Passion Project Outline: Nature Happens
Submitted on Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:35 — isabelle
The thesis of this project begins with what it means to be a human living amongst other humans in the natural world and what it will take to continue doing so. The question arises specifically in view of our impact on most natural systems and the attempts we then make to reverse-engineer or mitigate against what is an almost universally held expert view that we are poised on the teetering edge of an environmental crises. My point of departure is primarily that we have put ourselves here and that it is therefor our task - individually and as a whole (species) to reverse this trend. I believe that we can do this with natural human ability (hope, empathy, will, spirit, intuition, creativity, intellect etc.). While my research and signal gathering scopes barometers in the realm of the sciences, technology, current events, economics, history, geology, philosophy, psychology, education, leadership, emerging theory and environmental practice the framework for this inquiry is firmly grounded upon natural human ability and a will to be present.
My research shows that what we typically consider as our 'environment' consists of a multiplicity of interconnected (open) complex systems that quite naturally 'evolve' in a way that science describes as 'self organized criticality'. This means that natural systems change over the course of time. There occur changes that depending on vantage might constitute as death (catastrophe) or new life (emergence). Typically this is known as 'evolution'.
At the same time, our increasing ability to affect and modify our circumstances - our natural world and ourselves - adds layers of human-made complexity on top of existing natural complexities.
Science is leaving the age of discovery and entering the age of mastery, increasingly able to manipulate genes and individual atoms, to insert chips into the environment, to freeze, bank, and save life potential (seeds, human ova and DNA) for future optioning. Essentially we are developing the means to create life and to animate whatsoever we choose as we deem fit. There are many questions that arise as we attain this kind of omnipotence, one is: do we have the courage, wisdom, and discretion to then control it? Another concern is that the complexities of our technological interventions will not be able to compensate for the decline of natural complex systems.
This report will examine:
1. How did we get here from there?
2. How might we naturally 'self-correct' - avert 'disaster' - by reclaiming our ability to "see what is in front of our eyes" and to do what it is we know we must do to live on this planet in a respectful manner that coheres with the immanent limits of nature, those preexisting the supposed limitations constructed by human culture.
3. How we might impress the importance and means of so doing through adoptable philosophical outlook, education, debate and collaborative discourse.
My recent work examining natural evolution coupled with human manipulation of the world's river systems in the scope of the devastating floods and droughts of 2007 raises the question and impetus for this inquiry by proposing that what we commonly perceive as 'natural disasters' are in fact 'human disasters'. It is hereby proposed that recognizing this fact ignites the hope and capabilities that we might work towards reversing it.