Chapter IX - Global Civilization
An organized economy of free individuals can allow specialization, and allow the best utilization of local skills and resources, improving the overall quality of life, providing for research, education, and exploration. We may yet reach for the stars, but it may take the collective will and efforts of all of humanity.
History, and ancient architecture, show there have been many ancient civilizations, some of which may have explored the globe. They were however in relative isolation to the rest of the world.
When Egypt fell, it meant nothing to society in South America. We face a threat, and an opportunity not seen before, a global collapse, that may leave the Earth permanently scarred, or may leave the survivors with a world full of already processed materials ready to use.
Ancient China had oceangoing vessels, and could have explored (with their "advanced" science, potentially conquering) the world. The leadership decided instead to deter exploration, first outside the nation, then apparently internally, as China lost it's lead.
"The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in." - Robert A. Heinlein
We must, eventually, leave this planet, or be capable of dealing with asteroids, and an aging sun. We must continue to develop, mature, and learn.
Our minimum goal must be a civilization capable of continued health and life support on Earth for the projected viable span of the planet, potentially billions of years. A single eco-city may be able to preserve a great deal of the benefits of our present technological society, and continue advancement. But without reasonable distribution and balance globally, one such community would be faced with a myriad of levels of alternative gatherings, who would not necessarily have the global ecology in mind.
The characteristics of the whole cannot (even in theory) be deduced from the most complete knowledge of the components, taken separately or in partial combinations - Ernst Mayer, evolutionary biologist
We must preserve biodiversity. At the present, some estimates are that humanity, in one way or another appropriates for human use 50% of the productive biological life of the planet. We also continue to interfere with, and therefore significantly alter the natural environment globally. Say the Earth has around 43 million square mile of ice free land area, which probably includes areas too cold for a community that does not have readily available fuel for heating. In more temperate areas, there is probably around 37 million square mile. THERE IS A STORM COMING
Factors beyond the control of any local or national government, or global society, place every person on Earth on the front-line of a global battlefield. Criminals… terrorists… anyone who feels justified to use force to subjugate others, prefer cowering weak victims. A question, does an individual have a “right” to self defense, or not? If no, then there are no individuals, just chattel of whomever is the current warlord. If yes, the individual must have the right to possess whatever their personal situation and mindset allows and requires to exercise self defense. A decision of no right to private arms sends a clear message to criminals and terrorists alike, the door is flung wide-open to them. Worse, it flings open the door for untold numbers of incidents of government officials cracking-down on firearm owners, when the officials and citizens should be standing side-by-side in a united line of personal and national defense. OR A decision to uphold a clear right to private arms places the entire nation on the same foundation as those locations where state and local governments do not infringe an armed citizenry. Where are the hotbeds of criminal oppression of decent citizens? Where the same citizens are subjugated by their government. Government cannot protect citizens from crime, nor can it protect against terrorist acts. The government can though through oppression of citizens create an atmosphere conducive to criminal and terrorist activity of an increasing spiral. There is a storm coming… . Belief in or dedication to a particular ideology may alter individual perceptions, but not physical facts. The government is just a collection of citizens, with no more capability than the skills of the citizens serving. Every one of us is on the front-line. Along with the need to wake up and take personal responsibility for ourselves, we need our brothers and sisters within our government standing along side us, not enslaving us. POPULATION EXTREMES The potential human population, and technical level of civilization, depends in a great extent on the type of agriculture in primary use. Humans at the extreme of hunter-gatherer level, while relatively low-impact, may have only an average of 1 person subsisted per square mile, for a total human population of 37 million. (5/100 % of the 2006 population.) 99.95% of the present population must die and never be replaced. At the other extreme, where humans occupy the entire globe to the exclusion of all other species, and do so in the most compact "eco cities", then consider, if each city is 3025 sq. mile, the maximum sustainable human population is around 12 billion, to the extinction of essentially every other animal and non-human food species on the face of the planet. RESTORING NATURE If we as rational, thinking creatures limit ourselves to 10% of the productive area of the Earth, then the population range is 3.7 million to 1.2 billion, which at the UPPER limit would be 1,200 cities, averaged at 200 cities per continent. But this potential population is all capable of living at a similar advanced level. SIX + BILLION IN PERSPECTIVE
Could the present six+ billion population be provided for in organized civilization, given known science? Using for reference earlier discussions on physical needs at the individual, neighborhood, town, and city level, even if we have an energy miracle, such as cold fusion, or IEC fusion, is six+ billion an optimum population, or even practical?
