1: A New Perspective

Preventing Extinction:
Chapter One:  A New Perspective ive On the Human Condition

 

The book Preventing Extinction  looks at the realities of existence for humans on Earth from a non-standard perspective. 

We are used to looking at the problems that threaten us from the inside because, well, we are insiders. 

We are here. 

We want to solve the problems of course.  If we don’t, we are gone.  But we are all looking at the problems differently, from our own individual perspectives.  We have our personal interests.  As we move toward solutions, we want to protect them. 

If you are too close to a problem, often you can miss the big picture.  We are all insiders, intimately involved in complex social, political, and economic relationships that take place on this little blue speck of cosmic dust of a world.  It is hard to put together a picture of the world situation without including ourselves in it.  It is hard to get the big picture.  If there are solutions that an outsider might see, we won’t see them.

This book takes a different perspective.  Imagine you were in a position to look at events on Earth from the outside.  Say you are part of a group of scientists on some other world who are in a position to watch us.  (Perhaps, they may watch us by watching our electronic feeds, almost all of which are broadcast in some way as radio or other electromagnetic waves that travel through space at the speed of light.)  They can see us and how we live on this little world, but they aren’t personally involved.  They have no vested interests to protect. 

People in this position would almost certainly look at the realities of existence of humans on Earth differently than we do. 

They wouldn’t have the great interest in the current makeup of each of the tribal units (the things we on Earth call ‘countries,’ of which there are more than 250) that we have, worrying about the personality and party affiliation of the leaders of each of these units, or the intricate details of the laws (who can marry whom, for example, which ‘countries’ give females the rights to control their own bodies, which allow people to use recreational drugs).  They wouldn’t analyze the conflicts between these ‘countries’ from a moral perspective, to see which was ‘in the wrong’ in each of the organized mass murder events called ‘wars’ that are ongoing at any given time. 

They would look at the big picture. 

They would just see the Earth and its dominant species, the human race.  They would see the currently living members of the human race have inherited dangerous and destructive societies.  These societies divide the human race into different tribal units (the things we call ‘countries’) that then compete against each other in a kind of global sport to gain special rights for the people of their tribal unit (country) at the expense of the others. 

They would examine the way this type of society came to exist when it first appeared.  They would then study the way this particular societal prototype evolved, once it first came to exist, to see how it eventually took the form it takes now.  This particular method of organization is extremely dangerous, because its inherent incentives reward conflict.  (Countries that can ‘conquer’ land can keep anything it produces for the rest of time or anything it contains to the center of the Earth, to use for the benefit of the conquerors.  The rewards for organized mass murder on a massive scale are enormous.)  At first, when the race that has these systems is primitive and has nothing but sticks and rocks for weapons, this kind of system only causes misery, death, and hardship; it does not threaten the race of beings that has it.  But once they gain technology that allows them to wipe out of the planet, the stresses of this system push them closer and closer to extinction each day that passes. 

They would be interested in Earth history. 

But they would almost not pay much attention to events presented to earthling school children as ‘history.’  They wouldn’t care much about the names of the tribes and countries that fought in each of the endless wars on this little world, the dates of key battles, and the identities of the leaders who did such damage to their ‘enemies’ that they gained the right to call themselves the ‘winners’ of the wars. 

They would care more about the basic forces within the societies that Earth people had that pushed them to act the way they acted. 

They wouldn’t pay a lot of attention to individual destructive events.  They probably wouldn’t care about the names of the individuals involved with each event and the possible moral defects of these people.  They probably wouldn’t worry much about who should be ‘blamed’ for each of these individual destructive activities that have taken place over Earth history and whether the people at each time who judged them gave them an appropriate punishment for the harm they did to the world.  They would look at the basic nature of the forces that allow something that clearly reduces the amount of wealth that exists on Earth (destroying things of value clearly reduces global wealth) to somehow, make the ones who destroy wealthy. 

It seems that this is a paradox. 

It seems like there is something wrong with a key relationship that should always should but doesn’t seem to hold on Earth.  If you destroy more than you produce, you have to pay costs (for the things you destroy) that are greater than your revenues (from the things you produce) so you should lose money.  It should never be profitable to do something that has higher costs than benefits.  But, somehow, it isn’t just profitable, it is fantastically profitable on Earth to destroy parts of the planet. 

Why is this? 

They probably wouldn’t think in terms of ‘this is wrong with Earth societies,’ as if making some sort of moral analysis or trying to figure out who may have made mistakes.  They would probably think in technical terms, saying ‘these are the characteristics that Earth societies have that make organized, planned, and well funded mass murder events (wars) a part of their systems’ and ‘these are the characteristics that Earth societies have that make it profitable to do things that should never be profitable.’ 

They wouldn’t have the emotional baggage we have. 

They would be able to think objectively. 

That is the perspective we need if we are to solve our problems. 

