wilful ignorance of the extent of humankind’s destruction of the planet’s eco-systems. In more recent years, there also has gradually emerged qualified optimism that innovative, adaptive technologies can and will provide solutions to the environmental threats.
But in the wake of the bushfires, the prevailing consensus among Australians is challenging the confusion and complacency generated by these debates. To an angry public, the destruction wrought was unarguably unprecedented and only explicable in terms of global climate change. This is evident across social media outlets, the mainstream press, elite opinion makers, the emergency services, the rural towns and farming communities, the more progressive voices in the corporate sector, and to the thousands of anti-government demonstrators on the streets of the state capitals calling for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s dismissal. Their insistent view has been that their country was blindsided by its third-rate governance under Morrison’s extreme Right-Wing leadership. Specifically, this has meant federal government inertia, dismissal of warnings by independent experts, and funding cuts to key bureaucracies, climate change research institutes and fire control services. The result has been that Australia was drastically ill- prepared for the impact of the coming summer of extreme temperatures combined with prolonged drought.
Moreover, the Morrison government has been widely accused of falling back on traditional, nationalistic ‘meet and beat’ rhetoric. Here what is implied is that we resourceful Aussies would voluntarily rise to the challenge of the seasonal bushfires and emerge victorious. It has also been the Prime Minister’s sloganizing term for his repeated claim that Australia continues to advance towards its 2030 carbon emission reduction targets. For the country’s climate change researchers, and probably most of the rest of the world, this last apparent reassurance severely strains credibility. Not least this is because the current fires have been belching poisonous carbon monoxide and dioxide into the stratosphere, already reaching approximately twice the levels of Russia’s 2019 Siberian wildfires. According to data from a December, 2019 World Economic Forum Report, the bushfires had already pumped out half a year’s CO2 emissions. As well, the report warned that ‘vegetation vital for absorbing CO2 is being destroyed by the blazes.’ To paraphrase a recent media headline, when it comes to climate change debates, ‘Australia has a serious bulldust problem.’ In short, Prime Minister Morrison’s ad hoc political strategies have been perceived as omitting any substantial forward planning or persuasive policy agenda.
All of which raises the question of the extent to which the bushfires might prove to be a turning point towards a more enlightened, informed plan to protect and nurture our environment. The concern is that it might be slow in coming. With some fires yet to be extinguished and smog predicted to choke cities and regional areas at least until April, 2020, for the immediate future the focus is on clean-up and recovery. The Morrison government is providing a two billion dollar funding package for a range of welfare services and for rebuilding communities, as well as for the millions of injured birds and animals to be rescued, nursed and relocated to surviving bush habitats. Australia’s Defence Forces have also been deployed to help in the recovery efforts. Though much needed, it is a strategy that has been satirised by one of Australia’s leading political cartoonists as a panicked Morrison with his backside on fire holding out a fistful of dollars to a scornful polity.
What then of this alleged absence of substantial national policy-making, of the urgent need for transformational planning as the world changes? At a grassroots level the bushfires are already proving to be a further stimulus to a long list of environmentally conscious initiatives, from the rejection of plastic packaging, to voluntary community replanting of tree coverage and grasslands, to fashionable inner-city restaurants surrounded by their own patches of homegrown vegetables, to eco housing design that includes the use of fireproof materials and air filters, to cycling to one’s workplace. For example, in Canberra its territory government guidelines require all new housing to include a water storage tank under the foundations and solar panels on the roof; there is a network of bicycle paths across the city, weekend markets for regional organic farm produce, and fenced sanctuaries to protect native wildlife, which are monitored by park rangers. In line with other state capitals and countries, the city is also phasing out the use of gas, as a stepping stone towards a target of zero carbon emissions by 2045.
With the hope of a more fundamental impact that transcends federal government complacency, there is also an expanding, grassroots focus on the applied science of long-term regenerative agriculture, whose aim is to rescue the arid, drought-ravaged farmlands. Its methodologies go beyond the long-standing European techniques of artificial soil fertilisation and piped irrigation, of the kind that have risked turning the inland lakes and river systems, most notably the Murray Darling Basin, into shallow, permanently-polluted puddles. Instead the starting point is a geographical survey to identify the potential of a degraded, natural water course. The next step is the planting of an abundance of native trees, shrubs, reeds and rushes along its banks and erecting stock proof fencing. As well, ‘live weirs’ are built at intervals to provide erosion control structures that slow water flow and help to reinvigorate the surrounding floodplain through spreading seepage. Within a decade or so the result is described by its practitioners as: a healthy, vibrant ecosystem, filtering water through its extensive reed beds, capturing flood sediments, recycling nutrients and providing complex habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, frogs, fish and invertebrates. Productivity on the floodplain also increases by around 60%.
