This is both exciting and wonderful, it could be of enormous significance in medicine, and in near death experience research to cite just two areas. It could also be deeply alarming, because the shadow of this research is the thought police. You wouldn’t be safe even inside your own head. Once again science and technology outstrip ethics and law. It is our curse.
This is a conservative, but brilliant analysis of several of the trends I have covered in SR. I agree with all of this except for the energy sector section, which I think is quite wrong. They do not properly take into account the quickening transition to noncarbon energy; and they make no mention at all of climate change, and its effects.
The net-net here though is an emerging trend of massive importance: How do we structure a society where human labor is rendered irrelevant by robotics? If profit remains our only essential priority, disaster will follow. Wellness must become our first priority if we are to survive and prosper.
Impacts of Climate Change: A System Vulnerability Approach (2007)
By Nils Gilman, Peter Schwartz, Doug Randall
Over the past two decades, and especially in the last few years, climate change has become one of the most heavily researched subjects in science. Yet climate change impact studies remain at the low end of usefulness for policymakers and others; they are not predictive enough to be actionable because the exact nature of the events that will jar the planet in the near- and long-term future—the wheres, whens, and hows of climate change—remains both unknown and unknowable. This paper offers policymakers an alternative approach to thinking about climate change and its impacts. Instead of starting with climate change and working out toward impacts, we focus on systems that are already generally vulnerable first, and then consider what the geophysics of climate change may do to them. This approach has two benefits. First, it limits the number of logical steps necessary for thinking about the impacts of climate change, enabling more confident insights and conclusions. Second, it cuts across analytic stovepipes and gives regional specialists a framework for thinking about what climate change will mean for their particular areas, based on expertise they already have. Download PDF
The book, an edited work, seeks to address a gap in scholarship, to wit, where others have covered why and how complex societies have collapsed, there is vitually nothing on how some, not all, regenerate. The editors do point out that most collapses are not total, and something is left (see my review of The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology) for a more nuanced review of this matter). It fails to go the full distance possible.
The combined authors posit a cycle of growth, collapse, and regeneration between ruralism and local autonomy, and urbanization with centralization of control.
In an excellent but not quite complete summary of the causes of collapse, the editors outline the following:
1. Fragmentation into smaller political entities
2. Partial or complete desertion of urban centers
3. Loss or depletion of centalizing functions
4. Breakdown of regional economic systems
5. Failure of civilization’s ideology
They do not mention the latest and best explanation, that the more complex a society becomes, the more expensive it is to make incremental improvements in management, and the unaffordability of the always increasing cost for each always decreasingly effective improvement ultimately leads to implosion (see Collapse as linked above).
The authors are somewhat narrow in focusing on prior structures of rule, authority, and governability. One puts this book down with the impression it was a first date between a political scientist and an anthropologist, and they fell into psycho-babble as a neutral common ground. See my loaded image, with the full thesis at my web site under my photo/Early Papers.
The conclusion, in two parts, consists largely of psycho-babble (the first part), and a very fine second part, much more interesting for its applicability to our time, that posits that when a centralized government goes too far in overseas adventurism, this opens the way for the provinces to secede and become autonomous again. I note that we have 27 secessionist movements in the USA, and they are having their second annual meeting in October of this year. I for one feel that there is no one now running, including Ron Paul, that understands that the secessionists, not the “party base” are the ones we should be listening to, for they are the only ones that see clearly that the Republic is no more.
To save the Republic, we must destroy two things and create one thing:
1. Destroy the Democratic and Republican parties (see Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers) and
2. Destory the unbound Executive and the abdicated Congress
3. Create a transpartisan ticket that demands electoral reform prior to 2008 and provides both a Sunshine Cabinet with integrated policies announced in advance, and a sustainable balanced budget that eliminates all personal income taxes while taxing the Federal Reserve for local, state, and federal revenues.
We need to make every budget transparent, and to publish every budget in time for citizen participation in the evaluation of every trade-off. We do this, or the United States of America is destroyed, courtesy of Wall Street, the Bush Family, the Saudis, and Dick Cheney.