 

A New Perspective and New Approach to Solutions

 

This book looks at the realities of life on Earth from the perspective of unbiased and objective observers.  They don’t have any stake whatever in the events that are ongoing on this little blue speck of dust of a world. 

To them, it is just an academic matter. 

The Earth beings appear to have at least some level of intelligence.  They have invented and use radio systems that transmit enormous amounts of data, video, audio, and communicate in incredibly intricate ways with others on their world and machines of fantastic complexity.  The video shows they have rockets that can send satellites to orbit; the satellites fill the sky and allow communication over any distance in real time.  Most of this communication involves sending radio waves that travel in all directions at the speed of light.  (They will eventually reach other inhabited worlds, if there are any.)  The humans have fantastic technology.  They have cars, jets, ships that act as mobile airports, and can build machines that are able to communicate so well that it isn’t really possible to tell that they are machines. 

Yet they have incredible problems.  They are engaged in wars at this very minute.  (It doesn’t matter what minute you are reading this:  the wars never stop.)  These wars are not spur-of-the-moment lashings out in anger that may be explained by the emotional instability of these beings.  They are massive events that are planned decades or even generations in advance.  We all know they are coming; while we may not know exactly how many of the words 250+ countries will be at war tomorrow, we know the number will be greater than zero.  They cause more misery and agony than anything else on the planet, and they are clearly done intentionally. 

And that is only one of the extinction-level problems the human race has.  They have enough energy from non-destructive sources to meet all their needs, yet they use tax dollars taken from the workers (who need the money to feed their children) to pay giant corporations to rape the world for oil, coal, and gas, which they then burn to create energy that they could get for free without destroying anything.  The process of burning is not just wasteful, it is also destructive:  each day they pour billions of tons of toxins into their air, onto their land, and into their water.  These toxins built up so rapidly that anyone monitoring the Earth from some other planet would be able to see the atmosphere changing day by day. 

Why do the (supposedly) intelligent beings on this little blue world act act this way? 

The modes of existence or ‘societies’ of these beings are dangerous, violent, and destructive.  They grow more dangerous, violent and destructive as technology advances, because the technology makes them better able to do the things their societies push them to do.  (Their societies push them to form into tight-knit and loyal tribes called ‘countries,’ then to organize mass murder events called ‘wars’ to compete to gain ‘territory and the ability to rape the world for profit from other countries.  Each advance in technology gives then new tools to do this.  their societies have forces that make it profitable to rape their world of its wealth and convert this wealth to toxins, which they then use to contaminate their atmosphere.  Each new advance in technology makes them able to do this faster and more thoroughly.)

 

Sound Societies

 

I think it helps gain perspective if we look at little closer at the way that outsiders would view us.  First let’s set the scene.  There is a densely populated (with star systems and habitable worlds) disk in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy where most of the intelligent beings (if there were any) would likely to be located.  We are way, way, way out in the sticks compared to this central disk. 

We are 20,000 light years from the edge of this ‘densely populated’ area and 28,000 light years from its center.  (For reference, if you traveled at the speed of light, you could circle the entire planet Earth ten times in a single second.  At this speed, it would take you 20,000 light years to get to the central area.) 

If accepted laws of physics are correct, information that Earth beings even exist won’t reach any densely populated part of the galaxy for tens of thousands of years.  Perhaps, 19,875 years from now the very first radio signals Marconi sent out to test his wireless device will reach an inhabited world in the part of the galaxy where such worlds are likely to be found.  Perhaps, when they start getting signals, they will start monitoring us and, perhaps, in 20,000 or 30,000 years, they will learn about how we live in what we call the 21st century, by interpreting our television and internet signals. 

They would, of course, have a lot more neighbors than we have.  They will have studied many worlds and understand the different ways that intelligent beings (or beings that are technologically capable, if you prefer to think that we don’t really qualify as ‘intelligent beings’) can organize themselves. 

They will have names for the different types of societies that thinking beings can have.  Some of these societies are destructive and dangerous.  They work in ways that induce the individuals in them to do things that harm their world and their race as a whole.  If the individuals react to the incentive structures, meaning if they try to do what brings the most in profits for them personally, they do things that harm their world and their race as a whole.  In some of the societies they look at, the interests of the individuals within society will conflict with the interests of society as a whole.  We will examine a great many different ways that societies can work later in this book and we will see that it is simply impossible to make a society works if it operates this way. 

In other societies, the interests of the individuals will coincide with the interests of society as a whole.  Such systems will be naturally non-destructive and non violent. 