The success of an initial project on Mulloon Creek in the New South Wales hinterland has not only been profitable, but has led to establishment of the Mulloon Institute. The Institute has since been selected by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) as among its top five for its world class development of environmental resilience alongside agricultural productivity. Its current aim is to facilitate 100 landscape projects across Australia and internationally that are similarly profitable and sustainable. Incidentally, it has also been pointed out that these methodologies might well have prevented the fertile gardens of ancient Mesopotamia’s Tigris/Euphrates floodplain becoming the deserts of modern Iraq.
What follows considers a more comprehensive national economic plan that addresses directly the failures of successive, backward-looking conservative governments in preparing the country for the savage onslaught of climate change. The plan incorporates more than a decade of econometric monitoring by the University of Melbourne’s Professorial Fellow, Ross Garnaut, that compares the rising financial costs of maintaining our fossil fuel industries with the profitability of transitioning to renewable energy sources. When he began his study in 2007, Garnaut says, his data confirmed the prevalent assumption that a transition economy based on renewable energy and zero carbon emission technologies would be marked by a period of austerity detrimental to both developed and developing countries. His most recent book, Superpower Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity, published in November 2019, reviews his earlier data, concluding that such economic considerations have changed fundamentally and will continue to do so. Falling global interest rates which have reduced the cost of capital, combined with the likely rising price of fossil fuels as a result of increasing demand in large developing countries, is making products and projects that reduce green-house gas emissions more lucrative alternative investments.
In addition, there have been relatively rapid transformative cost reductions in machinery for producing electricity from wind and sun, in battery storage of electricity, and decarbonisation through electrification of transport and in other areas from small to medium businesses to large-scale manufacturing. In other words, for an imaginative, forward-looking company there is a considerable wealth to be made in the transition economy. Garnaut also concludes that Australia is singularly blessed with the geography and resources to be a front-runner in the creation of multi- billion dollar domestic and export industries in renewables. ‘If we all understood the economic value of a transition to renewables,’ he says, ‘we could move from policy incoherence to hope.’ With regard to the issue of whether wishing makes it so, of whether despite his detailed pursuit of statistical evidence in the dismal thickets of economics, Garnaut errs on the side of optimism, his book elucidates a couple of core Australian case studies. The first charts his personal experience of applying research-based knowledge in partnership with private-enterprise. In 2015, he became Chairman of Zen Energy, a South Australian company, with plans to scale up from a relatively small supplier of solar energy and battery storage technology to providing renewables to entire communities and industries. In 2017, the company merged with the British- based, multi-billionaire, Sanjeev Gupta’s global GFG Alliance. Though the evidence is not yet available, the rebranded SIMEC Energy Australia has claimed it will supply 100% of South Australia’s electricity needs by 2019. As Garnaut puts it: ‘…what in 2008 and 2011 I had perceived to be a possibility of modest dimension had become a high probability of immense economic gain.’
A second of a number case studies outlined in Garnaut’s book is the massive investment in solar farming in the semi-desert expanses of Northern and Western Australia. A $20 billion development by a Singapore-based company, Sun Cable, together with substantial planning and investment by two of Australia’s wealthiest men, Michael Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest, is currently building what it promises will be ‘the world’s largest solar farm.’ The plan is for a 15,000 hectare array of 10-gigawatt capacity panels, backed by battery storage, which would not only supplement domestic electricity needs. The clean energy would also be exported to Singapore, using a 4500 kilometre, high-voltage, submarine cable. The company’s Chief Executive, David Griffin, describes the project as capturing ‘one of the best solar radiance reserves in the world,’ adding it will operational in less than decade. Further to the west in the Pilbara region, plans are also currently being developed by the Asian Renewable Energy Hub for an even bigger wind and solar hybrid plant, using giant wind turbines and solar panels. The electricity generated would be used primarily to run a hydrogen manufacturing hub to supply a proposed export market in Japan and South Korea.
Among many other researchers, Garnaut describes these projects as climate change mitigation. Implicit here is the deep-seated global concern that they will not be adequate in meeting the imperative that carbon emission increases should be less than 2% – and preferably closer to 1.5% — with a reduction target of zero emissions by 2050 to avoid the acceleration of catastrophic weather events. There is some comfort to be had for Australia in his findings that the country is already embracing a global trend towards a transition economy. But Garnaut also implies that there is little to be gained from a federal government that has continued to stump the debates for renewables against fossil fuels. Instead, state government support, grass roots initiatives, private sector enterprises, expertise that informs new developments, global partnerships and investment have been emerging as a way forward to a more hopeful future.
