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More Thoughts for Tomorrow


My battery-operated hedge cutter came with an instruction manual of about 300 pages. OK, detailed instructions? Not at all - I tore out the one single page in English and recycled the rest!

Imagine the waste generated all over the world by purchases of this hedge cutter as each buyer discards every page not in their own language. Imagine the energy needed to deliver these unnecessarily heavy manuals, the trees felled to make it possible and the admin costs of organising scores of translations, probably directed from a single country. It's an obvious example of waste but created in ways that can be difficult to assess because of our reliance on complex transport and communications systems.

Is waste unavoidable? Just take a look at Nature. Here's an extremely complex system of systems where recycling is the norm and nothing goes to waste. For us, production and consumption may be necessary but can't we learn to restrain our activities without exploiting natural resources so that the entire planet with all its lifeforms, including ourselves, is threatened by our wasting ways?

Your answers are welcome!


Electrification is the name
of the game?

My Nissan vehicle is about six years old and going strong but in a few years time we're all going electric. What to do? I like the idea of driving an electric vehicle (EV) with its great acceleration, quiet engine and zero exhaust emissions ..... The benefits are clear but looking at the larger picture, are EVs all they're cracked up to be?

Apparently, Volvo claims that emissions while constructing an electric vehicle can be 70% higher in comparison with vehicles driven by fossil fuel! The heavy lithium-ion batteries currently used by electric cars are energy-intensive in manufacture and also depend on rare earth metals with environmental and social problems caused by mining. Technological solutions are hardly on the horizon so the situation can only worsen as more and more people gradually replace their old vehicles with electric ones, using batteries with difficult disposable problems.

What can be done right now? Well, for a start, we could simply hold on to our fossil fuel vehicles but drive them less. Also, let's have some restraint on the sales culture that says you have to have a new vehicle every 3 years or so. In the long term, do we really need so many individual vehicles? Could we not make more use of public transport or cycling or even walking? Are all the highways and byways really necessary in view of the environmental problems they cause by their continual construction and maintenance? What do you think?


Lost in the Jungle

"If your SatNav fails - follow the sun!"

After 40 days in the Amazon jungle the child survivors of the plane crash were found. The western expertise and technology practiced by the regular soldiers along with the jungle knowhow and ancestral knowledge of indigenous helpers, led to a successful rescue. Fortunately, the children were also indigenous and the oldest, following the wisdom of her grandmother, knew how to find edible fruits and water.

This first hand example of cooperation is very clear and caused some of the soldiers to change their thoughts about Colombia's indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, ideas about 'primitive' lifestyles, 'savages' etc, handed down in western cultures are difficult to change although it's accepted by the UN and many others that the practices and traditions of indigenous peoples are important for today's social and ecological problems. For example, would modern agriculture, with its pollution and biodiversity loss, not benefit from the more sustainable practices of indigenous peoples? Respect the bonds connecting all people with the Earth and all other lifeforms?

There are many other examples of potential benefit arising from indigenous lifestyles such as respect for the wisdom of elders and real concern for unborn generations. You don't have to live in a cave or hunt with bows and arrows! Find out what's relevant for you and your community and you may be surprised.

So - I haven't thrown away my SatNav but I'll be following the sun too!


Be The Change!

For many of us climate change is right on our own doorsteps - now; floods, hurricanes, rising sea levels and even smoke from distant forest fires cause local damage and pollution as never before. Global Climate Strike IMG 4101 (49142558522) This ought to concentrate minds but those in power are slow to take radical collective action. So it now seems likely that global warming will continue to rise causing progressively greater disruption for all life. Expect massive migrations away from threatened areas, failures in food supply and distribution and if warming becomes really extreme, societal breakdown and even mass extinction becomes a real possibility.

All doom and gloom then? I don't think so. 'Business as usual' is not an option and lifestyle changes will be necessary but however drastic they turn out to be the opportunity is always there to lessen negative impacts for the greater good. In the absence of leadership by the powers that be massive action at a grassroots level can make a real difference. Plenty information is available about what anyone can do according to their abilities and personal circumstances.

Also, be aware that responding well to climate and environmental issues and working effectively towards solutions is driven more by emotion rather than intellect. Think of your children, grandchildren and future generations. Cultivate climate wisdom in tune with your beliefs, be they religious, philosophical, political, whatever. Choose your path wisely and with humility.

Be the change you want to see in the world!


Drawbridges up or Down?

