Roots, Branches, and Paradigms

By Wade Frazier

January 27, 2003 (revised in July 2014)

 

Roots, Branches, and Paradigms

Footnotes

Roots, Branches, and Paradigms

The Sun began burning its hydrogen fuel about 4.6 billion years ago, and that energy source propelled the rise of life on Earth.  Around a billion years later, life on Earth began.  The long journey of life on Earth had always been defined by its ability to acquire, preserve, and use energy, and when complex life appeared, pound-for-pound, it consumed energy 100,000 times as fast as the Sun produced it.  After many energy events both fortuitous and catastrophic, somewhere between one and two million years ago an ape learned to control fire, which allowed it to eventually conquer the planet and led to the man writing these words.  Each major event in the human journey was an energy event.  They each had epochal importance, and each event tapped a new energy source that provided an order of magnitude or more than was previously available.  Each event changed the human world so profoundly that nobody living before the change could have imagined what harnessing the new energy source would lead to. 

In summary, energy has always been the root of the human journey, and that will never change.  In addition, the defining parameter of human civilization has always been energy scarcity.  Civilized thought is founded upon the assumption of energy scarcity, in ways that can seem invisible, because assumptions can become imperceptible to those holding them.  The root of politics has always been economics.  The environment has always been the root of economics, and energy has always been the root of all life.  This essay will explore that subject.

Attempts made to interest various activists in my work inspired this essay.  It was not a successful effort.  This site’s thesis and proposed solutions has received very little feedback from those activists.  Perhaps everybody, including me, thinks they see the problem’s root as they hack at its branches, as Thoreau observed.  I am not alone in my understanding that energy is the root issue regarding today’s world, and the long-term (or even short term) survivability of the human species.  Buckminster Fuller had energy as a central theme of his work.[1]  Brian O’Leary also saw energy as humanity’s root issue.  The USA has been toying with beginning World War III over the hydrocarbon deposits in Western and Central Asia.  There are many other factors in the human journey, but as with life itself, it all rides on top of the energy issue, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Whether this universe came into existence from a Big Bang, a Creator in a white beard waving his hands and saying, “Let there be light,” or other ways, nobody is disputing the idea that this universe’s energy centers are its stars.  According to today’s scientific theories, stars are huge fusion reactors, mainly comprised of hydrogen and subatomic particles under tremendous gravitational pressure.  The larger atoms are supposedly created in star cores, as the pressures forced nuclei together to form larger elements (the pressures in stars, especially while dying, are theorized as sufficient to make this happen, and the resultant supernovae seed the surrounding galactic vicinity with heavier elements, which form planets, etc.).  According to today’s prevailing theory, Earth was once part of a star core, and it is composed mainly of iron, which is the most stable element created in a star.

Earth's mass is about a third iron and half metal, with almost all the rest being oxygen and silicon.  Lighter elements “rose” and settled on Earth’s surface.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is always seeking its most stable state, with hot things giving their heat to cold things.  Entropy is always happening, with all energy systems going through their stages and eventually winding down.  The work of Ilya Prigogine and others challenged the limits imposed the Second Law, and chaos theory is in vogue in certain corners.[2]  However, nobody is challenging the notion that all life on Earth depends on the capture of sunlight by photosynthesis (or chemical synthesis for some classes of microscopic organisms).  If the Sun disappeared tomorrow, Earth’s surface life would almost immediately vanish. 

The fossil record tells a story of life evolving in Earth’s primeval oceans, and eventually migrations to land happened.  Biology became more efficient and sophisticated, whether it was fish, plants, or reptiles.  Earth’s biosphere has also experienced several major extinction episodes, the first happening more than 400 million years ago.  For reasons still debated, ice ages and hot ages have punctuated Earth’s past.  The level of solar energy reaching the lower atmosphere and Earth’s surface largely determines the global climate.  Today, Earth is experiencing a rapid warming trend most likely due to the great increase of greenhouse gases that the industrial age has created. 

Carbon makes life on Earth possible, and carbon’s ability to form double and triple bonds with other carbon atoms can store great amounts of energy.  Today’s coal deposits were laid down by forests before life learned to digest ligninEarth’s oil deposits were created by Earth’s oceans in anoxic events, and are currently being used by civilized humans about a million times as fast as they were created.  The maximum extraction rate of oil was reached in 2005-2006, and at current rates, in my lifetime all of Earth's oil will be burned up. 

