Mankind at the crossroad. How are we dealing with global challenges?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Steps ahead

"More than any time in history mankind
faces a crossroads.
One path leads to despair
and utter hopelessness,
the other to total extinction.
Let us pray that we have the wisdom
to choose correctly."
Woody Allen
translations

Imagine:

steps A field covered with freshly-fallen snow, undisturbed and pristine, except for a single line of footprints heading out into the field. Without any discernible change in their steady progress, they suddenly end out there in the field.
In another Čapek story, inspired by the philosophical writings of David Hume, a single footprint found on a wide virgin plain leads to contemplation of what happened, and how we can reconstruct the past.
Like G.B.Shaw and Huxley, Čapek uses mystery stories and science fiction to illustrate
moral principles, and to comment on human nature and human foibles.

As one reviewer and biographer describes it:

"Čapek's 1917 collection Boží muka (Wayside Crosses) is more philosophical than his newspaper stories. Deeply pessimistic, this collection reflects the author's spiritual crisis during the First World War. In The Footprint, which is based on David Hume's speculations about an isolated print in the sand, two men find a mysterious, single footprint in fresh snow that leads nowhere.

One of the men considers the footprint a miracle, a manifestation of God, but the second man dismantles the usefulness of miracles, arguing that they have no place in a rational world. . ."

If we lived in a rational world, we could say:
"Things like that like this do not happen. This is just a fantasy."
They do not happen in a literal sense, but as allegory these stories point us to similar mysteries:

The traces of the past civilizations buried in sand, the abandoned caves of the Anasazi Indians, the legends of Atlantis, the Easter Island where its famous gigantic stone statues were carved.[5]. What can these stories of vanished civilizations, both the imagined stories and those which actually happened, tell us about our situation today?

Perhaps in a few thousand years, alien cosmonauts will land on planet Earth and discover traces of an advanced civilization
(or perhaps, from their point of view, of a primitive uncivilized society) and will wonder what happened here.

"How did it end? How and why did the footprints stop?" they will ask.

We often assume that the residents of Easter Island or the Anasazi caves were completely unconscious of the consequences of their actions or the direction of their future. We tend to believe that we are more conscious of our actions because they have vanished and we are still here.

As they began to cut the last trees on Easter Island, did some among them not object? Did the Anasazi perhaps see changes making their life in the caves more precarious, and discuss what to do?

We, too, are at a crossroads in our civilization.
To consciously and wisely choose a direction for our future, we must be able to discern a pattern in the stampede of our recent footprints, in the present cacophony of voices.

 A thoughtful discussion of those patterns, and of the kinds of alternate futures we could choose, is essential at this juncture.

This blog aims to bring together those voices and offer a critical review .
This is an invitation to a journey to a common journey of an unknown landscape of the near future.

We will make maps, make plans and explore diverse approaches.
I do not know the right path and answers to questions, questions about Global warming about

  "potentially catastrophic changes could occur with global warming of more than 2 degrees C" and possible solutions," which the EU  brochure "action against climate change" [6] is talking about. But with help of Google search engine, some science training and friends I may meet on the way I intend to find out. How serios the threat is, how quickly it may come, is it true, and what, if anything we need to do. Should we fight it as the EU brochure is recommending, or should wait and perhaps adapt to posible changes. There are many views, many opinions, and even some facts. Before choosing a way, let's survey the land.

    References

    The footprints suddenly ending...
  1. POVÍDKY Z JEDNÉ KAPSY -The entire e-book in the original Czech
  2. English translations on the Amazon site
  3. Karel Capek, "Der Fußstapfen," Gottesmarter (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1918)> German translation
  4. David Hume's seminal discourse

  5. Global warming and collapse of societies
  6. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
  7. Leading global action to 2020 and beyond es en fr ru - EU brochures several languages
  8.  Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and ... Pithy and powerful, the opening of Elizabeth Kolbert's book about global warming

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