Assume we want to place a mega city to provide for the current population, what does it look like?
Alternative 1: The mega city averages 12" annual rainfall which is collected for use and has 1/4 acre of cropland per person. It covers around 18,150,000 square miles. This is about one half of the temperate area of the landmass of the Earth. It is an area 4,260 miles on a side of continuous moderate density city with farm bands and water collection between each gathering of one million. There is no continent on Earth that meets the criteria.
Alternative 2: The mega city gets it's fresh water for farming from somewhere other than collecting it within it's own "borders" (example piped in de-salted ocean water) and has 1/4 acre of cropland per person. It covers 3,750,000 square miles or almost 20% of the temperate landmass of the Earth. It is an area 1,936 miles on a side of continuous moderate density city with just farm bands between each gathering of one million. Given significant engineering, we might be able to fit such on the Earth, with modification of overall layout, in the process though killing virtually all natural life on a continent.
Alternative 3: The mega city averages 12" annual rainfall which is collected for use and relies on biointensive crop production within each homestead or Homestead association gathering, and therefore does not need the farm beltway or crop water collection. It covers 1,350,000 square miles or around 4% of the temperate landmass of the Earth. It is an area 1,162 miles on a side of continuous moderate density city. This relies on continuous good crop production from a gardening system that requires constant attention, and perhaps, no “surprises”. Consider the effort to cover a continent with a single such city.
Alternative 4: The mega city gets it's fresh water from plentiful rainfall. It relies on biointensive crop production on the roof of structures. The entire city is effectively one structure, multi story. Only 10% of the total roof exposed to the sun is not in biointensive crops at mid-range biointensive. It covers 384,000 square miles or around 1% of the temperate landmass of the Earth. It is an area 620 miles on a side of continuous multi-level built structure. This “fits” in many places, but is really a high-tech, expensive, engineering intensive approach.
What we actually have is worse.
POPULATION AND LIVING CONDITIONS OPTIMIZED
Some continents could sustain more than 200 cities, some less. Restating, Earth has around 37 million square miles of land with temperate climate.
What percent of this do you believe should be dedicated to exclusive human use? 10%?
Dedicate 3.7 million square miles to human space.
Each city of a million has a footprint of 3,025 square miles.
This would represent a global human population of a little over 1 Billion. But every citizen would have the opportunity to grow adequate food, shelter, have access to the benefits of technology, etc.
But it requires personal responsibility.
VOLUNTARY GLOBAL INTERACTION
The personal computer and internet provides ordinary people knowledge and ability to communicate impossible to even a world leader only decades ago. The internet is a form of global anarchy (lack of government intervention) - inhabited by individuals. It has created its own rules and is self-policing, in example the various “wiki” projects, where anyone can register to make entries, with almost constant oversight, virtually none of which is paid or governmental.
The concepts presented in this treatise leads to a voluntary gathering in a human-scale city which meets the long term physical needs of the relevant local population, including the opportunity for education, investment and research for the future. If we can also maintain the infrastructure of the internet or something like it, the residents of such cities as maintain technology could continue to interact worldwide.
It is not uncommon for cities, even on opposite sides of the Earth, to adopt each other as "sister cities". Our technology, in particular the internet, allows such like minded and cooperating communities exchange of ideas “at the speed of light”.
WHAT IS THE GLOBAL NEED?
