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Inventive Man:

By 1066 A.D., about 6000 windmills were in use in England. Following this was the use of water power through the next century. People used water power for diverse applications, such as grinding corn, sawing wood and forging iron. For the production of iron and bronze, a water wheel was used to drive the bellows of a blast furnace.

In 1556, George Bauer published his (Latinized as Agricola) (1494-1555) illustrated book on mining, mining machinery, and metals - the "De re metallica",  (Cardwell, 1994). It was used as a standard reference for 150 years! He described various windlasses, winches, wheelbarrows and small trucks for moving ores. He designed railway trucks, or "dogs" for moving ores out of the mines. To keep the mines free of water, he also designed seven different types of suction pumps. A massive water wheel drove one multiple pump. Widgets

Mining at greater depths showed that there was a limit to how high a vacuum pump could raise water. The water wheel had limitations and they tried to find other ways of pumping water from mines. In 1672, Otto von Guericks established the principle that a cylinder and piston can exert powerful forces when the piston is exhausted of air. He experimented with an air pump. This was a potential, new source of power (Cardwell, 1994). In 1690, Denis Papin (1647-1714) proposed the use of boiling water at the base of a cylinder to drive a piston. The piston would rise on the steam, they could then remove fire and, with the cylinder cooling, the steam would condense and atmospheric pressure would drive the piston down again.

Use of machinery and the arrival of mass production has created a consumer society. Internal combustion engines replaced horse drawn machinery as an early step in this shift. Fertiliser use, irrigation, mechanisation and selective breeding or other genetic manipulations increased crop production. Populations boomed, but so did the negative impact upon the environment. Farmers have again reached limits to crop productivity, so that farmers in the united States use 7 to 10 times as much fertiliser as developing countries, but only produce double the grain yield per unit of land. Also, the increased energy input to achieve these yields means that while a hunter gatherer requires only 2000 to 5000 kilocalories, early agricultural societies needed 20,000 kilocalories per person daily, early industrial societies, 60,000 kilocalories and modern industrial societies, 120,000 kilocalories (Chiras, 1994)! Pollution in many forms has also become a problem.

By the sixteenth century, machinery such as the printing press, windmill, lever, pulley, pump, clock and wheelbarrow were common features of daily life in Europe (Cardwell, 1994). Technology was beginning to ease human life. By 1850 machines did 35% of the work in an industrial country and animals another 52%. By 1986, machines did 98% of the work, with animals and people each doing 1% of the work. Widgets

Human Environmental Impacts

Agricultural societies cause more harm to the environment than hunter gatherers, but the most damaging is the industrial society that evolved and prevails today. Industrial technology emerged with the steam engine, factories and mass production, only 200 years ago.

With most industrial people growing up without contact with either agriculture (see books) or nature in its natural form, the human relationship with nature has changed. Spurred on by Darwinian images of the survival of the fittest, society has resorted to controlling nature and changing it to serve human needs. Industrial people (city dwellers) see themselves as separate from nature. This new perception took hold in the middle ages, leading up to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. Whereas Francis Bacon observed that "Now the empire of man over things is founded on the arts and the sciences alone for nature is only to be commanded by obeying her ," by the time of Descartes, technological innovations had influenced humanities' relation to and perception of nature. Descartes instead promoted that humanity can ". . . acquire a type of knowledge that will be of the greatest use to mankind and that in place of the Scholastic philosophy (Aristotelianism) we can establish a practical one where by understanding the forces of fire, water, air, the heavenly bodies - all physical things about us - as clearly as we understand the skilled trades, we shall be able to apply them in a similar way to appropriate uses and so give us command over nature " (Cardwell, 1994).

Various perceptions and misconceptions of the nineteenth century sustained the destruction of nature:
[1] No limits were seen in the supply of resources from nature .

This was especially so from an economic perspective. Nature originally seemed so abundant that it seemed impossible that humans could threaten the existence of a species. A classic example is the carrier pigeon. These birds were good to eat and very abundant. Audubon once declared that "The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific and having vast forests of the north as its breeding grounds, travelling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen them or be missed from the myriads that are yearly produced" (Verney, 1979). Hunters killed an average of 10,000,000 birds a year in the Middle West between 1867 and 1877. Birds were netted, shot and even knocked out of the sky as flocks flew by, using rakes, sticks and spades! In 1878, for 30 days on end, five freight cars a day went to the market filled with passenger pigeons. The last passenger pigeon died in September 1914.

