Abandon shells on environment

Monday March 18, 2013

During its first weeks of formation, a chick is provided with all the nutrition it requires inside its shell. As it develops, though, the chick eventually exhausts its supply of fuel and begins pecking around in search for more, thus creating an opening in the shell and giving birth to itself. This is what Buckminster Fuller describes as "precession" when animals, seemingly inadvertently, but by nature’s design, are always provided for in their stages of development.

Humans, too, are included in this elegant process. Like that chick, we also find ourselves inside our shell with dwindling resources: specifically, centuries-old combustion-based technologies that have not only outlived their usefulness but today degrade all forms of life. And, like that chick, we have been led, again seemingly inadvertently but by nature’s design, to the next stage of our evolution: the discovery and development of unlimited, clean sources of power.

But unlike that chick, we are not compelled to leave our shell and embrace this next stage of growth. We can actually choose to remain inside with dwindling resources. But why? I believe it is because of our semi-divine nature: that is, we are both blessed and cursed with the ability to exercise free will. Humans find themselves operating at a level of consciousness above that of the lowest forms of life but well below the spontaneous exuberance of the angels. Of the 1,250,000 species of animals on this planet, we are the only species capable of making self-destructive choices. We’re that clever!

In terms of human evolution, we have always been accustomed to slow and incremental change, but humanity finds itself on the threshold of unprecedented technological changes that will swiftly render many of the technologies we are most familiar and comfortable with obsolete. Many feel threatened by change of this magnitude, and as evolved as we believe ourselves to be, neuroscientists remind us that we remain at the mercy of the reptilian part of our brain that, when under perceived threat, shuts down the pre-frontal cortex that regulates both short-term and long-term decision making. As a result, many people seem unwilling and/or unable to make the evolutionary leap required for our continued existence, and we cannot ignore the additional influence of those who profit from both those antiquated technologies and the airwaves they use to instill misunderstanding and fear.

We need to forgive ourselves for the environmental mess we’ve created. After all, it is easier to burn a piece of coal than it is to understand the science behind it, and its side effects. Nonetheless, humanity has arrived at its most important moment, and faces the inevitable test of whether we can evolve beyond our self-imposed social and environmental pressures, or become fossilized evidence of yet one more species that could not. This opportunity for unprecedented technological change and prosperity presents itself to us courtesy of evolution. It has created an opening in our shell.

It’s done its part. Now we must do ours.




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