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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VIII. Pedia Sapiens: A New Genesis Future

6. A Viable Gaiasphere: Planetary Patriots and Matriots

McDonagh, Sean. The Death of Life. Dublin: Columbia Press, 2004. An environmentalist, author and priest in the tradition of Thomas Berry and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin contends that for too far long the Catholic church has distrusted and denigrated a world seen as flawed and fallen. In a new millennium, a creation theology is more appropriate that can value and care for a deeply numinous nature. Of special concern to McDonagh is the precipitous extinction of animal species through habitat destruction.

Melillo, Jerry, et al. Ecology and the Transition to Sustainability. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 3/1, 2003. In this new journal from the Ecological Society of America, an introduction to a special issue on Visions for an Ecologically Sustainable Future. The ESA program for a relevant 21st century science and practice is summarized in this overview article, along with several case studies. A formal vision statement and action plan can be accessed at www.esa.org/ecovisions.

Merchant, Carolyn. Reinventing Eden. New York: Routledge, 2003. Historian Merchant summarizes a quarter century of her insightful critiques of the masculine devastation of the Earth that began with her 1980 landmark The Death of Nature. Rather than this Enlightenment agenda to recover a primal age through controlled environments such as shopping malls and gated communities, a respectful rapport with nature and a reciprocity between women and men is advised which can preserve an essence of original wilderness.

Like others, I yearn for a Recovery from environmental decline – for my own vision of a postpartiarchal, socially just ecotopia for the third millennium. A partnership ethic implies a remything of the Edenic Recovery Narrative or the writing of a new narrative altogether. The new story would not accept the patriarchal sequence of creation, but might instead emphasize simultaneous creation, cooperative male/female evolution, or an emergence out of chaos or the earth. It would not accept the ideal of subduing the earth, or even dressing and keeping the garden, since both entail total domestication and control by human beings. Instead each earthly place would be a home, a community, to be shared with other living and non living things. The needs of both humans and nonhumans would be dynamically balanced. (242)

Milani, Brian. Designing the Green Economy: The Postindustrial Alternative to Corporate Globalization. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. An indictment of rapacious corporations backed by a practical manifesto for achieving ecologically sustainable, humane, local communities. The book’s laudatory preface is written by Thomas Berry.

Miller, Steven and Scott Sagan. Nuclear Power without Nuclear Proliferation. Daedalus. Fall, 2009. The lead article for a special issue on “The Global Nuclear Future” which gathers authorities such as Sam Nunn, Anne Lauvergeon, Robert Socolow, and many others. A second volume on the same radioactive subject will appear in the Winter 2010 issue. For while this energy option is gaining support as a long term approach to truly mitigate climate change, the wild card is how to keep nuclear materials away from tribal terrorists. A further aspect for a nuclear power renaissance is how to do it right this time, surely not the same prior way as Iraq was invaded with no forethought, contextual plan, bad equipment or sense of magnitude. A good companion book in this regard would be Power to Save the World by activist author Gwyneth Cravens (Knopf, 2009).

Moobela, Cletus. From Worst Slum to Best Example of Regeneration: Complexity in the Regeneration of Hulme, Manchester. Emergence: Complexity and Organization. 7/1, 2005. Google the author to access this summary of his doctoral thesis online. The paper begins by a contrast of the old mechanistic model and a new holistic vision of nature, seen as a grand revolution from material machine to dynamic organism. By these lights, urban areas can be rightly appreciated as complex adaptive systems poised between order and chaos. But effective facilitation and change need be situated within and respectful of the prior realities of a specific neighborhood.

Nadeau, Robert. The Environmental Endgame. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006. An English professor at George Mason University and co-author with Menas Kafatos of works that expand scientific frontiers here tackles a rethinking of global economics and ecologies. Noting how Thomas Berry has called for a ‘New Story’ of a life-friendly cosmos to supplant the reigning but terminal mechanist model, Nadeau surveys the animate fluxes of self-organizing, non-equilibrium systems to show how they reveal a more viable, sustainable abide. With the human presence distinguished by complex language abilities, which now confer God-like powers over the biosphere, it is our responsibility to conceive an Environmental Ethic and Ethos appropriate to the task.

