“The true state of life on this planet (i.e. the main features and long-term trends of life) show ongoing improvement. There has never been a better time to live on Earth.”
The true state of the main world resources
While problems exist everywhere, they are solvable and humanity has done well in caring for and preserving world resources. See, for example, Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’ or ‘Population Bombed’ by Szurmak and Desrochers.
(1) World forest cover in the 1950s was 3.8 billion hectares (FAO stats). World forest cover today is 4.1-plus billion hectares, despite the world population tripling from 2.4 billion people in the early 1950s to almost 8 billion today. Deforestation rates continue to decline and reforestation/afforestation projects continue to succeed.
(2) Proven species extinctions- about 1.5 per year, the same rate as over the past 500 years (others argue the rate may be somewhat higher but not much). While nature has destroyed over 95% of all species over the span of life on this planet, compassionate humanity is now protecting species as never before. See Julian Simon’s chapter on the IUCN report on species loss (in Ultimate Resource and other books) and the discredited assumption/correlation between habitat loss and species extinctions.
(3) Climate change (the atmosphere as a main resource): There has been a mild one degree Centigrade of warming over the past century and a half. That slightly warmed our still abnormally cold world (average surface temperatures of 14.5 degrees Centigrade today) that is still 5 degrees Centigrade below the optimal average surface temperatures of the past 500 million years (19.5 degrees Centigrade). And contrary to the falsified climate models, there is no settled evidence of much more warming occurring in the future. There is no “climate crisis” looming.
(4) Ocean fisheries are not collapsing and aquaculture is meeting the growing human demand for fish. See Ray Hilborn reports and FAO summaries on fisheries.
(5) The overall agricultural soils land-base is not severely degrading. Also, any soil erosion must be understood in net terms, as related to new soil regeneration rates. Further, over the past century and more, we have returned hundreds of millions of hectares of agricultural soil back to nature as hi-yield GM crops enable farmers to produce more crop on the same or less land. We have probably already passed “peak-agricultural land” use. Humanity now produces 25% more food than we need. Hydroponics will also meet much of future food demands.
And a note to all of our children: Do not fear the future on our planet. With continued wealth creation we will continue to solve the remaining world resource problems and life will continue to get ever better than before. Your personal contribution to making life better will add to humanity’s overall success.
“Apocalyptic climate claims have had a major impact. In September 2019, a survey of 30,000 people around the world found that 48 percent believed climate change would make humanity extinct. In January of this year, a survey found that one in five British children were having nightmares about climate change.” (Michael Shellenberger)
The contemporary Left/Right (Liberal/Conservative) divisions in our societies illustrate the problems of tribal polarization. Some people take more extreme stances in these divides and rigidly hold their ideological position as a dominant marker of identity- i.e. “I am Conservative/Liberal”. But it appears that most people take more moderate positions on either side, more toward the middle.
And this quote from another poll: “A strong majority of both liberals and conservatives describe themselves as closer to the center than to the extremes.”
Unfortunately, crisis-obsessed media tend to give inordinate attention to the extremes, giving the impression they represent normal situations, and that lack of context distorts things. That adds to the public sense of division and strife.
Most of us see things on both sides that we can agree with. As someone long ago predicted, most people in the future would embrace a mixed approach and be socially Liberal but economically Conservative. That would mean affirming individual liberty in the social realm and economic realms. And that would make Libertarians happy.
In relation to tribalism, I would urge carefulness in how we embrace and hold human identity markers. Louis Zurcher (The Mutable Self) long ago warned of the problem of placing one’s identity in fixed, rigid objects like occupation, national/racial identity, religion, ideology, or other. He argued that we should remain selves in open processes- open to ongoing change, development, and growth- and not locate our identity in fixed objects like nationality/race, occupation, religion, etc.
An overly-rigid embrace of identity markers that separate us from others can promote tribal division.
Similarly, David Boaz (Libertarianism: A Primer), urges both sides in the US situation to embrace more freedom. He said that Republicans need to embrace more freedom in the social arena and Democrats need to embrace more freedom in the economic realm.
While all the above identity markers may serve some helpful purpose at times, the central feature of our humanity has to do with our oneness with the entire human family. All of us share the same human spirit and consciousness and these are the primary markers of being human. Even quantum theory affirms a fundamental oneness behind all reality and some apply that to humanity’s oneness.
Others note that the dualisms we give so much meaning to, are temporary to this material realm (Joseph Campbell, Natalie Sudman, and others). Engaging the dualisms of this world, says Joseph Campbell, is about fulfilling our differing roles as “actors on God’s stage”.
Beware the tribal impulse. We all want to live the hero’s adventure and engage some righteous battle against evil and against some enemy. The danger in taking on a righteous cause is that we tend to forget our oneness with our enemy. We forget to “love our enemy” and we can thereby lose our humanity. The marker of mature humanity is universal, unconditional love.