Business as Usual?
Here, rolling back Green spending before elections. There, waging disinformation wars rather than turning off the oil wells. No problem, technological advances are on the way. Yes, fossil fuel emissions came down a little at first but then global warming was suddenly accelerated by thawing permafrost in the Arctic. This was the first of a cascade of tipping points causing irreversible climate damage, environmental changes and devastation never seen before. Too late for most of the human population and the natural world but not for the affluent few with the vast resources needed to isolate and insulate their gated communities. As warming exceeded the 3C mark, up came the drawbridges with no mercy for those left outside ......

New Age?
Following a regime change, massive deforestation recontinued in the Amazon triggering popular uprisings around the world that no politician could ignore. A hastily convened international conference actually achieved majority agreement and a large UN rescue mission was funded and assembled to enforce it. Many countries adopted wartime-like measures to rein in emissions and protect the most vulnerable from the harshest lifestyle changes. Some reluctant countries, faced with invasion, finally agreed to necessary measures and funding was made available. Emissions rapidly dwindled to zero and a new era for humanity was forged ......

Extreme scenarios and speculative detail? - no doubt! So do we just muddle through in some middle way and pay the price or is there real hope for humanity?


The Reality of Travel

Limited travel, particularly international travel, will place demands on the Internet that current services don't usually provide. For example, consider simulating face-to-face meetings with loved ones in a remote country. Video and sound is readily available with a 2D screen but there's little perception of actually being together in the same intimate space.

The 'metaverse' is a 3D, virtual world, an internet space based on Virtual Reality (VR). Billions are being spent on this unreal world as resources in the real world dwindle and sadly, the current focus is on economic growth. VR-AR-XR Headset 2But VR has the potential to play a positive role in the real world to come. Despite the clunky headsets the perception of being somewhere else with other people, immersed in a 3D, 360 degree environment, can be very convincing. But could VR transmit that special hug for your mother in a realistic way? Well, haptic technology can even provide some degree of touch and feel.

Other ways that VR can effectively replace the need for real world travel include:

Empathy building - Interact with others more directly affected by climate emergencies.

Education - Kids take lessons together in the same virtual classroom.

Medical - Detailed examinations by remote doctors in the privacy of virtual surgeries.

These approaches and others may rely on advanced VR features not yet in common use but improvements in technology are likely to reduce costs. Let's keep the virtual world but only in the service of the real one!


Get ready for tomorrow.

"Be The Change!" I trumpet when writing about the lifestyle changes that climate change will bring. Evidently most people are now becoming concerned about climate but what can individuals do - or not do? That is the question. Perhaps the '4 Rs' might help.

  1. Resilience: What of value do we want to keep?
  2. Relinquishment: What will it help to lose?
  3. Restoration: What benefits can be restored from the past?
  4. Reconciliation: What of morality? How to make peace with the planet - and each other!
Everyone will have their own answers and do what they are moved to do depending on their priorities, values, dedication and the time and effort required. There are many possibilities for community action and many activist groups to join and support. There's imaginative projects such as the collection and charitable distribution of food and other materials from shops and businesses that would otherwise go to waste.

What can you do personally? Go vegan or vegetarian, fine, but no need to be perfectionist and disrespect those who enjoy the occasional beef sandwich! What about direct action and civil disobedience? Plenty to consider there but the balance might lie in doing small things well rather than risk doing big things badly. Influence others by making your views and concerns known to local politicians, community leaders and anyone else. Demand change by all means but better still, "Be the Change" yourself!


Artificial Intelligence and Real Stupidity.

AI's ability to analyze and detect complex patterns in massive data sources is expected to bring new tools for the good of humanity. Examples applied to climate change and environmental issues include efficient monitoring of indicators such as CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, changes in the mass of glaciers, rising sea levels, methane emissions and deforestation. Activities such as the design of energy-efficient buildings and the efficient use of renewable energy can also benefit.

All well and good but apart from its huge demands for energy, careless development of AI could be disastrous. AI is already used to generate videos that create realistic but fake images of celebrities falsely advertising products. There may be worse to come. For example, how, if at all, should AI bring persons, 'back from the dead'? Seeing a realistic Elvis in new performances could be harmless enough entertainment but what if future developments make realistic face-to-face interactions with an apparently real Elvis possible? Also, the ability to create as many new episodes as you like of your favorite television programs is evidently a fascinating possibility for the future.

But fascination can be dangerous if large numbers of individuals become obsessed and isolated in unreal worlds of their own making and are also at the mercy of those seeking to broadcast disinformation about climate and political issues in ways that AI could make more and more convincing. Isn't isolation from reality the very opposite of what's needed to face the climate emergency? No easy answers but free and unregulated Artificial Intelligence is Real Stupidity!


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