I expect you, like the rest of us, worry about the condition of the earth and all the creatures on it.
No, that sounds tame.
What I see terrifies me.
Let me say it clearly: I see that everyone who follows the kind of life-pattern that sets humans apart from the rest of the biosphere, with some kind of special permission to use the world any old way we see fit—and that means almost everyone now living, including you and me—does not help the planet survive. Instead, we make things worse. We court species suicide and extinction.
All the programs we propose to remedy our self-destructiveness seem either ineffective or actually harmful in ways we didn't expect. We act like medics putting band-aids on wounds gushing blood.
What to do?
I suggest that we need to find new ways to SEE the problems—SEE what we do, and the consequences of what we do. Our established thinking-and-speaking patterns keep leading us back into the established boxes. We can't rely on our familiar ways of analyzing what we need to do; we can count on them to lead us to save the whales and kill ourselves-and-the-planet. We need somehow to get outside of our traditional frames of reference and our usual assumptions about "what works" and "what doesn't work."
As one of the most difficult problems, we must face the fact that that as we currently practice science, scientific "advances" don't much alter our self-destructiveness. In fact, what currently passes for "science" works against the long-term survival of the planet.
Not because scientists—or even "some scientists"—'ARE' bad people, who don't care about the earth.
Not because they 'ARE' too stupid to think of the consequences.
Instead, we have to recognize that even the best scientists simply DON'T KNOW HOW THE WORLD WORKS. Our mathematics, quantum theory, relativity, biological theory, and the various human psycho-social sciences leave a crucial factor out of account. I have disclosed it, and found ways to take it into account.
Biologists don't know how to tell whether something LIVES or not. In the late 1930's and 1940's, they declared it IMPOSSIBLE to define key terms such as life or living; and after about a decade of discussion, "forgot" (repressed) that they had done so. Today, a vast majority of biologists regard living organisms as elaborate "mechanisms"; and so, on principle, they cannot tell a walrus from a wristwatch.
So how can they possibly show us how to support ALL life on earth? Simple—they can't. They don't know what to do to remedy our self-destructiveness any better than the least scientific among us; but they suffer from a terrible handicap: they think they do.
Well, don't I sound like a smartass? And how do I know all this? Over the course of more than thirty years, I have worked out ways to think outside the standard patterns. I DO have a principled, testable way to tell whether or not something lives. I have framed this theory of biology as a formal mathematical theory. It includes a theorem which spells out what a "system" has to DO for us to regard it as living. And so I know one thing other scientists don't:
THE EARTH ITSELF OPERATES LIKE A LIVING SYSTEM.
No, I don't mean the "Gaia complex" or any other kind of mysticism. In its observable functioning, the earth itself demonstrably satisfies the conditions spelled out in my theorem. So if we want to continue living here, we must come to treat the earth as a whole, living system, and treat ourselves and the rest of the living organisms as functioning, inter-dependent parts of the earth. To do that, first we have to know how to recognize a living organism when we meet one—and I do know how to do that. Then we have to teach these skills to the rest of the biologists, along with the politicians, and the remainder of the people on the planet as well. And we don't have very much time to get started doing it. I know how this works, and I know how to teach it.
Will you join me?
C.A. Higartner, MD