FMBR Editorial: May, 2007
Thoughts about the Future
William C. Gough
The human species is creating a planetary crisis that no nation or region can solve on its own. Thinking about what would be necessary to overcome this crisis, I began reflecting upon the various elements that could result in an integral approach to the issues. Those issues involve our approach to world governance, our multi-cultural backgrounds, the environmental impacts we are having, our present approach to economics, our rapid advances in science, and the spiritual/religious base that influences our moral behavior. The inter-relationship and magnitude of the issues made me wonder whether we would respond in time to the impending crisis. This caused me to think of the story of the frog sitting in a pot of water on the stove in which the heat is very gradually being raised. The frog will stay there until it is cooked dead. However, if the temperature is suddenly raised rapidly, the frog will notice the impending danger and jump out of the pot. President George W. Bush should be thanked for effectively rapidly increasing the heat so that our society has awakened to many of these issues. We are now more aware of the limitations of conventional warfare, the need for diplomacy, the benefit of an international approach to problems, and the magnitude of our cultural differences.
Environment & Economics
A driving force behind world problems is the population growth. Fortunately 42 countries now have populations that either essentially stable or are declining slowly. They include China, the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, and Italy. Never-the-less, the medium projection of world population by 2050 is 9.1 billion if population growth is not stabilized. In addition over the last half-century the world has developed a throwaway economy. Today in the United States our municipal solid waste management systems collect 3.4 pounds of product waste a day for each man, woman, and child. This is ten times as much as we did at the turn of the last century and twice as much as in 1960. Since the ‘60s there has been considerable emphasis upon recycling. Yet, the economic system that we follow remains a linear system that depletes the earth’s natural resources and turns them into wastes. The partial recycling we now do delays the consequences, but the system remains linear. The depletion of resources and the handling of waste are simply used to increasing the gross domestic product.
The developing countries are rightfully pursuing a desire to increase the material wealth of their citizens and thereby raise their standard of living. However, in our current throwaway economic system this goal when coupled with population growth will place inordinate strains upon our environment. We, therefore, need to transition from linear growth economics to a closed or “steady-state” economic system based upon what is now known as “ecological economics.” The basic reason is that a direct relation exists between a nation’s use of energy and its standard of living. There is also a similar relation between energy consumption and the amount of waste materials it produces. For the growth of developing nations to occur without conflict for limited resources, the materials cycle must be closed. We must “mine” resources from our wastes.
Some say growth is a necessary – and it is! Material growth is a natural evolutionary process and eventually leads to death – whether it is a star or a human body – and death is Nature’s way for stimulating change. However, too rapid material growth is like a cancer and can lead to premature death. There are finite limits to the world’s reserves of material resources and the ability of the earth’s ecological system to absorb pollutants safety. Only three sinks for these wastes exist – the ocean, the atmosphere, or the land. At present all nations are trying to maximize their rate of flow of materials. This corresponds to increasing annual production and thus the Gross Domestic Product. The natural pressure in such a system is to decrease the life and quality of the items produced and hence, creates a throwaway society. In the existing linear economies with limited recycling, the inputs for increasing production must come from the environment, which leads to pollution.
In a “steady-state” system, limits on the total materials inventory, and hence on the total wealth of the society, would be set by Nature. However, these limits are flexible due to our ability to develop substitute materials from plentiful elements such as silicon and carbon. Within these limits, however, the standard of living would be higher if the rate of flow of materials were lower which means the life expectancy of products must increase. This would reduce pollution. However the major benefit would occur if a technology became available that could recycle any and all materials and return them to their original basic elements. This both expands Nature’s limits and reduces pollution. Of course there are no limits on intellectual and spiritual growth.
The world has only a few energy sources that are effectively infinite in their ability to meet our long-term energy needs. They are solar which is very diffuse and intermittent; fission which has the issue of nuclear runaway and fission products; and the zero-point energy of the quantum vacuum which is currently only a gleam in the eyes of physicists but would be available everyplace on earth and in small modular units; and fusion which is not yet fully demonstrated, requires large size plants, yet has the unique potential of closing the materials’ cycle.
We need to develop non-polluting energy sources and close the materials' cycle. We will never be able to handle in an environmentally safe manner the millions of chemicals that modern society is now using and the new ones we are creating. The Fusion Torch through the use of ultra-high temperature plasmas returns these millions of chemicals back into the basic 92 elements that Nature originally supplied us with. Think about it, the computer that I am writing this editorial on contains more than a thousand different kinds of materials including many toxic materials. How do we safely recycle this equipment when I replace it with the next generation of computers? There are ways to reduce this problem, and they should be applied, but none eliminate it except the Fusion Torch that has the ability to convert matter back to its basic elements.
In the 1970s it became clear that society would devote only a bare minimum of resources to address the world wide environmental problems that were looming on the horizon. My conclusion was that as Pogo said: “I had met the enemy and it is us.” So in 1980 I co-founded the Foundation for Mind-Being Research to seek a personal understanding of human nature and its relationship to consciousness. Based upon research and personal experience I am now convinced that our thoughts, intentions and emotions affect the chemistry of our bodies and this, in turn, alters our emotions and behavior. Brain imaging and brain scanning devices can monitor such shifts in our information processing. Research in experimental physics has confirmed the theoretical predictions of non-local linkages over distance and time. Such research shows that an inter-connectiveness exists at the fundamental particle level.
Other research has shown that every individual’s actions, intentions and thoughts, each in their own small way, are affecting the whole. When large groups of individuals around the planet experience similar feelings and thoughts they affect the physical world. Although hard to believe, this has been demonstrated by using a physical instrument known as a Random Number Generator (RNG) in the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton University. These devices are now located at sixty-five sites around the world and act like cosmic seismographs that measure when coherent intentions, thoughts, and emotions occur throughout the world. They have registered the human response to natural disasters, to our fears and to our prayers. We are an interconnected world society not only on non-physical basis but also now on a physical basis via the Internet. The citizens of the world have entered an irreversible state of interconnectedness in which nothing as perceived in our current state of being remains isolated or autonomous. Thus, our collective “spiritual maturity index” will determine whether humankind can successfully negotiate this next great evolutionary transition.
If the social environment (or culture) shapes and maintains the behavior of those who live in it, then we must begin to develop the techniques to control the evolution of our cultures so that human behavior of the future will assure the survival of both the culture and mankind. A major area of research activity is the science of consciousness. Such work could change how we picture ourselves in relation to the universe and, hence, could form the basis for a new set of values. We are in a race between technologies. We need to accelerate the tools that encourage and aid individuals to raise their level of consciousness while developing the technologies that will permit us to live in harmony with planet Earth.
There is an urgent need for a network of individuals from all cultures and societies to start an integral approach to such a global awakening. It must involve those experienced in governance, economics, science, technology, the healing professions, the arts and the media, education, and the spiritual and religious traditions. The process has started but is in its infancy. The World Wisdom Council, a global think-action-tank dedicated to the advancement and application of wisdom in the world, has been addressing these issues. The Roosevelt Institution, the nation’s first student-run policy research group, was founded at Stanford University in 2004. This student think-tank now has over 5,000 students involved in over fifty chapters around the country connected via the Internet. The Journal Kosmos is devoted to an integral approach to global awakening. The Club of Budapest is creating a mega-network using the Internet as the primary vehicle of connection. They have established the World Wisdom Alliance with the goal of manifesting “a network of like-minded groups and individuals creating an on-line community: Unity in Diversity in action!“ With your help the Foundation for Mind-Being Research will be participating in this process.
William C. Gough, FMBR Chairman of the Board
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