 

Normally, people have to pay for the value they use up or destroy in production and get paid for the value they create.  This does not happen in current Earth societies, for reasons we will look at shortly, bit it is possible for it to happen and there are almost certainly societies in this vast universe where it does happen.  If people pay costs equal to the value they destroy and get revenue equal to the value they create, their profits coincide exactly with the value they add to the world.  If they react to incentives, and try to make profits, they will naturally increase the things of value of all kinds (including the ‘value’ of clean air and the ‘value’ of not having to worry about being blown up by a nuclear bomb tomorrow) will increase whenever individuals make profits.  The interests of individuals will coincide with those of society.
       We will see that almost all societies intelligent beings can have work as descried above.  If we had designed the societies we have now, we would have picked one of these and put it into place.  But the societies we have now (the ones that divide the human race into tribal units called ‘countries’ that fight over territory) were not designed by intelligent humans.  In fact, we will see they aren’t even human societies, in the strictest sense of the word, because they work the exact same way as many animals that existed for millions of years before the first humans even evolved.  These are animal societies, and are not suitable for humans. 
       We would expect that beings from other worlds watching us would see this immediately.  We, here on this planet, are looking too closely at details to see the big picture, and it seems to have escaped notice.

 

Most likely, if they were getting signals that are being generated on Earth in the 21st century, but they are receiving 20,000 years after they were generated, they wouldn’t worry about figuring out the names of the individuals that are reacting to the incentives and doing things that harm the human race and planet Earth. 

What do the names of these people matter? 

This information would be as useless to them as the names of the people who had reacted to the same incentives in neanderthal times (we will see that neanderthal societies operated the same way) would be to us now. 

There are a lot of wars going on as I write this in the 21st century.  You would not expect the beings on a world studying us from our signals to really take a side in any of these wars.  They would not really think in the way that we think, with our emotions telling us that someone must be to blame and our first priority is to punish them, even if we must kill millions of people and place the existence of our race at risk to make sure this happens.  (The emotions that push toward war are very strong.  People will do horrible things to themselves, if necessary, to make sure that horrible things happen to the ones they hate.)  

You would expect them to look at the basic forces that shaped the human race and the way their societies worked in early stages (perhaps long before true humans even evolved).  They would want to know how these societies changed, over time, to take the shape they were at when they sent the signals that they were watching in our 21st century. 

That is the approach this book takes.  I don’t care about who is right or wrong in each of the destructive activities going on and in each war.  I care about the role the human race plays, and can play, in events that transcend our current problems.  I claim that, if we look at our situation from the right perspective, we will see solutions that we would never see if we are mired in hatred, anger, and other animalistic passions.  This book is not about blame.  It is not about revenge.  It is not about ‘making them pay.’  It about the problems that may be faced by the beings on a world that are slowly evolving from primitive and savage beasts (our ancestors were apes) toward higher intellect. 

I believe these problems are not unique to Earth.  I think that many worlds are suitable for life and whatever events caused life to exist here happened on many of these other worlds.  I think that there are sates in the evolution of such beings and obstacles they must overcome in order to get to a point where they are truly intelligent.  I think we are at a stage that is common to beings that have the general characteristics that humans have on Earth.  I think there are ways to get past these obstacles. 

I think that the human race is still primitive in evolutionary terms.  We have great abilities in some areas.  We can solve technical problems of immense complexity, splitting atoms, creating ‘messenger’ RNA sequences that, if injected into bodies, reorganize the sequences of the DNA in the cells of these beings, and sending vehicles into space beyond our solar system.  Some parts of our brains are very well advanced and fantastically capable. 

But forces behind evolution don’t affect all parts of our minds equally.  Some parts are very well developed because they have to be, for evolutionary reasons.  Our evolutionary ancestors divided themselves into tribal units and fought wars with other tribal units over feeding territory.  The tribes that gained control over the territory got food and therefore survived; the losers generally perished.  Any evolutionary advantage that helped build tools or devise tactics that were useful in war helped them in their struggle for survival.  Nature ‘selected’ the best at war for survival and ‘selected’ those not good at war for death.  The brain lobes that were helpful to them for building weapons and organizing tactics of combat and conflict developed quickly. 

These brain lobes can be used to help us build better triggers and firing devices for nuclear bombs.  But we don’t have to use them for this purpose.  We have free will.  We can decide what we want to think about and we can decide how we want to use our great intellectual capabilities.  If we want, we can decide we want to use our great intellect to help us understand the big picture.  We can gain understanding of the basic forces that operate within the societies of intelligent beings (or beings that are evolving in ways that will eventually make them intelligent beings, if you think that we don’t really qualify as ‘intelligent’).  We can use our intellect to help us understand the natural forces that would align the interests of the individuals within society with those of society as a whole and the way that the systems we have now prevent these forces from working.  We can use these skills to mentally design sound societies.  We can use these skills to help us understand the steps that we must take to cause the course of human progress to change, so that the unsound societies we inherited will evolve in ways that will take them, eventually, to sound societies. 

We can use our incredible mental capabilities to take control of our destiny.  We don’t have to remain on the path we are now on, the one that leads to extinction.  There are many paths that we can take into the future.  We can use our incredible mental capabilities to take control of our destiny, choose the path we want to be on, and get onto that path.

That is what this book is about.

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