State of the world

Discussion in 'Science and the Universe' started by foundationist, Mar 28, 2003.

  1. foundationist

    foundationist New Member

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    Okay, let's see if anyone wants to open up on this topic.

    Global Environment Report at New Scientist has links to various important up-to-date environmental articles.

    What is happening to the world? And why? How do we correct it?
     
  2. exastra

    exastra New Member

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    the fundamental fault lies in our globally predominant ego-centric attitude that the universe exists to serve Mankind.
    -an excerpt from Ishmael:

    "You know that, as we sit here, we are in no sense defying the law of gravity. Unsupported objects fall toward the center of the earth, and the surfaces on which we're sitting are our supports."
    "Right."
    "The laws of aerodynamics don't provide us with a way of defying the law of gravity. I'm sure you understand that. They simply provide us with a way of using the air as a support. A man sitting in an airplane is subject to the law of gravity in exactly the way we're subject to it sitting here. Nevertheless the man sitting in the plane obviously enjoys a freedom we lack: the freedom of the air."
    "Yes."
    "The law we're looking for is like the law of gravity: There is no escaping it, but there is a way of achieving the equivalent of flight-the equivalent of freedom of the air. In other words, it is possible to build a civilization that flies."
    I stared at him for a while, then I said, "Okay."
    "You remember how the Takers went about trying to achieve powered flight. They didn't begin with an understanding of the laws of aerodynamics. They didn't begin with a theory based on research and carefully planned experimentation. They just built contraptions, pushed them off the sides of cliffs, and hoped for the best."
    "True."
    "All right. I want to follow one of those early trials in detail. Let's suppose that this trial is being made in one of those wonderful pedal-driven contraptions with flapping wings, based on a mistaken understanding of avian flight."
    "Okay."
    "As the flight begins, all is well. Our would-be airman hasbeen pushed off the edge of the cliff and is pedaling away, and the wings of his craft are flapping like crazy. He's feeling wonderful, ecstatic. He's experiencing the freedom of the air. What he doesn't realize, however, is that this craft is aerodynamically incapable of flight. It simply isn't in compliance with the laws that make flight possible-but he would laugh if you told him this. He's never heard of such laws, knows nothing about them. He would point at those flapping wings and say, `See? Just like a bird!' Nevertheless, whatever he thinks, he's not in flight. He's an unsupported object falling toward the center of the earth. He's not in flight, he's in free fall. Are you with me so far?"
    "Yes."
    "Fortunately-or, rather, unfortunately for our airman-he chose a very high cliff to launch his craft from. His disillusionment is a long way off in time and space. There he is in free fall, feeling wonderful and congratulating himself on his triumph. He's like the man in the joke who jumps out of a ninetieth-floor window on a bet. As he passes the tenth floor, he says to himself, `Well, so far so good!'
    "There he is in free fall, experiencing the exhilaration of what he takes to be flight. From his great height he can see for miles around, and one thing he sees puzzles him: The floor of the valley is dotted with craft just like his-not crashed, simply abandoned. `Why,' he wonders, `aren't these craft in the air instead of sitting on the ground? What sort of fools would abandon their aircraft when they could be enjoying the freedom of the air?' Ah well, the behavioral quirks of less talented, earthbound mortals are none of his concern. However, looking down into the valley has brought something else to his attention. He doesn't seem to be maintaining his altitude. In fact, the earth seems to be rising up toward him. Well, he's not very worried about that. After all, his flight has been a complete success up to now, and there's no reason why it shouldn't go on being a success. He just has to pedal a little harder, that's all.
    "So far so good. He thinks with amusement of those who predicted that his flight would end in disaster, broken bones, and death. Here he is, he's come all this way, and he hasn't even gotten a bruise, much less a broken bone. But then he looks down again, and what he sees really disturbs him. The law of gravity is catching up to him at the rate of thirty-two feet per second per second-at an accelerating rate. The ground is now rushing up toward him in an alarming way. He's disturbed but far from desperate. `My craft has brought me this far in safety,' he tells himself. `I just have to keep going.' And so he starts pedaling with all his might. Which of course does him no good at all, because his craft simply isn't in accord with the laws of aerodynamics. Even if he had the power of a thousand men in his legs-ten thousand, a million-that craft is not going to achieve flight. That craft is doomed-and so is he unless he abandons it."
    "Right. I see what you're saying, but I don't see the connection with what we're talking about here."
