TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, Prospects and Priorities - Let's Prehend
Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, Prospects and Priorities

"...this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."
—Thomas Stearns Eliot

Fortunately, the earth is bountiful and the solar system secure, at least for a few more millennia. There is plenty for everyone, if only modest human wisdom and resources are applied to the problem. The good life need not degrade the human or natural ecology. However, the ripoff we see everywhere around us in all contemporary cultures leads inexorably to human and ecological disaster. This disaster is well on its way: ugly pollution of air, sea, and land; spreading agonies of dying cultures for both poor and rich, each in its own style of despair; imminent disaster threatening all life on earth, the bang of military holocaust or the whimper of ecological destruction.

Neither Venus nor Mars offer refuge; they are only images of what earth may become: uncomplex environments, totally opposite of everything lush and valuable on Earth. Such Armageddon is negative value not only for humans, but objectively it is a negative value in itself.

Therefore the first task is to make sure every human being, and necessarily every creature, moves toward a secure and bountiful life. This basic task is crucial for survival. It also gives everyone something nice to do, which is what the good life is made of - nice things to do. Let each person, each culture, each human entity look to this task in their own way, the reconstruction of organic cultural life, ROCL. Just as physical nature evolved the planets and the stars, just as biological nature evolved the flowers and beasts, so let humans participate in the increasing complexity of their culture. The advance of complexity is, objectively, the basic value in reality.

A basic task for the twenty-first century is to see the most destructive ongoing processes and correct them as soon as possible:

  1. The threat of nuclear war is already alleviated by continuing improvements in communications between possible belligerents. The hot-line between the US and the enemy is regularly upgraded. Even the military people know that nuclear war is a gone game. Some even say so. Unfortunately, strategies such as launch-on-warning negate advances in the little red phone. Cold war or no, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons proliferation continues. The threat persists.[ For current information, follow *FAS, the Federation of American Scientists, *CDI, the Civilian Defense Monitor, and many others.]
  2. Pollution, such as acid rain, which is rapidly degrading the forests of the northern hemisphere, can be stopped almost immediately by stopping the burning of coal, an easy task, as Amory Lovins and his ilk can explain, if asked.[ For current updates, see Amory *Lovins *RMI, Rocky Mountain Institute and *WWI, World Watch Institute and many others.]
  3. Climate change caused by greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide can be stopped in just a few years by substituting natural gas for coal (thus producing about half as much CO2 per BTU), pumping CO2 into the ocean or ground, and gradually replacing the burning of all fossil fuels with sustainable energy sources. Transition to sustainable energy systems may take a decade or so, but no longer.
  4. Pollution of all other kinds, such as toxics in the air, water and land are easily prevented and less easily cleaned up, yet another task virtuous enough to stir the hearts of all concerned, another nice thing to do.
  5. Practice an analysis of the QUANTIFICATION OF SUFFERING, QOS, detailing and generalizing the quality of life among the poor and uncompetitive. Under present world management, we can expect the mass agony, enslavement, and starvation of the Third World to continue and increase. Malthus and his ilk are not only wrong, they are unkind, and covertly malicious. Jim *MacNeill summarizes the solution, with accounting, in the Scientific American Magazine of 9/89. He outlines in detail how the poverty and indebtedness of the Third World can be alleviated through investment and planning, complete with costs and time frames.

Notice how the mind seems compelled to give reasons, to rationalize why and how things are the way they are, like the victim of post-hypnotic suggestion who readily gives perfectly plausible reasons for the most bizarre behavior. So it is with present thinking - as if human reason were the last to change. Rescuing the social and natural ecology is the task of the twenty-first century, (p.305) and no amount of rationalization can prevent it. It is the imperative of reality - the evolution of culture. The current medieval rationalism may postpone it, or even mess it up a bit, but systemic thinking is an idea whose time has come.


The wealthiest must be convinced to stop doing bad things. For example, the Saudis and others must be convinced to stop taking oil from God's earth. Most of it is not needed. Life is rich in itself, and the earth is bountiful. It's an easy task. There are plenty of able people, on and off Madison Avenue, who can get anybody to do anything.

Similarly, the Chinese must be induced to stop mining coal, much of which they waste heating poorly designed buildings. People such as *Ovshinsky can manufacture solar cells about as fast as fossil fuel electric plants can be disassembled; and the LUZ solar thermal plant in California has undersold nuclear electricity. Chinese trains can run on electricity, like so much of the Trans-Siberian railroad does now. True, the Chinese want a hundred million refrigerators in the next few decades, but solar solid state refrigerators (no CFCs) can be built for under a hundred dollars each. (That's less than the Stealth Bomber program, and easier to do. We could deliver them from our factories in Mexico with the obsolete bombers.)

The Russians can make it through the winter with very little energy, in elegant passive solar homes, already well developed even in Idaho and New Hampshire, believe it or not.

The Americans can be quickly seduced into other activities besides driving their cars, etc., as soon as the new ecovillages are underway. Our Scandinavian sisters have already started cohousing.

Old houses, like old cars, are a cultural and ecological disaster and can be quickly replaced by the newer more elegant hybrid electric cars and passive solar homes. Bypassing the present bureaucracy, the better cars and communities would cost about one tenth as much as they do now, should anyone think money is a serious problem, which it is not.

High rises (p.218) are a more difficult problem, especially since the animal rights people oppose their conversion to giant cow barns. They were built as monuments, and will always be monuments long after people no longer flock to them. They exist only by a lobbied glitch in the tax code, which will soon wither away.

The Brazilians and the Indonesians must immediately stop slashing the rain forests. Present puppet governments give lip service to ecology, but the destruction increases. Under pressures from the First World they tolerate, even subsidize this disaster. Forest preservation and use can produce ten times the economic value which seems to result from their conversion to Big Mac range and plantation. A Brazilian Grossinger's resort could be another possible conversion.

People ask why, if it's so easy, aren't folks getting right to it. People usually enjoy a nice new project, but they just haven't got to it yet. They soon will, surely.

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