[2] Next, there was a belief that "scientists" would come up with another solution. Before 1839, they called men of science philosophers, then, similar to the term "artist", the term " scientist " became established over a few decades (Cardwell, 1994). Widgets

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the green revolution of agriculture (see books), crop production of rice and wheat increased dramatically. Today people place their hopes on biotechnology and other new technology to manage the various problems and limits that are emerging. Widgets Widgets

However, the rate of impact is increasing exponentially! Even today most people do not believe that there is a serious problem. A simple calculation illustrates that the problem is greater than we can imagine. Paul and Anne Erlich proposed a formula to model the human impact on the environment. They made various assumptions:

[i] We need to halve our impact (I) upon the environment, as the impact is already unsustainable. The earth cannot sustain the projected growth in the world's population, nor our current patterns and levels of consumption (Kennedy, 1993).

[ii] Populations (P) will double to 10 billion by the year 2050 (a projection of current growth trends).

[iii] Current development trends mean that the average consumption (C) per person will quadruple by 2050, largely through increased affluence of developing countries such as China and India.

[iv] To handle these changes will require technology (T) to adjust the "environmental intensity of consumption" ( see below )(Ekins, 1993).

This formula then becomes:

I = PCT.

Where the subscript 2 is the future condition and 1 is the present,

I2 = 1/2 I1

P2 = 2P1

C2 = 4C1

and I2 = 2P1*4C1*1/16T1.

In other words technological innovation must reduce our technological intensity (T) to 1/16 of its present level by the year 2050 to effectively counter the current growth trends. Clearly, we cannot return to hunter gatherer type lifestyles, so a control of population growth is the main tool at our disposal. We will, by necessity, depend heavily upon technology and innovations to create a more benign existence of humanity with nature.

Reducing consumption can also be very effective. To do so would require some major changes in our lifestyles. An average American eats 68 kilograms of grain per person annually, while 680 kilograms of grain per person is fed to U.S. livestock each year! In developing countries the total grain consumption averages 180 kilograms per person per year, mostly eaten directly.

Note that the " environmental intensity of consumption " (T) is not equivalent to the energy consumption of an individual. Energy consumption can be high while T is still low. This would require that energy consumption be environmentally benign. T is equivalent to the interactive factor ( i-factor ), discussed in the chapter on the modified Lotka Volterra  ( MELV) model . The basic conclusion here is the same as deduced from the model. We need to reduce T, or the interactive effects upon the environment. Our impact upon the environment has to be drastically reduced if we wish to maintain the present quality of life of the West. This is the essence of compatibility and its expression can take many forms.

[3] We incorrectly perceive humans as apart from nature and not subject to her natural laws. People who live in cities or urban dwellings and shop in supermarkets easily forget that they are a part of nature. I sat with two teenage, city-dwelling Scientologists once as they discussed a cat. Dogs they said had some use as they could bark and protect one. They concluded that cats served no purpose! Little did they guess the impact of cats upon the city's rodent population.

[4] Since at least the time of Darwin's ideas on evolution through natural selection, society has seen nature as something to be controlled, managed or modified to serve human needs. To be free of natural forces required altering the very structure of natural systems (Chiras, 1994).

We need a new view of nature, as described by the Brundtland Commission: "We have the power to reconcile human affairs with natural laws. And to thrive in the process. In this, our cultural and spiritual heritage can reinforce our economic interests and survival imperatives" (Finger, 1993).

Reducing human impacts on nature

For a discussion on how humanity can reduce its impact, the "environmental intensity of consumption " (T), I have added another chapter, Reducing human Impact upon Nature . This chapter is not in the current, published edition of Nature's Holism. Widgets

3.  MODERN SOCIETY - The road ahead:

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Religion, sport, entertainment, work and family dominate modern technological society. Our identity is largely defined within the context of these categories. Entertainment is a diverse category, involving anything from music, to stamp collecting that is not competitive. Religion deals with life and our relation to God and death. Perhaps we should include philosophy for those who approach to life is without a thought for God. Work is the economic role we serve in society. Sport is the organised competitive interaction performed in a social context. Family involves the familial obligations and sexual relations that bind us culturally. If we are doing something, it may be placed into one of these categories. Some aspects such as sex may become distorted and serve as entertainment instead of procreation. Modern life is too diverse to be described in this book, so the story of man ends here.