Submitting to the tribal impulse is to revert to our animal past (small band thinking). We should all aspire to be world citizens, that is, equal members of the one united human family.
Climate alarmism hysteria continues…
There is no “climate emergency”. CO2 is not a threat to life. It is the basic food of all life.
The world has only warmed 1 degree C over the past century. We are still in an ice-age era with subnormal cold temperatures and suboptimal low levels of CO2 compared to past eras. Life flourished during the past that had much higher average temperatures (average 5 degrees C warmer than today) and much higher levels of atmospheric CO2 (not hundreds but thousands of ppm).
The slight rebound to more optimal temperatures and healthier levels of CO2 over the past few centuries has benefitted life immensely. The world is 30% greener today than a century ago (increased plant productivity and added green vegetation). Life is beginning to flourish again with more basic food (CO2) and more warmth. Where are the news media on this good news?
Added note: We understand the true state of anything by looking at the complete big picture (evidence from all sides) and by placing the thing we are observing within the long-term trends that are associated with it. For example, with climate warming we hear the endless mantra “hottest on record”. But the record referred to is only the last 150 years or so of formal climate recording. The big picture and longer-term trends show, for example, that the previous three warming periods of our inter-glacial- i.e. the Holocene Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period, and the Medieval Warming Period- were all warmer than today’s warming period. Over the entirety of our inter-glacial we are on a long-term cooling trend with these warming periods. Our current warming is the coolest of the four.
Paleo-climate history shows even far warmer epochs than today. Average temperatures over the past 500 million years were in the 19.5 degree Centigrade range, versus the 14.5 C average of today’s world. And life flourished during such times. It did not wilt and die.
Beware the fallacy of presentism (James Payne, History of Force)
Presentism is the belief that the events of our time are the worst ever because we are experiencing them personally, intensely, and firsthand. But presentism does not enable us to see the overall big picture and ongoing trends that are continually improving (see for example- Ten Global Trends by Bailey and Tupy). Julian Simon and many others have done the same- i.e. showing the main features of life and the long-term trends of life that are improving.
We are living in the best of times and the future will be even better. For example, the planet is not burning. We had a slight (one degree C) warming in a cold era. Remember, for over 90% of the past 500 million years the Earth has been entirely ice-free. That is a more normal, optimal world and life flourished during such eras.
Depression is the world’s number one illness affecting some 322 million people. Add to this that the narrative of apocalyptic decline/environmental alarmism has become “the single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics” (my paraphrase of Arthur Herman’s statement in The Idea of Decline in Western History). Add further the YouGov polling results showing that a majority of the world’s population believes the world is getting worse. Children now suffer record rates of “eco-anxiety” and fear.
My point? Irresponsible climate alarmism has devastating consequences for human consciousness and life.
Purge the old, embrace the new– transforming human consciousness/subconscious
A central project on this site is going after bad ideas that have long “deformed human personality” (Zenon Lotufo) with unnecessary guilt, shame, fear/anxiety, and despair/depression. These ideas are still prominent in contemporary worldviews and belief systems, both religious and “secular”. The project here is to offer alternative themes to shape worldviews/narratives.
(Insert note: Many have predicted that with the rise of secularism/science we would see the demise of religion. That has not happened and even with the ongoing spread of secularism we find the same fundamental themes/ideas are embraced by those claiming to have left religion. In reality, they have only left the outer accoutrements of religion but have held onto the same core themes, only now expressed in “secular” versions.)
A complex of primitive themes/ideas were embraced by early humanity and those themes still dominate human consciousness today. They have been passed down to us through the world religions and are common to all the cultures of the world. Today, they are still widely embraced by humanity in religious traditions and also in secular/ideological and even scientific versions.
This site affirms that there are also good ideas in the mix of religious traditions and urges the separation of the “diamonds from the dung” (the concern of Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy).
Here are the most prominent of the “bad ideas”:
The past was better (original perfection). Corrupt, fallen people have ruined the original paradise and life is now declining toward something worse, toward some great apocalyptic ending. Hence, under divine threat, humanity is terrorized into embracing some salvation scheme, to make a sacrifice or payment for sins. God is portrayed as a tribal reality that includes true believers but excludes unbelievers who refuse to submit to the salvation plan. The gods/God threaten to purge the imperfection/evil of this world (and the unbelievers) in a great violent punishment and destruction (i.e. apocalypse). After purging this world, the lost paradise/perfection will be restored, for true believers.
The single most critical idea driving this complex of primitive themes is that of a deity that is angry at human imperfection will ultimately judge, exclude the bad, mete out final punishment, and then violently destroy the bad people via apocalypse and hell.
