No postings for a while as I've been away quite a lot. In October I spent two and a half weeks on Holy Isle:
When I returned and got around to checking my email I found this link in my inbox:
These two things - the aim for a simple and sustainable lifestyle on Holy Isle, and the phenomenon of 'irreversible climate change" might, at first glance, seem to be opposed.
Of course, if you have read my book Is the Human Species Special?: Why human-induced global warming could be in the interests of life then you will realise that these two things seem to epitomise the 2 forces which I outline:
'Irreversible climate change' = the force to environmental destruction
'Holy Isle' = the force to environmental sustainability
On Holy Isle they are seeking to be as self-sufficient as possible in terms of energy generation and food production. Compared to the average 'western lifestyle' the inhabitants have a low carbon footprint. The Holy Isle Project is undoubtedly part of the force to environmental sustainability, and it is worth bearing in mind that there are many advanced technologies on the Isle. Mobile phones, televisions, computers, electricity generators, a kitchen full of gadgets and appliances. The drive for sustainability and technology sit very well together.
On the other hand, at the global level, the force to environmental destruction has ALREADY brought us to the point where the forces have been set in motion which lead to irreversible climate change (the link to the Nov 2011 Guardian article above seemingly more confirmation of my claim in "Is the Human Species Special?").
As time progresses the need for geoengineering will become clear to all. I hope that enough preparations will have been made so that the switch to geoengineering the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere can happen speedily; if not, the suffering to the life-forms of the Earth will be higher than it could have been.
Let me clarify and conclude the tale of two forces. There are many different aspects to the phenomenon of sustainability. Sustainability at the planetary level requires the GMST to be in a certain range and as the homeostatic regulatory capacity of the Earth continues to weaken this requires human geoengineering of the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. The yearning for survival (which I started to explore in the previous post) has propelled the force to environmental destruction to the point where this geoengineering is about to occur.
There are other elements to a sustainable, peaceful, harmonious and living Earth. As the force to environmental sustainability continues to grow, through projects such as Holy Isle, sustainability in terms of water use, and total resource use per head will slowly be attained. In short, there are two realms of sustainability - sustainability of the atmosphere & sustainability at the surface of the Earth. The first realm requires a technological geoengineering solution; the second realm has a more debatable role for technology. Some would say that sustainability at the surface of the Earth is easier to achieve without technology; however, there seems certain to be a role for technology in this realm too.
My main interest is in the first realm (sustainability of the atmosphere). This is why in What Does it Mean to be 'Green'?: Sustainability, Respect & Spirituality I claim that high human resource use in the past is 'green'. High human resource use was required to develop technology and thereby enable the sustainability of the atmosphere through geoengineering. In the second realm (considered in isolation) high human resource use is not so obviously 'green' (however, in the longer term the survival of the life which has arisen on the Earth clearly requires technology to leave the planet - so the need for technology is not simply to geoengineer the first - atmospheric - realm).