Aboriginal elder speaks out

You know, just today [10/09/16], I overheard someone at Stanwell lookout say “Awww. You know, we live in the best country, don’t we?”. And looking around at this horrible new ‘development’ consisting of an ugly concrete non-functional ‘aesthetic’ wall including horribly kitch mosaic tiling, concrete car park & benches, stainless steel railings, stupidly symmetrical plantings (barely alive), I just had to bite my tongue and walk in the other direction. Because in that moment, I realised that we’d made that lookout way, way uglier than it did before. Seriously. Some people must be blind.

The veneration of crap.

[it’s not actually me who said that]

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Design wise, there is nothing actually ‘wrong’ with this advertisement. I’m liking/sharing this post, because designers & creatives need to see how some of their ads are being perceived out there in the real world. There’s nothing actually ‘wrong’ with the design. It’s the content that is the problem.

What I would like to see is creatives grow some balls for once, stand up and say to these companies:

“you know, it’s getting harder for us to be able to sell these fossil fuel vehicles”.

People just don’t want them. Pretty soon, graphic design alone will not be enough.

“The veneration of crap.” — Cathal Rabbitte

 

What do I think about Fidel Castro?

Well I don’t know about Fidel… I never met him… and I’ve never been to Cuba to see it with my own eyes…

But I do have an opinion on the trade embargo. I started to change my tune about Cuba when I read that the reason Cuba had missile bases… was that the US had missile bases in Turkey pointed at USSR. So that is a double standard, right there.

The US used to buy more sugar from Cuba than anywhere else. So you put this blockade in place because you think communists are ‘evil’ or something. And now you’d still rather get your sugar from the other side of the world (and pay more for it) than from your next door neighbour.

Then, if that weren’t bad enough, you allow US fisherman to compete in Cuban big game fishing competitions… provided that the competitors don’t spend a single cent in Cuba. Well, sorry, but I don’t agree with that one iota.
Yes I have bought the Che Guevara t-shirt in the past.

The ultimate cure for cancer.

Every time I see this “cure for cancer” thing mentioned, I feel compelled to inform people…

There is already a ‘cure’ for cancer. All you have to do is avoid carcinogenic chemicals! (of which many synthetic materials are made). Benzene in petrol is one. Plasticiser additives used in polymers like PVC is another. And there are a *load* of others, especially the aromatic ‘organic’ compounds.

Now if you don’t want to accept the scientific evidence for some reason (lord knows there are a lot of deniers these days), then I’ll share with you a personal anecdote: our university laboratory demonstrator… who worked in the organic chemicals lab… contracted cancer.

So now you know. That new car smell is probably not good for you…

What is the goal of humanity?

What exactly are working towards?

Is the ultimate goal happiness? Or just to survive? Or something else?

This seems to be a popular question on the quora and TED forums. I’m sure most people don’t even stop to think about it.

It seems strange that your average doughnut factory has more of a business plan than the whole of humanity.

I think it’s because there seems to be some unspoken notion that at the rate we are going we won’t really even last more than about 300-500 years, let alone 50,000 or more years. So why bother thinking about it?

Talking about our long-term future is almost a taboo subject with some people. Why is that? Is it because we have no fucking idea at all what we are doing? Is that it? Are we embarrassed? Is it because we already know that we are ‘doomed’? No? Then, what?

If we are going to survive, I think it is worth thinking about. Otherwise you have to ask yourself “why are we working so hard now?” What’s the point of it? If we’re all so doomed already, why do we bother still going to work forty or more hours a week? Eh?

So we must be working towards something. We just don’t collectively know what it is (yet). And note that I’m not talking about an ‘afterlife’. I’m talking about what will become of humanity, the world, in one million years’ time.

Assuming something terrible doesn’t happen, wouldn’t it make sense to have a “humanity plan” that we can all refer to? A humanity plan might even give us a reason to avoid WW3, WW4 and WW5. A reason to exist.

We don’t really know what we are doing let alone why we are doing it. People are feeling lost, hopeless and depressed. I think that’s why there were so many volunteers on that Mars one space mission.