Nelson, David, et al. Clinical Ecology: Transforming 21st Century Medicine with Planetary Health in Mind. Challenges. 10/1, 2019. inVIVO Planetary Health, amd Worldwide Universities Network advocates DN, Susan Prescott, Alan Logan, (search names) and Jeffery Bland continue to flesh out vital ways to imagine and define a sense of a whole world anatomy, physiology and well being. The paper is part of The Emerging Concept of Planetary Health: Connecting People, Place, Purpose and Planet collection which now sports some 22 entries such as Planetary Health Ethics.

Four decades ago, several health movements were sprouting in isolation. In 1980, the environmental group Friends of the Earth defined health as a state of complete physical, mental, social and ecological well-being and not merely the absence of disease. At the same time, a few doctors were voicing the concept of “clinical ecology” which sees illness as a response to total lived experience and surrounding “exposures.” In 1977, the Nobel physician-scientist Jonas Salk stated that “we are entering into a new Epoch in which holistic medicine will be the dominant model”. But it is only recently that these views movements has merged into a unified interdisciplinary discourse. The interconnected challenges of our time — an epidemic of non-communicable diseases, socioeconomic inequalities, biodiversity losses, climate change, unnatural environments - demands that all of medicine be viewed from an ecological perspective. Aided by advances in ‘omics’ technology, it is clear that each person maintains complex, biologically-relevant microbial ecosystems, and those ecosystems are, in turn, a product of lived experiences within larger social, political, and economic ecosystems. (Abstract edits)

Nelson, Julie. Economics for Humans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. How considerate just when the mechanistic, neoclassical, profit and loss, economy is in free fall, for the Tufts University scholar to have provided a palliative alternative. For our societal, local and global, abide ought to be based on and guided by “body and soul” so as to foster a production attuned to their nurturance, quite an organic model, rather than a vested, crashing money machine.

Nikolic, Igor. IE = Industrial Evolution? Journal of Industrial Ecology. 19/2, 2015. For this issue on Advances in Complex Adaptive Systems, the Delft University of Technology management professor has been a pioneer advocate for such an expansive, natural basis to better inform and guide social policies. This essay proposes an evolutionary context in the form of a Universal Darwinism (UD), which takes on the form of an interactive algorithm, per the first quote. We also add a summary from the author’s TU Delft web page.

UD states that the process of evolution, regardless of the medium, is an informational refinement algorithm. It states that necessary (but not sufficient) conditions are the existence of an interactor that is coupled to an informational replicator, which exist in some environment and follow three simple mechanisms: variation, selection, and replication. Whenever we have information being processed in a medium, following the above rules, we will get creation of dissipative structures and complexity. (1)

The UD perspective cannot, and should not, replace the established perspective on sociotechnical systems, but rather enrich it by painting a wider backdrop of evolutionary forces and fitness landscapes. It would allow us to better recognize individuals, organizations, and systems behavior through an even deeper analogy with the biological systems that we have evolved from. (3)

Agent Based Modeling of Complex Adaptive Systems: Our human society consists of many intertwined Large Scale Socio-Technical Systems (LSSTS), such as infrastructures, industrial networks, the financial systems etc. Environmental pressures created by these systems on Earth’s carrying capacity are leading to exhaustion of natural resources, loss of habitats and biodiversity, and are causing a resource and climate crisis. To avoid this sustainability crisis, we urgently need to transform our production and consumption patterns. LSSTS and the ecosystems that they are embedded in are known to be Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS). According to John Holland CAS are "...a dynamic network of many agents (which may represent cells, species, individuals, firms, nations) acting in parallel, constantly acting and reacting to what the other agents are doing. The overall behavior of the system is the result of a huge number of decisions made every moment" by many individual agents.” (Nikolic’s TU Delft website)

Norberg, Jon and Graeme Cumming, eds. Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. A Stockholm University systems ecologist and University of Cape Town conservation biologist, inspired by the nonlinear thinking of C. S. Holling and Simon Levin, edit a collection that attempts to reevaluate ecosystem maintenance in terms of its intrinsic complex adaptive system attributes. By avail of this perspective, especial notice can be made of natural resilience, diversity, nested networks, information processes, structural modularity, and so on. As a result, insights may be further gained into a human social mindfulness of our environmental milieu. All this is fine, but the necessary step to connect and root such ubiquitous properties as a manifestation of an appropriately conducive genesis universe, to even ask the question, is not yet imagined.

Nordhaus, W. and E. Kikkelenberg, eds. Nature’s Numbers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999. To properly include the biospheric context, it is imperative to expand accounting beyond the Gross National Product to include environmental effects, resource depletion, pollution levels, and so on.

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