Well, the truth of the matter is that I’ve almost not been blogging during this time away from Tahoe at all. Part of that has been how hard I was working on the rewrite of my previously self-published book, but most was probably how depressing I’ve found the whole prospect of not being able to continue at Tahoe through winter. Not that Florence hasn’t been great. It has. Reconnecting with my Sister and her family has been a very good thing, as have been the daily walks on the beach Bro and I take.
As I reworked the previous text I discovered that I really had too much to call it a rewrite, so it’s become a new book
that incorporates enough of the old one to stand on its own without assuming the reader has even seen the first one. And that’s fortunate, since so few have.
I also learned recently that saying I self published The Call is probably improvident, since the truth is that I really did self-publish, meaning that I actually own not only the copywrite, but everything else about it, since I did it all myself. I actually am the sole owner of The Call, and, I’m told, that can make the onus of having self-published, which many traditional publishing houses apparently place on that designation all but disappear..
Anyway, being away from Tahoe hasn’t proven to be the same stimulus to writing that actual travel is, and certainly not what foreign travel is. I recently drove from mid-State Oregon all the way to San Diego for two conferences, one of writers and the other of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Driving seemed the right thing to do because they were on successive weekends and having the van would make having to stay in a motel for such an extended time unnecessary. End result is that, save for a few stops overnight with friends, where showers were generously provided, and the occasional motel when one was needed but not otherwise readily available, I’ve been living in the “bus,” as I call it, for almost three weeks. That sort of inspires like foreign travel, so I’ve gotten up the energy to write a journal entry again.
Can’t fill you in on much of what has transpired since last entry, so I’ll concentrate on the AAAS meeting, as it was the most novel. First off, you should realize that, even for the old days when I was on faculty at U.C. Davis, this would have been a stretch for me. The AAAS is one of the most prominent associations of Scientists in the world. Its weekly publication, Science, is borderline incomprehensible for some 20% of its content, and totally gibberish for the rest. A very large number of the speakers were Noble laureates. I was, if only a little, intimidated.
Still, there was little being presented in the environmentally focused talks I attended that I didn’t already fully understand. In fact, I was largely struck by the lack of imagination I saw in even this group. For example, the panel on the ethics of space exploration presented very thorough analyses of the implications of both forward and reverse contamination, i.e., of inadvertently “infecting” either an alien world with Earth-based organisms or the opposite; but never in the light of the ethical consideration were it to be the case that the Earth-based Life Force might actually not survive at all without an intentional move off the planet.
In view of the overwhelming evidence of climate change and run-away human expansion, such an oversight is little more than missing the forest for the trees. I had hoped that this group would, at least, be aware of the potentially disastrous possibility of such a catastrophe and be talking about it. But no such luck.
Of course, many would simply point out that the lack of concern demonstrated [**thesarus] by such an auspicious group is sufficient evidence to quiet worry-warts like myself. But, then, most people seemed to trust the brokers, lenders, and real estate mavens prior to the Bush era collapse. And, I assure you, the vast majority of these scientists have examined the worst case scenarios only about as closely as did the brokers, lenders, and salesmen. That doesn’t look so smart from this side of the crash.
I may be paranoid, but I’m not wrong in pointing out that, because of the 300 to 900 year lead time required to get Humans off this planet, we have to be addressing this question right now. If there’s even the slightest chance we might be the cause of the loss of all life on this planet, then there would be no option than to get off the planet. And it’s not at all clear, as far as I can see, that Humans are going to last anywhere nearly that long. There’s simply no excuse for not imagining such a possibility while there’s still a chance of doing something about it.
One aspect of the meeting which contributed to the blind spot was the degree of confidence radiating from this collection of learned individuals. They are the experts that can get incredible things done. And they know it. As a consequence, they have almost infinite faith in science to intervene successfully in battling every new problem we might encounter.
What I have that they seem to lack is a belief that every technological solution to any problem leads, sooner or later, to a worse situation than existed when there was only the initial problem to contend with. One plus of this meeting was a luncheon discussion I had with an impressive fellow from Exeter College in England. He commented that the Freon refrigerants were touted as miracle solutions to perish ability problems prior to the discovery of the effects of HFC’s on the ozone layer, and, before that, the inclusion of lead in gasoline was thought to be another magic bullet. My examples had always stopped at the horse manure problem and the wonderful solution of the automobile before we realized what burning all that gas meant for the planet.
I’m frequently asked whether the end of the world, as I saw it, was due to climate change. My response is always the same: that wasn’t a part of the Vision. I certainly hope we’ll come up with some solution to that problem, but I don’t imagine that such an achievement will do more than delay the outcome. Life on this planet is like a top. It’s spun flawlessly from many millennia. Now we’re seeing wobbles of a completely unique type. Not set on a slow spiral toward oblivion by normal decay, but by the weight of one specific species’ disproportionate success. That compounded by that species’ penchant for being so extraordinary clever.
If only our wisdom was commensurate with our technology.