VIII. Earth Earns: An Open Participatory Earthropocene to Ecosmocene CoCreativity
5. A Viable Gaia: Planetary Patriots and Matriots in an Earthropocene Era
Jin, Zhouying. Global Technological Change: From Hard Technology to Soft Technology. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, 2011. A translation of the 2nd Chinese edition by the Institute of Quantitative Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, professor published in 2010 by Peking University Press. It can be well summarized by a final diagram on page 352, with a yin/yang outline. To leaven a Western emphasis on hard things only, a complementary Eastern mode as if an immaterial software is needed. With prime values of Harmony, Balance, and Coexistence, “control and conquer” is then paired with “unity of heaven and man,” “material civilization” with “material/spiritual/ecological civilization,” “financial capital” softened as “natural/human- social capital,” and so on. A bicameral East/West and South/North world beckons via a woman’s wisdom, if we could ever gain such vision.
Kapoor, Rakesh. Signs of an Emerging Planetary Transformation. Futures. 42/10, 2010. The New Delhi futurist introduces this special Global Mindset Change issue by contrasting an old Consumptive-materialistic-atomistic-phase with the Ecological-spiritual-integral way. Its five areas include: Signs of the emerging mindset change; Paradigm change: philosophy, policies and trends; Insights, critical ideas and concepts to understand the transition; Means to strengthen the processes of global mindset change; and The evolutionary leap from analysis to synthesis, fragmentation to integration. The issue will notably carry “Globally Scanning for “Megatrends of the Mind” by Jennifer Gidley (search).
Surely and steadily a transformation of global mindsets towards a ‘planetary consciousness,’ towards holistic, integrated ways of thinking – and living – is taking place.
Kates, Robert and Thomas Parris. Long-Term Trends and a Sustainability Transition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 100/8062, 2003. A succinct survey of areas such as population, megacities, disease vectors, consumption and so on, but noting that unless militarism and corruption are mitigated all efforts will fail.
War, conflict, crime, and corruption are major threats to a sustainability transition in myriad ways: directly by destroying human lives, capital, infrastructure, and the environment; and indirectly by diverting needed productive resources, increasing exploitation of natural resources, and encouraging “fortress worlds,” where personal security dominates concerns for the common good. (8062)
Kay, James, et al. An Ecosystem Approach for Sustainability. Futures. 31/7, 1999. Rather than trying to control nature as if it is a physical mechanism, this article explores how to facilitate “self-organizing, holarchic open systems” so as to achieve a healthy biosphere.
Kelbessa, Workineh. African Environmental Ethics, Indigenous Knowledge, and Environmental Challenges. Environmental Ethics. 37/4, 2016. In an extensive essay, the Addis Ababa University philosopher advises contrary to some opinions that traditional African wisdom about an innate human – nature reciprocity in an organic, moral cosmos can provide salutary guidance. With reference to the Bantu concept of Ubuntu (search) and the Kemetic teaching of a Maat morality (Karenga) a relational reality of individual and village is valued for its holistic intimacy of human, Earth and universe.
Unlike mainstream Western ethics, African environmental ethics has recognized the inter¬connectedness and interdependence of all beings and the more-than-human world. To be an object of moral concern, rationality, intelligence, and language are not required, although different beings have different mental capacities and roles. The unity of the whole estab¬lishes an ethical obligation for human beings toward nature. Africa has different cultures that have helped to shape positive moral attitudes toward the natural environment and its human and nonhuman components. Although African environmental ethics is increasingly being marginalized by educational establishments and policy makers in Africa, it has the potential to contribute to human well-being and environmental sustainability. However, it is not a panacea for all global environmental challenges, as it has its own limitations and needs improvement. The solution of environmental problems requires multidisciplinary approaches and the cooperation of all nations. African and other concerned scholars should critically study African environmental ethics and identify its positive elements that can en¬able humanity to save Mother Earth and its inhabitants.
Kondratyev, Kirill, et al. Global Environmental Change. Berlin: Springer, 2002. A discussion of efforts to create an international GeoInformation Monitoring System for adaptive ecosphere modeling.
La Cava, William, et al. Automatic Identification of Wind Turbine Models using Evolutionary Multiobjective Optimization. Renewable Energy. 87/2, 2016. A team of mechanical engineers from UM Amherst and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, along with Hampshire College computer scientist Lee Spector, find present methods by which to access wind turbine performance to be inadequate. They then turn to genetic algorithm programs for a better approach and practical results. Since also cited as “epigenetic learning and evolution,” one might witness the work as an example of human beings beginning to intentionally it carry forward. Apropos, see Evaluation of Planetary Boundary Layer Simulations for Wind Resource Study in East Iran by three Iranian scientists in the same journal (111/1, 2017).
Modern industrial-scale wind turbines are nonlinear systems that operate in turbulent environments. As such, it is difficult to characterize their behavior accurately across a wide range of operating conditions using physically meaningful models. To address these deficiencies, we use a recently developed symbolic regression method to identify models of a modern horizontal-axis wind turbine in symbolic form. The method uses evolutionary multiobjective optimization to produce succinct dynamic models from operational data while making minimal assumptions about the physical properties of the system. Several succinct models are found that predict wind turbine behavior as well as or better than more complex alternatives derived by other methods. We interpret the new models to show that they often contain intelligible estimates of real process physics.
