Development is not progress

I believe we cannot save the world by simply buying things all the time.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.

Even if we all bought 100% eco things 100% of the time instead of the plastic crap that everyone buys today, they are still ultimately things and it will mean that the demand for timber and other eco fibres will go up further, leading to further deforestation elsewhere (more plantations of whatever crop, be it corn for renewable plastic, bamboo or hemp for fibres, etc).

Personally I think the only real ‘solution’ for the entire human civilisation is … to do nothing. And by that I don’t mean “don’t change”. I literally mean: do nothing. For people to simply work less. Work a four day week. Work a four hour week.

We should be more like the Aborigines! We should look up to the Aborigines! The original (and best) custodians of this land.

More sleep and more meditation. That’s the only hope for humanity, for people to be more mindful. And that is the best that I can think of (after several years of thinking I might add).

And I can tell you first hand that it’s very hard to live with less, because we have all been brainwashed with “more more more”.

Of course it’s a huge problem because half the global economy is based on blatant overconsumption. I think one of the best things I ever did was to live in Spain — it taught me to be happier with much less.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t all try to be more eco, but what I am promoting these days is simply minimalism. So I would rather buy a wooden broom than have a vacuum cleaner (for example). Because I see the broom as being much less wasteful over the long term.

Unfortunately, when you begin to look at where all of our starting chemicals come from, the industrial processes used to get them, and where everything else is mined from, you realise how big the problem is.

People don’t want mines in their own backyard. And so the ONLY other place to get them is the natural spaces that are left. That is a very big problem. If only because “accidents happen”.

From my point of view as a former materials scientist, I find that life is so special, we should be fighting for every shred of biodiversity on this planet. We couldn’t even hope to artificially make anything like near as complicated as a fly or a worm from first principles using artificial methods (without cheating using genetic engineering etc).

[Read more…]

A message from our great elder, Savid Suzuki.

I went to see David Suzki talk about our planet’s health earlier this year at an event called ‘Hope for the Planet’. I’ve always been aware of the enviornment, ever since I did general studies way back in 1991.

So I paid to see this talk “hope for the planet”. I think all business owners, CEOs, directors, managers, millionaires, billionaires, developers, miners, indeed the entire human race should hear what David Suzuki has to say here. He speaks as a grandfather, an elder. Indigenous peoples will of course already know what he has to say.

“Nature couldn’t care less about human boundaries.” — David Suzki

Watch it & share. Because the fact that it only has a thousand views is unfathomable. Our future as a species depends on how many people listen to a talk like this.

We need to work collectively towards a better future. Otherwise, what’s the point of even working so hard on our businesses?

It’s so true when David Suzuki speaks about the most important things for us humans in this world: clean air, fresh water and uncontaminated, healthy food. Without aire, we’d all be dead in two minutes!

It is absolutely ridiculous that corporations can poison our world and get away with it. They are encouraged to do so by our own government. Workers in such industries are paid HUGE amounts of money and I see that as a form of environmental corrruption. When you pay your workers $100k, $200k, $1M, $10M salaries, it’s a way of getting them to forget about their conscience.

Anyway, I think seeing his talk [which is not quite what this video is about] made me realise my place in the world. I studied materials science so I know better than anybody where all these materials come from, how they are mined, extracted and used. I know that every time you buy something physical, something mandmade and synthetic, you are directly supporting the mining industry. 

And I’m sure if mining industries had their own way, no areas would be safe on this planet. They don’t truly care about this world. They only seem to care about profit. And that’s one of the many reasons why I try to reduce my consumption and materialism in all areas of my life. Ever since I decided to do this, it has made me much, much happier as a person.

I think that the whole concept of the “7 generations” that Indigenous American Indians have is way more evolved than the concept of industrialisation. I think that in that respect, Indgineous Australian Aborigines are probably a thousand years ahead of us in terms of sustainability. I think we need to look to them on how to best protect our world.

Chaos theory. The butterfly effect.

Today I’m going to talk about “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”, which is one of the foundations of chaos theory.

Chaos theory. I find it a fascinating subject to talk about, so here goes. Some people (me included!) can be really confused by the mathematics that is involved. So I’m not even going to put up a single formula here. Some people can’t seem to fathom how the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.”

I’m just going to explain the concept to you. How can I best explain this something called “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”? Easy.

I want you to think of a single marble on top of a mountain peak like the Matterhorn. Imagine if we placed a marble way up there on the very highest point.

Now imagine, too, if an abnormal amount of snow had built up over the previous winter and there is now the possibility of a great big avalanche. And you all know how avalanches are caused, right?

Avalanches are initiated by too much snow that accumulates on the side of a mountain. Even the smallest rock moving can set it off. Even the force of the snow melting in the sun can change the distribution of weight of built up snow on a slope.

