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The Main Problem: Thinking Too Small

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Someone recently posted the following comment in response to a piece I wrote for OpEdNews:
A problem with the ... Movement is that it's attempting to "bite off" a piece way to big to be swallowed (e.g., ... truth, hand counting votes only, Constitutional reform or even convention, etc...)

Is this true? Are those who want a better future thinking too big?

Maybe. But I would argue that we are actually thinking too small.

Too Small?

If you think about it, mankind is on the cusp of creating technology that can terraform other planets, genetically engineer new life forms, live under the ocean, and create machines that can photsynthesize, or think or feel emotions.

Sure, technology can be used to destroy the environment, to kill, or to manipulate and enslave. But technology can also be used to empower us, to make us healthier, and to liberate us.

Technology itself is neutral. As one example, a knife can be used to kill or to save a life (if used as a scalpel).

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Most of us are stuck in a mindset from the industrial revolution. For example:

  • We're obsessed with oil. We might think we're running out (peak oil), or that we have to go steal someone else's (e.g. Iraq), or that we desperately have to drill in wildlife refuges and pristine coasts. But, whatever our belief, we're obsessed with it
  • People are cogs in the machine of the economy
  • The world is a machine. If we break any part of the environment, we'll just fix it or create something else. For example, some people are suggesting measures to solve global warming that might be alot worse than the problem. Like nuking the Panama Isthmus that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans (in order to correct the shut-down of the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current -- which are driven by salinity gradients -- which might occur due to increased melting of glaciers). Tweaking a natural system we don't understand isn't very smart.
So What?

One of the leading scientists today, Dr. Michio Kaku, wrote a book called Generations which argues that our development as a species is measured by how much energy we use. Specifically, Kaku argues that humanity is currently in a very primitive stage, where we are only getting energy from byproducts of the Sun (oil, gas, coal, etc.) Further down the road, Kaku argues, we'll be getting alot more energy directly from the Sun, and then by harnassing tremendous forces such as black holes or quantum fluctuations. In other words, Kaku argues that we are using so little energy the astronomical sense of things that we are barely out of diapers.

While this may at first seem like an anti-environmental position, think about this. If we had access to unlimited energy, we could use nanotechnology, artificial photosynthesis, genetic engineering, etc. to create whole worlds (just inject some bacteria!).

Here we are fighting brutal wars over a couple of million gallons of oil or -- coming soon to a country near you -- access to water supplies, when -- in the near future -- we could get abundant energy from higher-value sources and create our own water.

Do I sound like a dreamer? Well, scientists are smart, and if they put their brains to creating these things, they could easily do them. (read the discussion on ramjet propulsion engines in The Field for some insight into recent developments).

What About Nature?

You might think that I'm an anti-environmentalist. In fact, I think respect and reverence for every lifeform and for natural systems is very important.

But I don't see an either-or choice.

Let me put this precisely: we can have super-high-tech and greater-reverence-for-nature at the same time. Why choose?

Indeed, we can preserve the Earth's ecosystems in a more pristine state if we develop large enough sources of energy. Then we won't have to pollute with primitive, low-technologies such as oil and coal.

The Constitution was based not only on the writings of Europeans like John Locke and ancient Greek systems of government, but also on the Iroquois Confederacy's constitution and system of checks and balances. The Iroquois respected nature. And true Evangelical Christians are now some of the biggest defenders of nature, because they understand that the Bible requires us to be good stewards of creation. So before you ridicule those who respect nature, I invite you to do investigate what our "founders" really thought about the subject.

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George Washington

As a political activist for decades, I have rejoiced in victories for the people and mourned in defeats. I chose the pen name "George Washington" because - as Washington's biographies show - he wasn't a (more...)

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in terms of technology and creating new possibilit... by George Washington on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 6:05:36 PM
God does not care about the technology that we dev... by Michael Morris on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 8:43:05 AM
The problem is with corporate giants too... by aberamsay on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 7:19:41 PM
And we could do exactly that with Boycotts. Look ... by W. Christopher Epler (Bill) on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 9:51:00 PM
To think bigger  we need to haavee time to th... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 7:44:24 AM
about reducing resource consumption and the world ... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 8:15:03 AM
I believe the quote you referenced may have been t... by Tom Murphy on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 9:42:36 AM
For a short second there it almost sounded like yo... by Tony Forest on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 12:56:01 PM
devide is out, divide comes in. I've been over... by Tony Forest on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 12:58:05 PM
Yes, I was "the kid for President" with ... by John Kusumi on Tuesday, Jan 8, 2008 at 4:38:51 AM