How many of these themes inform/shape your own worldview, perhaps with one of the secular versions? We have the alternatives to transform and liberate human consciousness/subconscious.
Alternatives for a new narrative:
There is no punitive, destroying deity. There never has been any such reality. There is only love, no conditions love, at the core of reality. This is also the central discovery of the Near-Death Experience movement. This stunningly inexpressible love defines the Ultimate Consciousness/Mind that humanity has long understood in terms of gods/deities.
There was no original perfection because the world was created intentionally as an arena for human experience and struggle, in order to bring forth human creativity through the endless struggle to make life better. Suffering and struggle are essential to human learning, development, and growth. As Julian Simon said, struggle with our problems pushes us to find solutions and our solutions can benefit others. Joseph Campbell said the same, that through our struggles we gain insights and learn lessons that we can pass on to others. Most critical is our struggle against evil where we learn what authentic love is- i.e. “love for the enemy”. And if we fail on that lesson, says Campbell, then we lose our humanity.
Further in the complex of alternative ideas/themes- We are not corrupted, fallen beings. Our essential human spirit is one with the Ultimate Love. Love defines us at our core. Love is the essential nature of the human self.
Life is not declining toward something worse but with creative human input and hard work, life continues to improve toward a better future. We do not need to embrace a salvation scheme. We do not need to make a sacrifice or payment to appease an upset deity. The only “salvation” scheme we should engage is the project of making life better here and now.
Life improves, not by the violent purging of instantaneous transformation movements but by gradualism through messy democracy. (See Arthur Mendel’s ‘Vision and Violence’ for a treatment of “instantaneous transformation” versus “gradualism” movements.)
Ultimately, all are safe as there is no ultimate judgment, no exclusion of anyone, and no punitive destruction. Those themes are all contrary to the ‘no conditions Love’ at the core of reality. The dualisms of this material realm (i.e. good versus evil) are not eternal dualisms. They exist as part of the “learning arena” that is this material realm which is only a small splice of all reality. Even quantum/cosmological theories affirm that, with our limiting brains/bodies, we experience only a small part of greater reality. Death is not an ending or a passage to some lesser shadow form of life. It is a return to our real full consciousness and ongoing life in timeless creative progress.
Full detail in the section below “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives”.
I have just read some articles on DMT (DMT Dialogues) and one of the authors was presenting his views on what life means (i.e. answering the questions: Where are we from? Why are we here?). He speculated that we come to this material realm to learn something and if we screw up then we have to repeat another life-cycle but if we learn our lessons we get to move on to higher stages, states, and realms. His views appeared to be basic re-incarnation stuff with advances based on good performance. It was a traditional argument from historical views of justice as payback- reward the good, punish the bad. And it satisfies most people’s sense of things, notably the sense of “fair” justice.
I would offer that author some offensive material from the almost buried message of Hist. Jesus (buried in New Testament payback justice). Historical Jesus had argued that it matters not how you learn, succeed, or don’t succeed in this life. Everyone gets the same outcome in the end. Look at his Prodigal parable. The wasteful, screw-up son gets a celebration with no demand for repayment, reparation, or restitution. The father treats him just as he would treat the loyal, hard-working, good son.
Then consider the vineyard owner parable. The all-day, faithful guys are pissed that the late-comers who do hardly anything get the same reward that they do. And then note Matt.5:38-48. God gives the same gifts to all, to both the good and the bad. There is complete disregard for the norms of conventional justice in these stories.
This is offensive stuff to minds that are oriented to traditional views of justice as reward the good and punish the bad according to strict measures of fairness and carefully measured consequence for deeds. The no conditions justice of Historical Jesus blows that all aside and argues for giving everyone the same in the end. That is “no conditions love”, the highest and most humane form of love. It is scandalous and offensive to conventional justice. Even the worst among us will get the best in the end.
This is not to deny that there are, and should be, consequences in this life. Consequences for behavior are part of healthy development here. But ultimately the justice of this realm does not apply to other realms. The dualisms of this material realm (i.e. good vs evil) are limited to this realm for whatever reason. Dualism is not eternal. Kinda blows all the re-incarnation teaching out of the water, eh.
If what H. Jesus said is true in some manner, then how should that unconditional ultimate reality influence how we treat one another, how we deal with the failures and screwups of our fellow humans? We all return to the same Oneness in the end. The ultimate no conditions love.
Overturning inherited ideas rooted in the authority of antiquity
Across history people have attributed domination to deity with myths of gods as ultimate authorities- i.e. kings, rulers, judges. But authentic love- whether human or divine- does not dominate or control. Real love relates horizontally to all as equals. It respects the freedom of the equal other. Point? If deity is ultimate goodness and love then deity does not dominate but will respect the freedom of others.