Once the day to day, as well as lifetime physical needs can once again be met by human scale interactions within a functioning human ecology (long-term sustainable self-reliant physical city), what, if any, is the need for any larger political unit?
What essential purpose does a political unit larger than a human-scale city serve? Prevention, mediation, or intervention in conflicts between / among cities is one, but is a state or nation as we have today required, or perhaps an agreed to arbitration panel of other cities?
In the early human civilization, we had city-states, perhaps the time has come to return to an organization system where the individual is important, has first-hand information and influence, and the ability to challenge officials directly.
Where individuals of like mind, indeed entire communities who are of like mind can meet online, why submit to potential or actual larger political oppression?
This author presents for consideration the question, what is the physical factor which mandates global civilization be more structured than an “anarchy” of autonomous and voluntarily cooperating cities?
We are past the paradigm where we can pretend to justify any community growing and reaching out to forcefully take under its control greater assets, or force the needs of its population on others. We are figuratively, if not quite yet physically, elbowing each other and treading on each other's toes.
There are of course challenges that could not be addressed by any one present day city. To present a hopefully extreme example, consider an approaching asteroid. No single city could financially or physically launch an intercept mission. While communication and cooperation network that can address such larger scale issues is still required, does it necessarily means someone must be constantly "in charge?"
A network is by definition nonhierachical. It is a web of connections among equals. What holds it together is not force, obligation, material incentive, or social contract, but rather shared values and the understanding that some tasks can be accomplished together that could never be accomplished separately - Beyond the Limits
Regardless of what you want, or what the bulk of the other people want; regardless of what is best for you, or best for the bulk of the people, there are those who want to control what you do, what you know, what you think, for their own gain.
Beware government censorship in any manner, of any material. Beware government mandated education and educational content. Beware government influence on any aspect of broadcasting.
There are those in government and elsewhere who want to monopolize what you see, hear, and whom you can communicate with. The only entity of course that can impose such a monopoly is a government, which stands with a gun to your head to enforce its monopoly. Politicians want to regulate such not only to limit you, but to tax your actions.
Yes, there are those who publish trash, or hateful propaganda. This is nothing new in history. But overall the trash is drowned-out by the growing “voices” of simple truth and use of freedom for personal and practical accomplishments.
As the social-progressives stack greater burdens on you, to bribe the support of their minions. What if Ayn Rand in her book Atlas Shrugged was right, not just for the ultra-wealthy and powerful, but for the common self-reliant person. Where and when the politicians act outside the appropriate scope of government (justified use of the threat of deadly force), what happens when you actually comply with their mandates, and the clear goal of their mandates.
What if you do what you are told to do, and nothing more? What if you do what you are rewarded to do, and nothing more? What if you STOP doing everything you are penalized for doing?
If they penalize you for earning money, then stop. Shift your efforts to self-sufficiency. High property taxes for an outwardly nice home? Look as simple as possible.
Perform such actions as are essential to you, but nothing else. The political and bureaucratic systems ARE DEPENDENT ON YOU. They want to penalize you for thinking, and achieving success, so don’t.
WHY DISENFRANCHISE NATIONS
As of the beginning of the new millennium, the USA is generally seen as the world’s last super power, and the world’s national policeman. There are nations arguably with greater industrial output (and pollution) such as China. There are nations functioning under belief systems that only “they” are right, and everyone, internal to their nation and external, must submit of be slaughtered. But in an analysis the capabilities of all are utterly dependent on fossil fuels. What sustainability aspect do nations and gatherings of such (i.e. the United Nations) provide which enhances the long-term sustainability of humanity?
Not everyone wants to live in the identical conditions. In nation-states we see the will of the political favorites imposed on all, with the costs in the end bore by those out of favor with the politicians. Are there any overriding reasons why the current arbitrary political divisions should continue to be granted validity?
Consider a goal of a human civilization which minimizes our impact on the “natural” aspects remaining on the globe. A civilization where the population is long-term stable based on the resources available in the “human” area of the ecology. A civilization that is limited to a population just large enough to maintain a fully functioning and developing community within each human enclave, while MAXIMIZING the resources available per person at each location and overall.