From our partner RIAC
You never miss the water, till the well runs dry
In the past twenty years, virtually every country around the world has experienced natural calamities if we have experienced it in the form of drought, famine, immense downpours, and snowfall – in the same vein the world experienced it in the way of wildfire, Tsunami, hurricanes, flood, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and pandemic ailments. The question is, who is accountable for all the calamities and who will pay the price? Nevertheless, it is hard to deny that human civilization is having profound effects on our planet, and very few places persisted unharmed.
This article gives a minor insight into reality, stressing that climate change is not only a threat to water availability or food scarcity but also a significant threat to biodiversity and all the major causes of environmental disasters. The above problems are coupled with one single problem “the rise in global temperature.” Since the dawn of industrialization, the average global temperature increases gradually – no serious step has been taken to tackle the problem.
As the sun’s rays reach the earth’s surface, most are absorbed and re-emitted as heat. Greenhouses gasses such as water vapors and carbon dioxide absorb and re-radiate some of this heat; an increased number of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere mean more heat is trapped – warming the earth. The continued burning of fossil fuels like gas and coal, as well as other anthropogenic activities, have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 45% since the industrial revolution. As a consequence of the human egoistic actions, the global average surface temperature has raised by 0.8OC over that time. However, it is not just a number we should worry about; the costs of the rising temperature is already being felt here and now.
In current 0.8OC rise in temperature, further changes to the climate in recent times can be seen in the warming of the ocean, a rise in sea level, immense heatstroke, decreasing ice sheet and snow in the northern hemisphere as well as a decline in the sea ice in the Arctic. In the coming future, if the emission continues unimpeded, then further warming of 2.6OC to 4.8OC is predictable by the end of this century. Nonetheless, at the low end, this would have a serious implication on human societies and other natural habitats.
Like other greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is a dynamic gas in global warming. When a considerable amount of carbon dioxide gas is released to the atmosphere, it acts like a blanket preventing the heat from absconding, which comes back to the earth with no place to escape, further intensifying the average temperature. As per the world, average temperature rise, ice sheets, and glacier melt and the sea level expand, which disrupts the coastal communities, infrastructure, and small lands nearby sea.
Climate change also making weather more extremely hot or cold, and further, sever warmer weather and ocean produce a considerable number of hurricanes as well as torrential downpour and wind. In drier areas, global warming is linked with wildfire, drought, amidst all the wildfire has experienced very recently in many countries around the world.
Remarks: In the past years, most of the countries around the globe have witnessed record-breaking changes in the weather; in the same vein, thousands of agreements have been signed by the states to reduce carbon emission; nevertheless, all deals are nothing more than words on pages. The question is, who will make those words a reality. Despite a large number of the accords, none of the agreements came into a function; lack of seriousness is the leading cause. In such circumstances, combine efforts are essential; it is also the concern of the United Nations to push those countries which emit a high amount of greenhouse gases.
The Paris agreement on climate change means working with UN member states to reduce the number of carbon emission by 1.5%, which indeed is the only choice to contest climate change. Since the Paris accord, global banks have invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuels. The world’s top 100 productive industries are responsible for 70% of global carbon emissions; the G20 countries account for 80% of global carbon emissions; the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population produces half of the carbon emissions while the poorest 50% is account for just 1/10. Indeed, overcoming climate change need mighty force, but some must pay more than others.
Recently a handful of rich countries pledged to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by so and so % or to become fully climate neutral by this or that date, and nothing has been achieved in the past four years since the accord came into power. The G20 countries are accountable for climate change, and they must take serious action to mitigate or at least lessen the impacts of natural calamities. Instead of signing agreements to satisfy the world, a gravity in their accords is utmost besides with their substantial contribution and thoughtfulness; the global emission may perhaps remain below 1.5%, every friction in the degree matter and even a 1% rise in the global average temperature is detrimental to the ecosystem.
It is now the right time to think and act, spread awareness among people, take deliberate actions, discrete climate changes from politics, and ultimately stop the burning of fossil fuel and re-make this world a green-clean place for living. If we fail to overcome climate change, the world must prepare for long-term everlasting disasters; immense heat-waves, the rise of sea level, acidification of seawater, pure water scarcity, pandemic diseases, wildfire, the extinction of vital species as well as the disruption in food cycle which will, directly and indirectly, disturb the living life.
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