    Ishmael nodded. "Here is the connection. Ten thousand years ago, the people of your culture embarked on a similar flight: a civilizational flight. Their craft wasn't designed according to any theory at all. Like our imaginary airman, they were totally unaware that there is a law that must be complied with in order to achieve civilizational flight. They didn't even wonder about it. They wanted the freedom of the air, and so they pushed off in the first contraption that came to hand: the Taker Thunderbolt.
    "At first all was well. In fact, all was terrific. The Takers were pedaling away and the wings of their craft were flapping beautifully. They felt wonderful, exhilarated. They were experiencing the freedom of the air: freedom from restraints that bind and limit the rest of the biological community. And with that freedom came marvels-all the things you mentioned the other day: urbanization, technology, literacy, mathematics, science.
    "Their flight could never end, it could only go on becoming more and more exciting. They couldn't know, couldn't even have guessed that, like our hapless airman, they were in the air but not in flight. They were in free fall, because their craft was simply not in compliance with the law that makes flight possible. But their disillusionment is far away in the future, and so they're pedaling away and having a wonderful time. Like our airman, they see strange sights in the course of their fall. They see the remains of craft very like their own-not destroyed, merely abandoned-by the Maya, by the Hohokam, by the Anasazi, by the peoples of the Hopewell cult, to mention only a few of those found here in the New World. `Why,' they wonder, `are these craft on the ground instead of in the air? Why would any people prefer to be earthbound when they could have the freedom of the air, as we do?' It's beyond comprehension, an unfathomable mystery.
    "Ah well, the vagaries of such foolish people are nothing to the Takers. They're pedaling away and having a wonderful time.
    They're not going to abandon their craft. They're going to enjoy the freedom of the air forever. But alas, a law is catching up to them. They don't know such a law even exists, but this ignorance affords them no protection from its effects. This is a law as unforgiving as the law of gravity, and it's catching up to them in exactly the same way the law of gravity caught up to our airman: at an accelerating rate.
    "Some gloomy nineteenth-century thinkers, like Robert Wallace and Thomas Robert Malthus, look down. A thousand years before, even five hundred years before, they would probably have noticed nothing. But now what they see alarms them. It's as though the ground is rushing up to meet them-as though they are going to crash. They do some figuring and say, `If we go on this way, we're going to be in big trouble in the not-too-distant future.' The other Takers shrug their predictions off. `We've come all this enormous way and haven't even received so much as a scratch. It's true the ground seems to be rising up to meet us, but that just means we'll have to pedal a little harder. Not to worry.' Nevertheless, just as was predicted, famine soon becomes a routine condition of life in many parts of the Taker Thunderbolt-and the Takers have to pedal even harder and more efficiently than before. But oddly enough, the harder and more efficiently they pedal, the worse conditions become. Very strange. Peter Farb calls it a paradox: `Intensification of production to feed an increased population, leads to a still greater increase in population.' `Never mind,' the Takers said. `We'll just have to put some people pedaling away on a reliable method of birth control. Then the Taker Thunderbolt will fly forever.'
    "But such simple answers aren't enough to reassure the people of your culture nowadays. Everyone is looking down, and it's obvious that the ground is rushing up toward you-and rushing up faster every year. Basic ecological and planetary systems are being impacted by the Taker Thunderbolt, and that impact increases in intensity every year. Basic, irreplaceable resources are being devoured every year-and they're being devoured more greedily every year. Pessimists-or it may be that they're realists-look down and say, `Well, the crash may be twenty years off or maybe as much as fifty years off. Actually it could happen anytime. There's no way to be sure.' But of course there are optimists as well, who say, `We must have faith in our craft. After all, it has brought us this far in safety. What's ahead isn't doom, it's just a little hump that we can clear if we all just pedal a little harder. Then we'll soar into a glorious, endless future, and the Taker Thunderbolt will take us to the stars and we'll conquer the universe itself.' But your craft isn't going to save you. Quite the contrary, it's your craft that's carrying you toward catastrophe. Five billion of you pedaling away-or ten billion or twenty billion-can't make it fly. It's been in free fall from the beginning, and that fall is about to end." ::)
     
  3. maya

    maya New Member

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    it's stupid what weer doing to the world. It's stupid greed and stupid people raping the earth for quick fixes.If we don't sort it out soon we will all have been victime of the rich.
     
  4. foundationist

    foundationist New Member

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    Hm...do you have any information on this book "Ishmael"? It wouldn't happen to be someone conversing with some kind of metaphysical non-physical Arab-like figure, would it, by any chance?
     

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