a personal letter…

Sorry, Buddy, if I seem like I’ve been ignoring you.   The two-month trip to the U.S. was a major drop out for me with respect to keeping up with E-Mails.

I’ve just gone back and looked through the several E-Mails you’ve sent me over that time.   Drilling ANWAR, the Keystone Shale Oil Pipeline, the rising medical costs for G20 nations, some ragging on Obama and the collection of 50 amazing and concerning statistics to do with the U.S.  I also noted that you liked the fellow in New Mexico who is building energy sustainable homes.

It’s all interesting and debatable.   Most of it, however, I don’t think worth debating at the level presented.   Don’t misunderstand me, my friend.   That is not intended to be a rebuff to you nor is it me ragging on you.

I have several large-scale reactions to things like these issues now days.

First, I sincerely doubt that anything significant can be done about them.  And that leads me to question how much of the valuable life-time I have left I want to spend agonizing over them.

Debating them seems largely futile to me.  You and I are both intelligent, sincere and well-meaning with regard to these issues but we have not, over many years of discussing these issues, been able to agree on the causes and solutions to many of them.

If that’s true, then how likely is it that either of us could engage in debates with others and hope to sway many of them to our POV?

Most times, we (the royal ‘we’) end up talking to the already-converted who believe as we do.   That seems a particular waste of time to me.

I tend strongly to be a systems thinker and before I dig into the detail of a given issue, like say the Keystone Pipeline, I will back off and see if the issue makes more sense to regard from a higher meta level.   I think, as a systems thinker would, that this is very obviously the most penetrating and productive approach.  But I also find it very much a minority POV and thus valid and yet largely irrelevant at the same time.

The more I study the foibles of human thinking, the more I realize that we are very imperfect beings with regard to our abilities to seek truth without being swayed by our previously ensconced viewpoints.  I.e., we very largely see what we want to see and that most of us, when learning this, assume that it is a great truth that afflicts virtually everyone else – ourselves being excluded, of course.   I’m in this boat as well, I suspect.

We listen at the radio telescopes to a galaxy with 100 billion stars in which the latest research tells us that virtually every sun has planets.   Against this news, the Drake Equation has been begging the question for decades now as to why we haven’t heard from other civilizations out there.

I greatly fear that the very drives and imperatives that pool and collect when inanimate matter arises via evolution, complexity and the second law of thermodynamics into beings with intelligence and self awareness, that these self-same drives and imperatives are the factors that cause them to destroy themselves every time on the cusp of their technological adolescence.


All the greed and waste we see around us is nothing but, to me, the higher level expressions of those same biological imperatives that served all of world’s evolving creatures so well until one of them, us; Homo Sapiens, arose with such a powerful adaption (generalized intelligence) that it broke the balances of forces that had always held things in rough balance and let us dominate the biosphere unopposed.

Now, still living out those imperatives to go forth and propagate, we’ve filled the planet up and are threatening to bring the biosphere to wreck and ruin.

I don’t think humanity, as a collective, have the insight, intelligence or will to transcend this deeply inbred tendency.   And I doubt that the vast majority of species on planets of distant stars have had these in sufficient quantities either, or we’d probably have heard from them by now.

So, on a very personal level, I’m just thinking mostly these days about how I want to spend the rest of my time in a reasonably responsible way and enjoy the life I have left to me.  Sidewalk cafes, good books, ancient ruins and the sun on my shoulders all sounds good.

Cheers, my friend,


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