Life is an anti-entropic process.  It takes energy from the environment and creates order where there previously was none.  Cells are marvelously organized entities.  The photosynthetic process in a tree captures sunlight energy.  It then uses that energy to take water from the ground (and metals – they comprise most of the ash after wood is burned), carbon dioxide from the air and combine them into cellulose (as well as other carbohydrates, fat, and lignin), which makes the tree.  Energy is stored in the bonds making the tree, energy that is released when the tree is digested or burned. 

About 231 million years ago, the great reptiles known as dinosaurs appeared, and the first mammals appeared several million years later.  Today, it is theorized that later reptiles began chemically regulating their internal body temperatures, as did mammals.  Becoming warm-blooded required a great use of energy, and fur was an energy-saving adaptation that allowed mammals to live in climates too cold for reptiles.  Plants were also evolving, and flowering plants appeared about 160 million years ago.  Flowers become seeds, and the eventual appearance of fruit provided a symbiotic relationship with the animals that ate them, as they spread the seed.  As trees became more sophisticated and branchy, a class of mammals particularly adapted to tree life appeared: primates.  Primates have opposable thumbs, limbs with great range of motion, binocular vision, and most significantly, large brains (thought to be an evolutionary response to the visual demands of their environment).  As animals increased in their sophistication, they became more adaptable.  When environmental conditions change, animals and plants adapt or die off.  Few animals leave their ecological niches, and if they do, it largely has to do with food availability.  Larger primates, especially monkeys, are highly social creatures that can live in packs of more than 100 animals.  Most monkeys eat fruit as their dietary staple, although most primates are omnivorous. 

Apes began appearing about 35-29 million years ago, which were humanity’s ancestors.  After migrations from and back to Africa, what became humans began to split from other apes, with gorillas first splitting off, then chimpanzees, and then the human line split from the chimps between seven and five million years ago.  Gradually, the human line left the trees, probably being pushed out of the rainforest shrinking by their more dominant cousins, and the human line began to walk upright around four million years ago.  The big toe gradually lost its opposable feature in the upright apes.  Tool-making began before the human/chimp split, which led to a greater availability of food sources, the human line apes left the trees, it freed up their hands for other manipulations, and they began exploiting new sources of food and their hands became more dexterous.  About 2.5-2.6 million years ago, an australopith made the first stone tool

A significant use of early stone tools was probably scavenging predator kills in Africa.  About two million years ago, African predators migrated beyond Africa, and early members of the genus Homo apparently migrated with them.  Such migrations are nearly always presumed to be in response to changes in the ability of their former environment to provide enough food (energy), or the supply being insufficient for the increased numbers of animals.  In 2014, the issue is highly controversial, but it seems that the control of fire allowed the human line to leave the trees, and Homo erectus is the first primate that is adapted to ground living and no longer slept in trees.  I currently vote for the likely series of events being Homo erectus's ancestor controlled fire more than two million years ago, which allowed them to sleep on the ground and which led to Homo erectus.  Also, the shrunken digestive tract of Homo erectus meant that it ate easily digested foods, which likely meant cooked food.  That is what I think as of 2014, which future findings may confirm or falsify. 

Around 200,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans appeared, and all other human species eventually died out, likely driven to extinction by Homo sapiens, leaving Homo sapiens alone on the humanoid scene.  If humans are a sentient species or ensouled, as the mystic might say, when did that happen?  Cetaceans may have been sentient/ensouled for far longer than humans have.  Scientists have theories about what sentience means, and religionists have their ideas about what ensoulment means, and that debate may never end, but I agree that something happened that set humans apart from other land-based mammals Was it “divine intervention?”  Is the real story of humankind’s creation somewhat like the Book of Genesis and other creation myths?  Was it extraterrestrial and/or inter-dimensional intervention?  How many, if any, technologically advanced civilizations have called earth home in the distant past?  At this time, I favor the scientific hypotheses, but that does not mean that I accept the materialistic interpretations. 

Whatever the case may be, early humans kept increasing their technological prowess, which was always directed toward greater energy availability.  About 60,000 years ago, humans created weaponry and hunting tactics that made them into super-predators.  With their new killing ability, they began spreading across the planet, migrating to previously unsuitable environments, and it was the golden age of the hunter-gatherer.  Large mammals that had never seen humans before, with few or no natural predators, were easy prey to the new methods and technology.  First, Africa’s large, slow mammals were rendered extinct, and the wave of extinctions across Earth closely coincided with human settlement.[3] 

About 10,000 years ago, human settlement spanned the planet, and all easy meat was rendered extinct.  Humans then began exploiting new energy opportunities, and plants and animals were domesticated.  Cellulose comprises most edible plant matter, but most animals cannot digest it (which is a good thing, or else animals would have devoured all plants).  Humans then largely domesticated animals that could digest cellulose (cattle, sheep, goats, horses, llamas, yaks), and domesticated plants that could provide digestible calories, generally in their roots and seeds.  Various melons/fruits were also domesticated, as well as plants that could provide fiber for fabric, rope, etc.  Sheep and llamas provided wool and meat, cattle provided milk, meat and leather, and horses, camels, and llamas provided transportation.