The hugely controversial Dutch-based Mars One mission has admitted that only 4,227 people actually completed its application form properly, rather than 200,000 … 202,586 applicants registered their interest online in 2013.

I think the first thing we need to do is not let go of our hope. Because that’s what most people [adults] tend to do in fairly hopeless situations, isn’t it? They lose hope and then they give up. I think we need to try to remain optimistic about the future. Hope is what normally keeps us going. Hope is what motivates people. So let’s start by hoping for a better future, not a worse one. I personally think that there is hope. Not a lot of hope, but maybe –perhaps– just enough.

Hope starts with an idea. A dream, if you will. Visionaries inspire us all. Because now is the time to choose. Are we even working towards the same goal?

I ask google and the people who are asking these questions are individuals. Not governments, but individuals. Shouldn’t there be some kind of a long-term “mission statement” for each country?

Even the ancient Egyptians had more of a plan… build pyramids…

I think we need a one year plan. A ten year plan. A hundred year plan. A thousand year plan. A ten thousand year plan. A hundred thousand year plan. A million year plan. It surprises me that our entire civilisation is wandering almost completely aimlessly through time.

For example, do we want to be so addicted to technology? Won’t we become a bit borg-like if we continue unabated down that path? Is it even sustainable? Can we even know? Do we need to know? Can we still have a plan that encompasses future discoveries and inventions?

To answer this question, I think we need to ask ourselves a very important question: What de we want to become? What makes us happy? If we didn’t have to work, what do we want to do in our spare time? As soon as we know that we will know how we are going to get there.

What do you, the reader, think the goal(s) of humanity should be?

Why I am so concerned about the state of the world.

I am worried and very concerned, yes. My background is originally materials science.

From my perspective, the problem is that there is an environmental cost to every single material that you buy — be it gold, cotton, steel, or whatever. People forget that. The economy may benefit from materialism, but the environment certainly doesn’t.

Now, keep in mind that when I did my degree over 15 years ago, the ‘environment’ wasn’t even really discussed in that course. It was all about the properties and structure of materials.

First off, there is a lot of energy required to make materials. So if the country of manufacture uses coal power to generate their electricity, and they are not offsetting those emissions, then whatever physical goods you buy from them is contributing further to climate change.

Why? Because almost all materials either require either energy, heat, or other chemicals (which, in turn, require heat) in order to produce them. That’s a bit of a worry in itself. Because people are generally becoming more materialistic.

So for instance, hunters that shoot animals and think that is a ‘sustainable’ way of life, well I have news for you. If your gun is made of plastic or metal, where does that come from? It all comes from mines. And plastic comes from oil&gas. And your bullets. What are they made from? That too comes from mines. And the gunpowder contains chemicals like sulfur and potassium. And they have to come from somewhere too. And mines don’t last forever…

Currently, the manufacture of every single synthetic material results in carbon emissions somewhere along the line, if only from the energy that is required to create them. I think the correct term is “embodied energy”. [Read more…]

Green economics

What is happening to the world?

In short, most people refuse to act, because they’re be too busy justifying their need for a high standard of living, blaming governments for the situation, & avoiding the underlying social & environmental crises. This sounds like an inescapable viscous cycle to me.

Yes its all been brought about by greedy 1st world nations. Blatant consumerism- which capitalises on the latest scientific advances and all the while fueled by governments who only think in short term economic gains. The first need is to communicate the problem. The next requirement is change. People are afraid of change, but to me it seems the world is changing for the worse anyway.

Anyone who has read Schumachers book “Small is beautful” will know that over the long term, what we are doing to planet Earth surely must be considered uneconomical. Are people so afraid of change now that they’re willing to bury their heads in the sand about the future repercussions? I think where we’re headed, the changes will be a lot more daunting than the thought of giving up our most prized possessions. Chaos will be surely covered in one of my future articles, but who wants to live in a world without nature?

TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC WORKING PRINCIPLE:

  • There is a general consensus that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour
  • Businesses & Governments maximise profit, consumption and therefore economic growth
  • Employers maximise labour effort (bosses expect their “pound of flesh”)
  • Employees minimise labour effort (to work is viewed as a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort; wages being a kind of compensation)

BUDDHIST ECONOMIC PRINCIPLE OF WORK:

  • Work gives each person a chance to utilise and develop their [unique] faculties
  • Work enables humans to overcome their ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task
  • Work provides the goods and services needed for a becoming existence [creativity activity is vital]

The former, in short, tries to maximise consumption by the optimal pattern of productive effort, while the latter tries to maximise human satisfactions by the optimal pattern of consumption. It is easy to see that the effort needed sustain a way of life which seeks to attain the optimal pattern of consumption is likely to be much smaller than the effort needed to sustain a drive for maximum consumption.

It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth; not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them.

But what can we actually do about it? Firstly, don’t replace things before we need to; repair them if necessary, use them until they can no longer be repaired. Yes, there is some real satisfaction to be gained by owning things that last through time. Do we need the latest 3G phone or mobile electronic device? Buy services, not products.

Someone posted this on LinkedIn…

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And here is my internet response:

Nice looking car BUT it still has exhaust pipes. Why?

*glares at everybody in the room* [that’s right]

For fuck’s sake, companies were meant to be phasing out the internal combustion engine more than a decade ago. I know that is not what you want to hear, and actually I don’t enjoy speaking out, but honestly, someone has to. Because in today’s world, this is bullshit. You should not be allowed to even build a 503 horsepower car in the year 2016, let alone sell it.

It may *look* cool, but it is most definitely *not* cool. Do you want to know what I honestly think? I think that while it still has exhaust pipes, no combination of advertising, graphic design or industrial design can make it cool.

It’s like mechanical HDDs. We know the technology is all but dead, but people still buy them.

You can make the exterior as stylish as you want, but if there’s still a fucking combustion engine lurking in there somewhere underneath the bonnet (or wherever new place you want to put it), you –as customers– should all turn your fucking noses up at it. You should all turn your noses up in disgust. You should put on a posh voice and say “oh, darlings, exhaust pipes are so 1992 don’t you know?”.

Now, you don’t often see scientists speaking out on such matters. We tend to shut up and stay in our laboratories. Stuck behind all sorts of weird instrumentation and computer-controlled devices. And I’ll admit that most scientists have always traditionally appeared very uncool. We were usually the clever ones who were picked on most at school. As scientists, we might know a lot of shit, but the trouble is, we don’t have the power to actually persuade anyone of anything.

Well not this scientist. This scientist has also recently studied design. That’s what makes me ‘dangerous’. And among other things, design is most often used to pursuade people to buy new products and services. There’s a conundrum here though because this scientist has studied science before design. What difference does that make, you ask? It makes all the difference. It means to me, science will always drumpf design. Not the other way around.

I believe that scientists (and ex scientists for that matter, because I fall squarely into that category) all have a DUTY OF CARE to planet Earth, to call out whatever they see as unsustainable. Otherwise, you non-scientists would all be whinging in two hundred years time: “Why didn’t you tell us anything a hundred years ago? Why didn’t you warn us then?”.

Well we are warning you, now. We are all waving our fucking arms in the air effectively saying “Danger Will Robinson, danger! Climate emergency!”.

Here’s the thing: we can’t appear too emotional, because we’re scientists. It’s our job to be as unemotional and as Spock-like as humanly possible. Right? Otherwise our data, our results and conclusions may be biased by our mere ‘feelings’. And we just can’t have that. We have to be as objective as possible. So we usually keep ‘feelings’ out of it.

But I think this is actually half the reason people are still not listening to us — because there’s not enough emotion in our collective voices.

Jesus fucking Christ. What more do scientists need to do before the world starts getting it? DO YOU WANT US TO SHOUT? Do you want us to dance up and down? What!?

Now, I know that 7999 people will most probably not like my reply. But there will be a few wise ones that do like it. And gradually, I hope that small percentage goes up with time. That is the purpose of me speaking out. That is the purpose of this blog.