We all know that the marble might dislodge a slightly bigger rock on its way down, thus causing an avalanche. So we have a situation where a very small physical event like a marble falling down could potentially generate a much larger event like an avalanche at the bottom of the mountain. Well ‘okay’ you might say.

Now this is just where it becomes interesting. Because the slightest change in the way we placed that single marble down onto the summit might have caused it to fall one way or another. Or the slighest breeze in one direction or the other. Or some small feature on the surface of the rock on which it is placed. [Read more…]

What is the wisest long-term monetary investment billionaires can make?

Someone posted a meme about J. K. Rowling today (the author of Harry Potter).

And it said she is the first person to lose her billionaire status. And as soon as someone posts a meme about billionaires on LinkedIn, my ears prick up. She dropped off the Forbes billionaire list due to “charitable giving”.

I myself am very outspoken these days, ever since my former psychologist hyptnotised me. (I only asked to be able to stop biting my nails. And she threw in “accessory bonus packs” of self-esteem and confidence!)

So I promptly wrote back:

“Well, see now that’s one of the first person to be billionaire that I TRULY respect.
I’m sure there are others out there. I’ll probably write an article about her on my blog now. Yes.

Because personally I think (I know) that the best thing billionaires/trillionaires can do with their money, in my professional opinion as an ex-materials scientist, the wisest long term investment any multi-millionaire or billionaire can make, is to buy up native sections of forest. And just sit on it. And not for eventual ‘development’ either.

Trust me, biologists are right. It’s truly priceless. Why? Because we cannot replicate it. We actually need it. And we do not even fully understand it. Life has properties that no manmade material can ever match.”

Open letter response to Malcolm Roberts

Here is what this Australian sentator said on his maiden induction speech:

“It is basic. The sun warms the Earth’s surface. The surface, by contact, warms the moving, circulating atmosphere. That means the atmosphere cools the surface. How then can the atmosphere warm it? It cannot. That is why their computer models are wrong.” [source]

Excuse me? Are you fucking kidding me? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. You’re basically using your own anecdotal observations because “you think it’s all a global conspiracy”.

See, this is a big worry. When politicians have such power and are that blatantly stupid, basically we are all doomed. That’s why scientists are getting pissed off.

Maybe scientists need to dumb it down so that you can understand?

Now, I could link to research papers, but if you don’t even understand basic science, what’s the point? So I’ll link to other places on the web to make it simpler for you to understand.

Yes, space is freezing cold. Yes stars warm up planets. But that’s where your logic ends. And forget the actual data proving that the global mean temperature is rising. Forget it.

Just take one look at the planets Mercury and Venus. Venus has an atmosphere of 96% carbon dioxide.

Mercury doesn’t have an atmosphere. In fact it has the least amount of atmosphere of all the planets in the solar system.

Mercury is closer to the sun, right, (are you still with me Malcolm?), and yet, strangely enough, it’s surface temperature is LOWER than that of Venus.


Numbers? Okay. Sure.

The surface temperature of Mercury ranges from -173°C at the poles (at night) to 427°C (daytime, equator).

In fact, at a searing 750 K (477 °C), the surface of Venus is the hottest in the solar system. Venus is closer to the Sun by 108 million km, (about 30% closer than the Earth), but it is mainly due to the planet’s thick atmosphere. Unlike Earth’s, which is composed primarily of nitrogen, oxygen and ozone, Venus’ atmosphere is an incredibly dense cloud of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gas.

The combination of these gases in high concentrations causes a catastrophic greenhouse effect that traps incident sunlight and prevents it from radiating into space. This results in an estimated surface temperature boost of 475 K (201.85 °C), leaving the surface a molten, charred mess that nothing (that we know of) can live on. Atmospheric pressure also plays a role, being 91 times that of what it is here on Earth; and clouds of toxic vapor constantly rain sulfuric acid on the surface.

In addition, the surface temperature on Venus does not vary like it does here on Earth. On our planet, temperatures vary wildly due to the time of year and even more so based on the location on our planet. The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 70.7°C in the Lut Desert of Iran in 2005. On the other end of the spectrum, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Vostok, Antarctica at -89.2 C.

But on Venus, the surface temperature is 460 degrees Celsius, day or night, at the poles or at the equator. Beyond its thick atmosphere, Venus’ axial tilt (aka. obliquity) plays a role in this temperature consistency. Earth’s axis is tilted 23.4 ° in relation to the Sun, whereas Venus’ is only tilted by 3 °.

The only respite from the heat on Venus is to be found around 50 km into the atmosphere. It is at that point that temperatures and atmospheric pressure are equal to that of Earth’s. [source]