Civilization began forming with the Domestication Revolution, partly because humans could become sedentary, not continually roaming the land in search of food.  The “agricultural surplus” of the Domestication Revolution began allowing for people to develop skills other than food procurement, and professions began forming.  Also, the diseases of civilization began appearing.  In addition, humans were domesticated.  Slavery began when sedentary living did.  While domesticating a horse took work, convincing humans to accept their enslaved status was more difficult, and early slave conditioning was almost certainly the beginning of ideological indoctrination, so slaves would accept their status, as well as people accepting elite status, which the priesthood abetted.  People born into captivity, who never knew freedom, were always the easiest-managed slaves.  Forced labor institutions existed until the Industrial Revolution, and when machines could do the work of humans, slavery ended.  Humans were then rented instead of owned. 

Humans began working metal early in the Domestication Revolution.  It is thought that copper is the first metal ever worked.  As with its cousins silver and gold, copper could be found in nuggets, as it was relatively non-reactive (resistant to entropy), and could be found in a relatively pure state.  Because copper is harder than silver or gold, it had practical uses.  Because of copper’s relatively low melting point, it is estimated that around 7,000 years ago, people learned to melt copper in their hearth fires in the Fertile Crescent’s steppe region.  Humans reversed entropy in a new way by smelting metals.  With the advent of metallurgy, humans could manipulate their environments as never before, to extract more energy from them.  Humans invented bronze, which was far harder than copper, and bronze made plow agriculture more feasible (along with draft animals to pull them).  The earliest use of each metal appears to have been artistic, but soon gave way to practical applications.  A common use of metal was in weaponry, in order to kill human competitors for energy (land, food, shelter, animals).  Organized intra-species murder can be seen in chimpanzees today, the only great ape besides humans that engages in such behavior.  Warfare is a peculiarly human activity. 

Virtually all early human technology, from stone tools to dwellings, clothing, pottery, weaponry, and the like had to do with extracting/preserving useful energy.  As the environment was manipulated to human ends, nearly all other species suffered for it.  Earth is currently experiencing its sixth major extinction episode, which began with the megafauna extinctions, and has continued to accelerate with human “progress.”  In 2014, one-fourth of Earth’s mammal species, and one-eighth of its bird species, are in immediate threat of human-caused extinction.  The methods of civilization also destroyed the environment.  The Fertile Crescent, where civilization first appeared, is largely desert today (as is much of the Mediterranean region), as deforestation and plow agriculture destroys forest ecosystems, and forests are the world’s greatest soil builders, and soil is the basis for land-based ecosystems.  Deforestation also disrupts the land-based hydrological cycle, even changing the climate, making it drier, which leads to desertification.  Civilization’s very methods cut its legs out from under it.  There have been exceptions to that trend, particularly in the New World that was still largely in its Stone Age, where the Pacific Northwest culture was environmentally sustainable, as was the Plains economy, and also the Eastern Woodlands.  The Amazon region may also have been a consciously husbanded environment.  Such environmental gentleness may have partly evidenced the spiritual attitudes of New World natives, with their spirituality that saw humans as part of the circle of life, and nature as their partner.  That attitude was in stark contrast to the Book of Genesis, which put humans in charge of Earth, with its angry, vengeful male sky-god, and the nature-fearing/conquering mentality of many Judeo-Christian peoples.

As human technological prowess increased, higher temperatures enabled humans to create iron implements, which greatly increased human ability to manipulate the environment, and create much greater carnage in warfare.  Also, ideology increased in sophistication, and was used to herd and control the masses under a ruling class.  Organized religion appeared with civilization, with slaves, artists, farmers, herders, prostitutes, politicians, priests, and soldiers being among the earliest specialized occupations.  Writing made its appearance, and history thus began, with Sumer becoming the world’s first literate society. 

