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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VIII. Earth Earns: An Open Participatory Earthropocene to Astropocene CoCreative Future

C. An Earthropocene Era: Pedia Sapiens Can Choose a Unified Peaceful, Viable Ecosphere

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)

Bruno Latour is one of the world's leading sociologists and anthropologists. He taught at the École des Mines in Paris from 1982 to 2006 and is now Professor at the Institut d'études politiques (Sciences Po) and Director of the Sciences Po médialab.

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)

A time-honored theory into why conditions on Earth have remained stable enough for life to evolve over billions of years has been given a new, innovative twist. In the 'Gaia' hypothesis, living organisms and their inorganic surroundings evolved together as a single, self-regulating system that kept the planet habitable, despite threats such as a brightening Sun, volcanoes and meteorite strikes. However, Professor Tim Lenton from the University of Exeter and famed French sociologist of science Professor Bruno Latour now contend that humans have the potential to 'upgrade' this planetary operating system to create "Gaia 2.0." They believe that the evolution of both humans and their technology could add a new level of "self-awareness" to Earth's self-regulation. As humans become more aware of the global consequences of their actions, including climate change, a new kind of deliberate self-regulation becomes possible where we limit our impacts on the planet. This "conscience choice" to self-regulate introduces a "fundamental new state of Gaia" which could achieve greater global sustainability in the future. (Science Daily, Sept. 13)

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)

Cooperation is widespread in the biological world, especially in human societies. Bacteria signal one another by exuding chemicals, and exchange mutual favours. Amoebae organize themselves into slime molds, insects into swarms, birds into flocks, fish into schools, ungulates into herds. Primates have the most highly developed social organizations of unrelated individuals, relying on highly developed cultural practices to maintain the integrity of their societies.
But the tribes and societies and cultures we build become devices for conflict among groups, and too often it is that conflict and competition that strengthens the membership bonds. When groups come together, it is often because there is a common enemy. How can we get beyond this in achieving the survival of our species, and of our planet?
We must recognize that we have a common enemy, and that enemy is the extinction that awaits us if we do not change our ways. It is war and pollution, it is biodiversity loss and climate change, it is all the things that threaten the quality of our life, as well as our survival. The sooner we acknowledge this common threat, the sooner we can achieve the cooperation that will bond us all together. (16 – 17)

Levin, Simon, et al. Social-Ecological Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems. Environment and Development Economics. 18/2, 2013. A 17 member, world class team from Europe and the US, including Kenneth Arrow, Paul Ehrlich, and Gretchen Daily, call for a redress of ineffective programs by turning to a proper, practical avail of these ubiquitous dynamics. In this way, a truly organic self-organizing and correcting resilience can be naturally facilitated.

Systems linking people and nature, known as social-ecological systems, are increasingly understood as complex adaptive systems. Essential features of these complex adaptive systems – such as nonlinear feedbacks, strategic interactions, individual and spatial heterogeneity, and varying time scales – pose substantial challenges for modeling. However, ignoring these characteristics can distort our picture of how these systems work, causing policies to be less effective or even counterproductive. In this paper we present recent developments in modeling social-ecological systems, illustrate some of these challenges with examples related to coral reefs and grasslands, and identify the implications for economic and policy analysis. (Abstract)

Lewin, Harris, et al. Earth BioGenome Project: Sequencing Life for the Future of Life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115/4325, 2018. Twenty-four environmental biologists and ecologists at leading institutes, universities, museums, and botanical gardens from the USA, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, and China outline a decadal program to sequence, read, and curate the genomic code of essentially all creatures great and small. The profligate diversity of Earth life’s whole scale genetic repository can then serve critical biospheric and anthropospheric conservation programs.

Increasing our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity and responsibly stewarding its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium. Herein, we present a perspective on the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a moonshot for biology that aims to sequence, catalog, and characterize the genomes of all of Earth’s eukaryotic biodiversity over a period of 10 years. The outcomes of the EBP will inform a broad range of major issues facing humanity, such as the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems, and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystem services. The far-reaching potential benefits of creating an open digital repository of genomic information for life on Earth can be realized only by a coordinated international effort. (Abstract)

The Earth BioGenome Project will create a new foundation for biology, informing a broad range of major issues facing humanity, such as the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems, and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystem services. Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, informatics, automation, and artificial intelligence, have propelled humankind to the threshold of a new beginning in understanding, utilizing, and conserving biodiversity. For the first time in history, it is possible to efficiently sequence the genomes of all known species, and to use genomics to help discover the remaining 80 to 90 percent of species that are currently hidden from science. (EBG website)

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