on humanism and environmental crisis

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Niche crisis II

Initial version published in December 2019, this is new, expanded form.

 

 

Niche crisis.

 

Part 1. Niche crisis is caused by our cognitive dysfunction.

 

When the ship is sinking and there is water in its bottom we send crew to pump the water out. The more the water is pouring in, the more pumping is needed, right? Obviously, no. We need to find the hole in the hulk, repair it and it is how we save the ship and ourselves.

I believe that the ship is sinking and we are busy at the pumps.

 

When you look at your world you see your environment. But when you look from outside, as an observer, at any species, it has its niche – the resources, climate, food, other members of the species, predators, anything that influences its evolutionary fitness. It is why I prefer the term “niche crisis”.

We need this “observer” look, seeing ourselves as species, the last surviving of six other hominids. The one which got almost extinct several times, last one only 50 000 years ago ( if you forget 1962 ). And our niche, which pretty well fits Planet Earth, is getting weaker again. Even if population growth is slowing down- only 9 billions by 2050, the number of people pulled out of poverty/subsistence life into the “consumer’s  circle” is growing rapidly and I hope will continue to grow. So, the resources like clean air, diverse forests, clean water, good soil, fish and plankton-rich oceans are dwindling, especially for these new consumers. And the just feeling of injustice and social conflicts fostered by our wonderful global brain gets worse.

  So, the ship is sinking, for sure, even if some of my gloomy pictures might be controversial, but not all of them, for goodness sake. And there is no “time as usual” or chinese “wheel theory” as evidenced by millions and millions of good, young, smart people, who are “at the pumps”. Recycling, electric cars, solar panels, vegetarianism, planting trees, all these are heartwarming.

    Let’s keep pumping, as a compromise, and to feel good and keep troops morale high, but we have to find and repair the hole. Find the crisis cause while trying to slow down the disastrous results

 For the last 30 years I have been studying evolution and for the last 10 years I have been studying people’s personal  worldviews. 

    This part comes from a textbook of evolution, so if you don’t believe in evolution, you can switch to intelligent design text or just prey. Historically this maneuver has a lot of sense, but if you feel intellectually adventurous- here it is. 

     Every species survives by expanding its niche. More food sources, more diversity of the environment which the organisms can adapt to means more babies and more sex. The stronger the niche the more energy from the sun the species absorbs and utilises. This energy during the evolutionary mechanisms  is transformed into complexity, creating stronger bodies, brains and stronger social life. You noticed very broad strokes, but the only difference for humans is that the complexity is called the culture or civilization and the animal’s urge to survive and to mate is called wanting to be happy. 

 

      And this is our ticket. We have to strengthen our niche otherwise we’ll get extinct.

Our ticket is our culture- we are conscious, thinking, observing our own demise.

We have to pivot and we can do it. We can’t keep attempting to be happy by getting complexity (strength of the niche)from consuming the planet’s dwindling resources. We can figure out how to be happy by getting different types of complexity. We can learn and teach our children- this is a matter of a generation, of a new curriculum.

 

People’s lives will improve. The improvement will involve more and more people and the resources will be spared. The economies will shrink materially, but the acces and the use of carbon neutral experiences will expand exponentially. This is the only way, otherwise the suffering of millions will ensue. The human capacity is apparent from my work on the worldviews. I read them, work with them and I am amazed: everybody writes about peace, meaningful relationships and love of nature and beauty. We have to follow our idealistic worldviews. We want this, we just need to be taught how to get it. What for Teilhard de Chardin  was a nebulous Omega Point (literally pie in the sky) for us might be a desperate survival maneuver.

 

There will be two complementary essays – the sequels to this one. 

Part 2 : Materialists and idealists. I will attempt to find them, find them now and find them in the past. Where did they come from and where did they go?

Part 3 : I will look into the future, into a new curriculum to build a new society. This utopia is unlike well known, worn and failed  utopias of spiritual and moral perfection. We will teach our children,( and grass root movement sprouts already everywhere,) to be happy without abusing the planet. Their life, in contrast to the prediction for the year 2050, will be more exciting and rich than ours. They will have more than we have, but no more gadgets or power. They will have more love and friendship. More creativity, fun, discovery and beauty.

 They will be idealists.

Open letter to all humanists.

This is an open letter to all humanists and this is a great majority of all humans. Most of them do not realize that they are humanists. I want to bring this fact to the open : the King is Naked! The term and the meaning of humanism has been hijacked. Most of us are rational, educated and concerned with human problems( including personal, family and tribe problems). But many of us are still working on the childhood fears of the unknown. We think that if we stick to material, scientific or scriptural, “factual” Universe – we will be safe and if we manage to suppress and deny the unknown- we would win.

It is why in my town of Chattanooga, Tennessee,  a group of 20 or 30 ex-baptists or ex-catholics (like me) huddle every month for the Humanist Assembly meeting. It is how we try to handle the fear of the unknown. Next door in hundreds of churches, few synagogues and mosques hundreds of thousands faithfuls respond to this group by desperate or happy clinging to the religious way to handle the unknown.

The more we resist, the more they persist. But we are the species created by evolution! Like in every species, handling unknown is an essential part of survival. Every stupid animal knows it. Cavemen knew it, medieval men knew it-see all these cathedrals- the renaissance men knew it- read Shakespeare!  The imagination, the art, the poetry and the divine- they are all part of the unknown and of the beautiful and awesome human nature, human myth. Also the competition, arrogance, naivety and cruelty – you pick, literally.

The origin of species was described 250 years ago, but it is not in our bones yet, not in our deep, deep worldview.

Get it! Celebrate the unity of man, his creativity and achievements. Not a second too early. Stop fighting! Instead, try to understand and work together on our fears, on the fears of each of us. The ship is sinking (remember The Tempest?), we are the last hominids remaining. Our ancestors survived  several threats of extinction and almost extinction. The scientism like religions make us tiny, helpless, divided and..wrong. The evolutionary thinking shows clearly how over millions of years we created and named all we can see. We can, this time not by luck, but by reason, duck, sneak out and survive again.

Humanists of the world unite!

 

 

 

Niche crisis

Niche crisis (this essay has new, expanded version as Niche crisis II)

 

This species is on the brink of extinction. Each species survival relays on the quality of its niche. The resilience of the species depends on ability to adapt to environmental changes. The organisms, members of a species, use energy to build size of the niche , diversity and complexity. 

 Human’s niche is shrinking , diversity is dwindling and the complexity is built to drive these processes  instead of protecting niche and diversity. Quality of life is rapidly decreasing: people are frightened, worried, angry, impoverished physically, emotionally and intellectually.

  This happened before to many other species and they were extinct, including all six species of earlier humans.

  But only our species can observe this happening. 

Can we use this unique fact to  reverse the trend?

 

I will never know, my children might, my grandchildren will know for sure.

 

To survive we need stop fighting- we need to conquer out tribalism, nationalism and religious divides.

 

To survive we need recognise our unity as a species, as a group of fellow travellers on the same leaking boat, develop friendships, admiration to each other and learn how to cooperate.

 

To survive we have to quit being materialistic, learn ourselves   and teach our children from the crib to cherish and be happy with experiences not with things, 

 

To survive we need to shrink our world population and our economies, develop new education system with emphasis on humanities, art, music , theater and philosophy.