As some have said, where there is no such freedom there is no love. And if “unconditional” love is the highest and best form of love that a human can aspire to and experience, then ultimate Good/Love must be something infinitely better. Reason your conclusions from the foundational idea of unconditional love. It is all.
Note: Historical Jesus argued the same (i.e. that love does not dominate others) in stating that true greatness does not dominate others but serves- “Whoever wants to be great should serve”. Hence, the true greatness of deity will not be domination but loving service.
The two most foundational insights to deal with primal human fear and guilt/shame. These two insights will do more to liberate and transform consciousness than volumes of theological “yack attack”.
1.The Ultimate Reality people have long called God is a stunning “no conditions Love”. That means no ultimate judgment, no demand for sacrifice/payment, no exclusion, and no punishment or destruction. That deals with the primal human fear of after-life harm. There is no ultimate threat.
2.We are also that same love in our core being. This insight speaks to the fundamental oneness that we share with Ultimate Reality (something even quantum theory affirms). This is to say that we are all incarnations of ultimate Love. The no conditions love that is our Source, is the very nature of our human spirit and consciousness.
Point? We are not the corrupt, fallen beings of religious mythology, though we continue to struggle with an inherited animal brain and base animal impulses (tribal division, domination of weaker, exclusion and punitive destruction of differing others).
Eye for eye cycles
We’ve just endured a 4-year cringe-binge of eye for eye behavior (getting even, payback) between the Left and Right that has left most of us quite disgusted. But a caution before getting too self-righteous in our commenting on other’s failings with regard to the human retaliation response. We all hold some level of expertise in this childish behavior but most of us have learned to express our vengeance lust in more subtle ways. A friend offers this example: When one person in a relationship does not show enough affection, the other spouse will then quietly withdraw affection also, as a form of aggressive-passive payback. Subtle, smooth, but just as sick/infantile as any other form of direct hurt for hurt.
Others unembarrassedly affirm retaliation as a good thing (e.g. they claim that it is “counter-punching”) and go at it with unrestrained passion.
Retaliation makes us all look petty, childish, and subhuman. Like little kids in a sandbox throwing sand back and forth (“Well, he/she started it”). And neither side in our great public divides (i.e. Left/Right) can claim that the retaliation from its side is a “righteous battle against evil”- i.e. the ‘evil’ that is the disagreeing other side. That claim to be on the good side is tribal, partisan self-delusion and is a denial of the most basic self-awareness of one’s own biases and faults.
Particularly disgusting over the past four years has been the retaliation coming from the late-night talk/comedy shows. Expressing retaliation via humor is no longer funny, except to the fan-base that it panders to. It comes across for what it really is- hatred of the other side that is exhibited in humorless vilification and effort to humiliate. To the contrary, good humor pokes fun but in a way that even the person being made fun of can also enjoy the joke and not feel humiliated (note Rob Schneider’s comments on the Alex Baldwin SNL skits).
Ah, we all need to “grow the fuck up”. And learn what love is- meaning “love your enemy” as great human spirits like Mandela exhibited for us. Let’s stop this petty retaliating in kind- the childish mocking, belittling, humiliating, and returning hurt to others for imagined hurts caused. Imagined? Yes, a lot is imagined in the over-wrought and highly charged sensitivity to slights/offenses that typify today’s insane outrage culture.
I have been particularly unsettled by the retaliatory response from the side of society that I tend to affiliate most with- the liberal side. I affiliate with this side on most social issues that are oriented to the protected rights of free individuals. Though I give credit to the conservative side for doing better in protecting the rights of free individuals in the economic realm that many argue is the basis of all other freedoms. Overall, I prefer the stance of a fiercely ‘Independent liberalism’ of the Classic Liberal kind. Sort of Libertarianish. See Daniel Hannan’s ‘Inventing Freedom’ for the history of true Liberalism.
The past four-year liberal eruption of hysteria (“getting-the-vapors”) over the faults of others, the exaggeration of evil on the other side (e.g. the lunacy of childish name-calling- “Hitleresque… Nazi, destroyer of democracy, Racist, etc.”), and the cancel-culture response, all point to an intolerant spirit and “creeping totalitarianism” that has nothing to do with Classic Liberalism. Today’s liberalism/progressivism is often highly illiberal.
When you portray the other side with the negative generalizations that Michelle Obama, Michael Moore, and many others have voiced (i.e. “all who voted Republican are racists”) then that negative generalization of an entire group appears to be the very essence, the very spirit of what today’s liberals call “racism”. How are they offering something better with their responses?
But not to be outdone, the conservative side engages its own form of hysterical exaggeration of the ‘evils’ of the liberal side, punching back with name-calling and belittling of equally shameful scale.