Lappe, Frances Moore and Anna Lappe. Hope’s Edge. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2002. A thirty year update now with her daughter of the classic Diet for a Small Planet which chronicles their world travels to find case studies of living lightly but well on an increasingly finite earth.
Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climate Regime. London: Polity, 2017. The French philosophical anthropologist and author (search) turns his scholarly erudition in these essays abour novel ways of survival and sustainability for Earth’s precarious anthropocene biosphere. If we might avoid Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, an enhanced appreciation of this holistic, feminine sensibility, which after four decades remains a viable scientific model, would much serve us going forward.
The emergence of modern sciences in the seventeenth century profoundly renewed our understanding of nature. The situation is more unstable today, now that we have entered an ecological mutation of unprecedented scale. Some call it the Anthropocene, but it is best described as a new climatic regime. This book explores a potential candidate proposed by James Lovelock when he chose the name 'Gaia' for the way in which living phenomena modify the Earth. The fact that he was immediately misunderstood proves simply that his readers have tried to fit this new notion into an older frame, transforming Gaia into a single organism, a giant thermostat, or New Age goddess. In this series of lectures, Bruno Latour argues that the complex and ambiguous figure of Gaia offers, on the contrary, an ideal way to disentangle the ethical, political, theological, and scientific aspects of the now obsolete notion of nature. He lays the groundwork for a future collaboration among scientists, theologians, activists, and artists as they, and we, begin to adjust to the new climatic regime. (Publisher excerpts)
Lenton, Timothy and Bruno Latour. Gaia 2.0. Science. 361/1066, 2018. A senior British geosystems scientist and a French philosophical anthropologist (search each) propose a unique extension of Earth’s apparent deep propensity to regulate biospheric and atmospheric conditions in a favorable concert with life’s evolutionary flora and fauna. The article has gained notice such as the Science Daily review below. From this genesis website vista, an ascent and passage to an aware, informed (e)volitionary global mitigation and future enhancement may be a critical, singular step that any successful (candidate) bio(ovo)world has to achieve.
Earth has now entered a new epoch called the Anthropocene, and humans are beginning to become aware of the global consequences of their actions. As a result, deliberate self-regulation—from personal action to global geoengineering schemes—is either happening or imminently possible. Making such conscious choices to operate within Gaia constitutes a fundamental new state of Gaia, which we call Gaia 2.0. By emphasizing the agency of life-forms and their ability to set goals, Gaia 2.0 may be an effective framework for fostering global sustainability. (1066)
Lenton, Timothy, et al. Survival of the Systems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. January 2021, . Seven senior environmentalists including TL, University of Exeter, Marten Scheffer, Wageningen University, and Pablo Marquet, Santa Fe Institute propose to extend the class of evolutionary, autopoietic dynamics which are now applied to simpler, molecular phases on up to organisms, groups and active ecological environs. See also Non-Genetic Inheritance: Evolution above the Organismal Level by Anton Sukhoverhov and Nathalie Gontier in Biosystems (December, 2020) for a companion approach.
Since Darwin, individuals and more recently genes, have been the focus of evolutionary thinking. The idea that selection operates on nonreproducing, higher-level systems including ecosystems or societies, has met with scepticism. But research emphasising that natural selection can be based solely on differential persistence invites reconsideration of their evolution. Self-perpetuating feedback cycles involving biotic as well as abiotic components are critical to determining persistence. Evolution of autocatalytic networks of molecules is well studied, but the principles hold for any ‘self-perpetuating’ system. Ecosystem examples include coral reefs, rainforests, and savannahs. Societal examples include agricultural systems, dominant belief systems, and economies. (Abstract)
Levin, Simon. Crossing Scales, Crossing Disciplines: Collective Motion and Collective Action in the Global Commons. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 365/13, 2010. In a special issue on the life sciences for the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary, with free access online, the Princeton University systems ecologist deftly identifies and enlists a beneficial complementarity of free entities and a supportive group, of competition and cooperation, that graces nested evolutionary scales from microbes to mammals. As the quotes aver, it would obviously avail us to intentionally carry on this natural wisdom as a way to heal and guide more sustainable, peaceful, human societies.
Two conflicting tendencies can be seen throughout the biological world: individuality and collective behaviour. Natural selection operates on differences among individuals, rewarding those who perform better. Nonetheless, even within this milieu, cooperation arises, and the repeated emergence of multicellularity is the most striking example. The same tendencies are played out at higher levels, as individuals cooperate in groups, which compete with other such groups. Many of our environmental and other global problems can be traced to such conflicts, and to the unwillingness of individual agents to take account of the greater good. One of the great challenges in achieving sustainability will be in understanding the basis of cooperation, and in taking multicellularity to yet a higher level, finding the pathways to the level of cooperation that is the only hope for the preservation of the planet. (13)
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