At the other apparent extreme, but is what is really the human norm is poverty. The majority of humanity do not have access to this information you are reading and a large proportion have to get by on a US$1.00 per day. For these people survival is the main urge, with leisure and luxury very distant ideals. Others are subject to the horrors of war and injustice. For humanity to become fully civilised and to completely realise the fruits of technology, there are a few aspects of the modern world that need attention:

These are childish ideals that even a junior schoolchild can recognise, but that currently, organisations such as the United Nations and the Food and Agricultural Organisation, are unable to attain. The qualities of life that we value and hold dear, are currently not sustainable. We live on an energy joyride of fossil fuels, rapidly consuming a non-renewable resource and causing environmental and ecological degradation in the process. Those unable to contribute to the modern economic machine face extreme poverty, as ecosystems become less and less able to sustain further exploitation and society protects and rewards the providers. This is compounded by international policies such as the governmental subsidies for farmers found in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. From 2002 to 2012, $19 billion per annum in subsidies is budgeted for U.S. farmers, keeping their crop prices high. To prevent other countries from supplying this market, huge tariffs are put on imported crops to inflate their prices, making such exports to the U.S. unviable.

With agricultural production in poorer countries providing up to 50% of GDP (3% in rich countries), subsidies and tariffs have massive impacts. The World Bank, with reputable statistics,  estimates that these trade barriers cost poorer countries six times what the same rich countries provide in the form of aid. Another reliable statistic, provided by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development puts the cost of trade barriers on exports from poor countries at $14 for every dollar the same countries receive in aid (Robinson, 2002).

The logic in this is that were these poor countries allowed to compete, the USA would be unable to maintain the standard of living currently enjoyed by its farmers.  President Bush clearly outlined this aim when he said subsidies were increased to "promote farmer independence and preserve the farm way of life for generations." One may be critical of such an approach,  but in a way, this is an ecological response establishing stability within a region. However, when it is followed by exploitation of the same poorer countries, it becomes unjust. The solution lies in promoting local industries, local consumption and intensive education, so that standards of living can be raised through the training and efforts of the people in those regions. It is important to prevent the exploitation of the resources of poorer countries.

Immense social upheaval faces humanity. As we enter the 21st century there should be a greater tolerance and compatibility between social groups. Peace should be the rule. We are seeing the opposite happening in many parts of the world. In 2000 and 2001 the USA adopted a warring stance, defining the world by the dichotomy of terrorists and those who are with America. The world's leadership spends $800 billion on armaments and other defence expenditure. The U. S. spends $331 billion of that, and early in 2002, President Bush asked for a $48 billion increase in defence spending. This makes Americans by far the most insecure nation. Nature's Holism defines a path to peace. In it we discover that peace emerges from the chaos of the universe. True leadership can find peace in any situation, though the longer retribution and retaliation are followed the more difficult is it to remove the hate that breeds murderous actions.

Beyond the social evolution that afflicts humanity with conflicting ideals and beliefs, I think all can agree that we need to take better care of the earth. Whether a Buddhist, Scientologist, Monotheist, Hindu, atheist or whatever conviction, there is a dire need to reduce our impact upon nature. This is too the impact upon our fellow human beings. With Thomas Hobbes, we find a foundation for social justice and the simplest mind can understand the same need for peace. To direct only one billion US$ to conflict resolution would change the world and bring greater security. The United Nations was created for such a purpose but has become a toothless dog that hardly dare to whimper. Within its structure, a foundation for international peace formulations could be established, giving people both freedom and responsibility within a global nation. Thomas Hobbes created the framework and a body  such  as the United Nations could bear it. However, there seems to be diverse selfish agendas preventing true peace resolution. This can be seen the the rejection by the U.S. of the landmine ban, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

An understanding of genetics and its medical impact will play an increasingly important role in future societies. Already, the technology exists for over ten thousand genetic sequences to be put on a glass slide. Such a chip could be designed for different applications, from as testing for all the common genetic conditions with a single test (Jones, 2000) to verifying the source of expensive fish roe. Many genetic diseases can be eliminated if people have knowledge, before marriage, of their genetic weaknesses. Societies may form where marriage between pairs that will perpetuate genetic disease will be discouraged. Just as we today, have a knowledge of our blood groups, so societies will be grouped according to genetic propensities so as to increase genetic health. Through this slow process, where groups are identified for ideal pair formations, genetic disease can be slowly bred out in a socially responsible way, without resorting to genetic engineering of the form taking place today. This will be a gentle form of Eugenics, where people choose their mates from other social groups. This process will maximise the heterogeneity of the children and breed out genetic defects.

