December 30 News/Links
One of the nation’s most widely planted crops — a genetically engineered corn plant that makes its own insecticide — may be losing its effectiveness because a major pest appears to be developing resistance more quickly than scientists expected.
Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska’s Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals’ fur coats.
In many instances, the impacts of technology have got out of control and it is now obvious that to continue on the same path would be very short-sighted. If technology is going to work for us, we need to change the way we develop it – and certainly the way we apply it. Fortunately there is good news on this front. Many innovators are working on alternative technologies that embrace natural processes, ‘Cradle to Cradle’ (or regenerative) design concepts, reduced resource utilisation and non-toxic products. There is, of course, another possibility to consider: maybe our current behaviour is part of our genetic disposition, and the way Homo sapiens is following its evolutionary path cannot be controlled or modified, no matter how clever we think we are.
How does this make for a theory of consciousness? Jaynes argued that most theories of consciousness are attempted metaphors. As such, they fail because “it should be immediately apparent that there is not and connot be anything in our immediate experience that is like immediate experience itself.” There is no model for consciousness, because no conceivable metaphier could be more immediate to us that consciousness itself. As such, no model is able to illuminate consciousness the way clouds can be illuminated by comparison with mounds of earth. Rather than thinking of consciousness as a particular metaphor, we should understand it as derived from the metaphor-generating ability of the human mind.
Aquatic habitats have, in general, degenerated throughout the world because of pollution by both industry and other activities. Human activities have, in general, resulted in much higher flows of minerals and organic materials through aquatic systems, often leading to eutrophication and a huge drop in the biomass produced in such systems. The lack of dissolved oxygen in water bodies, through its uptake by microbes for decomposition of organic compounds, produces degrees of anaerobiosis that results in major growth of anaerobic bacteria and the evolution of methane gases.
That article was a brief summary of the extreme challenges we now face. These next two articles are an attempt to move beyond this understanding of what has gone wrong, to develop a sense of what we can do now, as individuals and as a society.
We cannot “set things right” in the sense of restoring things to the way they once were, but we must begin now to adapt to the new realities if we are to reduce suffering and continue an advanced culture. Today’s article, “Out With the Old”, will discuss the end to seven unsustainable practices. In the next and final article in this series, “In With the New” will discuss new ways of living we can adopt as economic growth fails.