The Philosophy of Global Warming

If you are interested in the relationship between the human species and the rest of life on Earth, individual and collective human purpose, evolution, cosmology, the nature of reality, astrology, spirituality, and how all of this relates to global warming & the environmental crisis of modernity, then I am sure that you will like my new book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. In the post below I have provided the book description, the list of contents and the first two sections of the book. You can find out how to get hold of the book by clicking on this link:

The Philosophy of Global Warming

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Nature of the Universe

In order to fully appreciate why there is a need for geoengineering, and why the purpose of the human species is to fulfil such a need, one needs to think about the nature of the universe and the place of life within the universe.

Let me say a few words about the postings that are appearing in this blog. I have what might usefully be referred to as a 'complete picture' of the place of humans in the cosmos and the relationship between humans and the cosmos. This 'complete picture' can be thought of as a reasonably large jigsaw with lots of different pieces. It is impossible for me to instantaneously gift you with the 'complete picture'; all I can attempt to do is present you with one piece of the jigsaw at a time. Each posting is an individual piece. It is unlikely that on encountering a single piece of a jigsaw that you will assert: "I can see the complete image/picture". My hope is that when enough of the pieces are in place that you will be able to see the wonder that is the 'complete picture'.

So, what is the nature of the universe? You might believe that humans are simply not able to answer this question. Indeed, it would seemingly be foolish to claim that one knows with one hundred percent certainty what the nature of the universe is. Nevertheless, humans clearly have perceptual access to part of the universe, and are able to observe certain movements within the universe. On the basis of such observations it is reasonable to draw some conclusions concerning the likely nature of the universe.

One of the main conclusions which one can draw is that the universe is 'purposeful'. There is much to be said about why this is so, why you can see that this is so for yourself, and what this means when fully elucidated. These are all pieces of the jigsaw! To say that the universe is 'purposeful' is to say that the universe has a particular aim/objective/goal (our consideration of the phenomena of mind, consciousness, awareness and thought is a long way off, but to avoid confusion it is worth noting that to say that the universe is 'purposeful' is not to say that it is minded, or conscious, or aware, or thinking). To say that the universe is 'purposeful', that it has a particular aim/objective/goal, is simply to agree with Aristotle that:

"There is something divine, good, and desirable… [that matter] desire[s] and yearn[s] for"

What is the nature of the universe? The universe is an entity which desires and yearns for something "divine, good, and desirable. It is this desiring/yearning which underpins the evolution of the universe (in both what we call the 'living' and the 'non-living' parts of the universe). The purpose of the universe is to attain a 'good and desirable state', to attain that which is 'yearned for'.

I will be presenting a view of humans in the cosmos in which both 'life', and that part of life that is 'humans', are states of the universe that were yearned for because they are parts of the universe that are divine, good and desirable.

By the way, the above consideration of the nature of the universe contains some excerpts from my forthcoming book:


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Need for Geoengineering - a clarification

In the previous posting "Two Routes to the Need for Geoengineering" I might have given the impression that there is a doubt as to whether or not there is a need for geoengineering. However, if the life which has arisen on the Earth is to survive there is very little doubt about this need. The only real question concerns the timescale within which the need exists.

To see this let me say a few words about the 'environmental crisis'. It is easy to make the mistake of believing that before humans had a significant impact on the Earth that the Earth was in some kind of 'static' state. According to this view, the Earth (and life on Earth in particular) was in a perfectly 'happy' and 'stable' state until humans started having a significant impact on the Earth; when this impact arose then humans 'disturbed this static state' by 'destabilising' the systems and cycles of the biosphere. The first thing to appreciate is that there is actually no such thing as a 'static' Earth. The Earth is an evolving and ageing whole. When the Earth was in its 'youthful' stage of evolution life spread out over the entire planet and was almost effortlessly maintaining the conditions of the Earth to keep them favourable for its continued existence. The Earth aged out of its youthful stage a long time ago. Life on Earth is now in a stage in which it is in peril (see Sir James Lovelock on this - Gaia, The Ages of Gaia, The Revenge of Gaia). In the future the ageing process will have reached the stage in which the Earth is unable to sustain any life. The youthful exuberance of a young Earth gives way to decay and death.

The only way in which the Earth as a whole can escape such a death is if humans somehow find a way to move the Earth to a more youthful part of the universe (via very advanced technology); and it is hard to take such a possibility seriously. It is more plausible that the life which has arisen on the Earth could survive by leaving the Earth and travelling to a distant part of the universe via human technology - a highly advanced spaceship - in a Noah's Ark type scenario. The future survival of the life that has arisen on the Earth clearly depends on human technology.

The considerations in the previous paragraph apply to the distant future. Let us now consider the more immediate survival prospects for the life that has arisen on the Earth. This is a complex issue with many aspects; I cannot go into all of these aspects here (they will appear at some stage in future blogs, and I have written 3 books in which I try to cover all of these aspects). There is one thing that is crystal clear. If there is no geoengineering then the Earth will become devoid of life much sooner (and seemingly very very much sooner) than if such geoengineering occurs. The non-technological ability of the ageing Earth to keep the conditions of the Earth favourable for complex life-forms is already weakening due to the ageing process. However, just as with an individual human, technology can extend life. If humans can successfully geoengineer the Earth (in particular the temperature of the atmosphere) then the life-forms of the Earth can look forward to a long and rosy future. If not, there is just a downward spiral of decay and death.

So, there is no doubt about the need for geoengineering. The only question is when such geoengineering is required. If the human perturbations to the cycles of the Earth hadn't occurred there would probably be quite a few thousand years before complex life on Earth died. The human movement of fossil fuels from their underground storage areas to the temporary storage areas of the slow moving deep ocean currents (the thermohaline circulation) leads me to believe that we have, at most, until the year 3000 to be successfully geoengineering the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.

There is no certainty about the date; there is just certainty about the need.


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Two Routes to the Need for Geoengineering

My belief that the evolution of the 'human' was 'inevitable' is intimately connected to my belief that humans need to geoengineer the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. However, there are two different routes which one can travel which transport one to this destination. Today I would like to briefly introduce you to these two routes.

The first route is embedded within a particular view of the universe as a whole. One can believe that the entire universe is a purposefully evolving and unfolding entity and that geoengineering is a part of this unfolding. According to this view the universe seeks to evolve life wherever possible and life then sets out on its own journey towards complexification, maintaining itself, technology, geoengineering and ultimately spreading out from its host planet to other parts of the universe. This view entails that the evolution of the 'human' was 'inevitable'. For an initial insight into the view that the universe is a purposefully evolving whole you could take a look at my paper on Friedrich Holderlin and the Environmental Crisis:

The second route is free of any philosophical baggage concerning views of the universe as a whole. This route is based solely on environmental science. The perturbations that humans have been made to the systems of the Earth, but which have not yet become manifest (the elastic band has become nearly fully stretched but has not yet been released) necessitate the need for geoengineering; if this doesn't occur all complex life on Earth will die when the effects become manifest in the near future (before the year 3000). The current limits of human understanding concerning the way that the systems of the Earth operate mean that other interpretations are possible; one could believe that we have until after the year 3000 to geoengineer the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere, or that the systems are so robust that there is no need. My interpretation is that there is a need for geoengineering before the year 3000.

I will be further considering both of these routes. I should stress that the second route is a part of the first route; in other words, the human realisation that they have perturbed the systems of the Earth to such an extent that the only option is to geoengineer the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere is a stage in the evolution of the universe as a whole. Clearly, the second route can also be self-standing.

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