Genes are currently being crossed between species, with little concern for the long-term consequences of this unnatural practice. Already, these genetically modified organisms have escaped and hybridised with their non-GMO relatives, creating a very uncertain future. Another problem is the unexpected side-effects of such genetic insertions. Brazil nut genes were inserted into soybeans to provide a specific amino acid. Some people are  extremely allergic to the nuts. Somehow, the factor causing this allergy was also transmitted, so the project had to be dropped. Addition of alien genes has caused unexpected physical deformities, such as deformed leaves. Genes that were put into oilseed rape, to boost a most artificial condition - herbicide resistance - have already entered wild mustard and radishes (Jones, 1999). In 1999, transgenes, introduced from bacteria into corn to improve resistance to herbicides or insects, were found to have entered domestic corn crops in the Oaxaca mountains in southern Mexico (Zarembo, 2002). This is despite a Mexican government ban on the planting of genetically modified (GM) corn and the assurance from commercial companies, scientists and the agriculture industry (see books) that such contamination from GM crops was extremely unlikely. Mexico, as the source of domesticated corn 10,000 years ago, is considered an essential source of genetic diversity in its many varieties. In less than a decade after the introduction of such crops, what scientists considered nearly impossible has happened - natural genetic resources have become polluted.

Our domestication of plant and animal species, through the selection of varieties that we perceive as better, has led to a massive reduction in genetic diversity within these species. This diversity is important, in that it allows greater choices for adaptation in the face of selective challenges. Diversity also masks potential genetic diseases by reducing the probability that identical, deleterious alleles will pair up in the chromosomes. (See " Genetics " for the background science to this). This, together with genetic manipulation, will have unexpected side effects.  One possibility is the "escape" of the genetic modifications into the "wild". The other is the expression of unwanted characteristics within a species.

Technology's future lies in close co-ordination with nature. Technology has the potential of becoming biological in that it forms part of the human organism that evolves and adapts to the environment, enhancing human perpetuity and compatibility with the world in which we live. We need to develop biological systems that function with least managerial effort and to produce food and other items for human use with minimal environmental impact. Around such technological centres, where we manipulate nature to serve our needs, nature will flourish in all her wild freedom. Through necessity, we must grant nature her wilderness.

Such technology will require our attention to interactive costs. These extend outwards in a consideration of the impact of the industry upon nature and inwards in designs and innovations that serve human needs and ergonomics. Where a technological unit that serves humanity interacts with the natural world, innovations will prevent any impact upon nature. As such, humanity will devise boundaries between its cultural system and nature. Dennett (1995) has expressed this inevitable outcome: "As soon as something gets into the business of self-preservation, boundaries become important, for if you are setting out to preserve yourself, you don't want to squander effort trying to preserve the whole world: you draw the line." Areas of the earth, insular from the natural world and controlled by humanity, will flourish within a wilderness where the laws of nature rule. To achieve this first requires the satisfaction of every individual's reasonable need. In such a way, over millions of years, nature will continue to evolve, while humans adapt certain aspects of nature to serve their needs. Food may end being a bacterial slurry balanced to meet our nutritional needs. Still, this is all mere speculation. Our new technological culture is only a few generations old. We can only look with awe at our future and with trepidation at our current impact upon nature.

As I see it there are three "religious" or spiritual approaches to life that will dominate the future:

[1] There is the traditional worship of a single Creator and the arrival of the next Prophet of God to guide humanity according to the Creator's will. In my view monotheism will dominate. Such a culture aspires to the truly human, spiritual values.

[2] Opposing this is the New World Order, based on a combination of democracy and science. This is largely a material approach where all remedies are physical, be it Prozac to change the character, giving condoms to twelve year olds at school, or biotechnology to change the genes. In this world, the spiritual plays little role. Divine values and moral philosophy play no significant role in such a world. Genetic manipulation will become a way of life.

[3] There is the Godless technology of Scientology. In Scientology, spiritual solutions replace chemical solutions and auditors replace psychologists and psychiatrists. An army of auditors replaces soldiers of war. However there is no worship of God, nor acceptance of God's Prophets. Which will win, I suppose depends upon God's Will.

And, in conclusion, I look up at the millions of stars, each with the potential of our solar system and catch a glimpse of the human potential as vast as the universe itself. Peace is within our grasp, while leaders plan better ways to destroy and kill each other?


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