Loyalty to a nation is essentially loyalty to the “tribe” into which you were born. Now though outside your day to day physical needs, others with the same philosophical interests may be on the opposite side of the planet. INDIVIDUALS can use the internet to create or join a specific community of interest rather than be restricted by physical proximity. They are though for now still “stuck” with larger scale government edict controlling or prohibiting physical communities of like interest.
Throughout history, people have been asked, or forced to sacrifice their personal goals, interests or lives for the greater good of a larger community not of their choosing. The internet allows voluntary communities of interest, while maintaining physical life-support wherever one may be. Why can we not have cities where those of like mind can gather and prosper, or fail as their beliefs allow?
The single largest justification for the nation-state, and its taxation, is defense against other nation-states. Unfortunately THIS requirement remains valid for so long as any one “other” nation-state, or something essentially equal exists, or there is anyone in the world who would use such accumulated power and resources to impose their will on others.
Politicians (secular and religious) want broken families, complex easily broken laws, taxpayers as employees vs small business owners, etc. to help keep dependency on the state, and hide the true nature and level of taxes (imposed by law or guilt).
This author presents that the need for a concept of a nation-state, imposing the will of others on such minorities are who cannot sufficiently gain the attention of politicians, could be over.
POWERING DOWN NATIONS
The first level working down from globalization, and up from the individual where long-term sustainability of not only the individual, but civilization “intersects”, is at the level of the city. Absent an energy miracle, or someone squandering a great deal of resources, and lives, to impose for some time THEIR view, a productive anarchy of city-states appears to be humanities “best” future.
T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L – There aint’ no such thing as a free lunch. - Robert Heinlein
Minimize Taxes. A population that is primarily “employed” (as opposed to self-employed) can have a variety of taxes hidden “below the radar screen” by having the funds taken by the employer before the worker ever sees them. A person in business earns and receives the money, and must write a check to pay the taxes. Despite the financial effects being exactly the same, there is a large psychological difference in having to look at money already in your pocket, and send it as taxes, and money you never saw.
Programs which benefit selected individuals, or even large portions of the population, when imposed and funded by the nation-state can due to the hidden nature of taxes have the appearance being “free”, while in fact the local community is funding some program that is could, if it wished, provide locally WITHOUT the loss of some percentage of the money for the program being siphoned away for bureaucrats in the national system.
Communities must demand and enforce elimination of costs of government imposed from “senior” functions, and of course waive funding for such from “on high”. The carrot dangling in front of your nose is not “free”, it is there to entice you to haul a load for your master, and worse yet, you grew the carrot in the first place.
"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy” - Ayn Rand, from The Fountainhead.
Privacy. The internet, our phone system, etc. is essentially as much an “open book” as writing your personal thoughts on a postcard, or transmitting them over radio waves. Even your movements within your home can be watched from outside via devices that watch you in non-visual frequencies of “light”.
Currency. Although humans have come to accept money being issued by the “sovereign” - whether the king or the modern state, as has been shown earlier ANYONE can create money. Money is either a physical good of value that substitutes for direct barter, or a receipt for such barter material promised to be delivered on demand (think even airmiles). The worst represented as money is the “fiat” (ordered) currency of virtually every nation today, where the money represents NOTHING except a number. (If you will endulge, a joke, printing money is a way of turning useful paper into an uncertain ….
Nations give us created fiat money – a mandatory medium of exchange with no inherent value – and a mountain of debt created by spendthrift politicians who have bought votes with money either created, inflated or stolen from the hapless productive citizens.
Although governments have created the currency used as cash, they hate “cash” as it does not leave an accounting trail that can readily be taxed. Politicians are eager for the arrival of the cashless society, in order to wipe out private cash transactions, and tax everything.
There are those just as enthusiastic about eliminating our excess and oppressive government.