With ensoulment/sentience also came the human ego, and the capacity to choose “good” or “evil.”  For the entirety of human civilization, its elites have engaged in luxurious consumption.  Whether it was the Egyptians working slaves to death to mine gold for royalty, or Hawaiians making brightly feathered capes for its monarchs (which drove the birds with such plumage to extinction) or the early 21st century's rocket rides into space (for about $20 million a trip), human elites have always indulged their egos at the expense of others.

Earth’s surface is finite; its available energy has always been finite, and all ecosystems have operated within the parameters of available energy.  The other limiting factor has been the availability of water, upon which all earthly life depends (and some nutrient issues such as nitrogen and minerals).  Water’s availability (for land-based creatures) has always been dependent on the hydrological cycle, which is driven by the Sun’s energy.  Migrating past the (energy-rich) tropics to human-hostile environments required the many energy-acquiring/preserving innovations that have marked human “progress,” and energy scarcity became an obvious issue to early humans, probably as all the easily hunted mammals began disappearing.  The Zero-Sum Game then began forming.  It became institutionalized very early in civilization, and is based on the assumption of scarcity.  In the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, the game for soldiers has always been, “You or me to the death - on behalf of yours or mine - for there is not enough to sustain us both.”[4]  Energy scarcity has defined the human journey, which has largely been one of plundering an energy resource until used up, and then moving on to the next resource until used up, and so on (megafauna, trees, arable land, fish, birds, fur-bearing animals, whales, coal, oil, etc.). 

Accompanying the rise of civilization and ideology (and helping cause it) was abstract thinking.  The pursuit of religion, writing, art, politics, and other endeavors required abstract thought.  A major hazard of abstract thinking is its creation and use of symbols, which are often substituted for “reality.”  Mistaking the symbolic for the real has been one of humanity’s greatest pitfalls.  Because religion deals with realities beyond the physical plane (or purports to), there is no non-physical reality to physically point to, to validate a great deal of religious symbolism.  That has been the bane of all religions, trying to depict non-physical realities in physical reality.  It can easily fall prey to idolatry and dogma (“it is this way because I say so,” or some “authority” says so), and Western science’s methods were partly a reaction to that unenlightened practice (such as Galileo’s principle of observation, although that principle is regularly abandoned by the scientists themselves).  However, such abstraction also takes place in ideologies having nothing to do with trans-physical realities.  In addition, because most humans are captive to their egos to one degree or another, being mainly self-serving, substituting symbols for realities has been a primary method by which humans have manipulated each other’s minds, in pursuit of ego-serving activities.

One discipline particularly susceptible to substituting symbols for reality is economics, and that practice dates to human civilization’s earliest days.  The human journey, ever since the genus Homo left Africa a couple million years ago, has been about 99.9% preoccupied with obtaining enough food.  Even today, the primary goal of most of Earth’s humans is getting enough to eat.  The human stomach is the bedrock economic reality and always has been.  As humans plundered new energy sources (or developed ways to harvest more energy from the environment, such as the paddy system of China), there was relative energy security, but humans soon bred to the energy supply’s limits, and as the supply became insufficient, people would starve, engage in warfare, etc.  In that respect, Malthus’s perspective of the human journey was accurate.  When people have energy security, they become relatively content.

The first economic abstractions were probably done for political/religious reasons.  Early political/religious elites concocted ideologies that made them more worthy of being fed than commoners or slaves.  There are no starving kings.  In early Sumer, economics, politics and religion were united, with priest-bureaucrats running the societies.  The Sumerian temples were the gold repositories, as well as the seat of temporal power.  Palaces appeared laterGold had artistic merit, and was used in early religious symbology.  While the concept of money was invented independently in numerous cultures, as a way to exchange goods (usually food) the earliest known use of money is thought to be about 2500 BCE in Sumer, and silver became the preferred money in the Fertile Crescent and vicinity around 2100 BCE, to be supplanted by gold a millennium later.  Gold and silver became the logical basis of money, because they were scarce (although abasement of gold with copper was practiced even by early pharaohs), and were probably used as money long before there were written records of the practice.

Money has no intrinsic value, except money that can be consumed, and in “primitive” economies, food was often used as money, with ears of maize used as currency in Mesoamerican society, and barley in the Fertile Crescent (by its non-elites).  When symbols became substituted for reality, then conditions became ripe for deception, as symbols can be manipulated so that reality can be distorted or even turned upside down, as people become mesmerized by the symbols, while ignoring the underlying reality the symbols theoretically represent.  Real wealth is food, shelter, transportation, free time (all are energy concepts, or rely on energy) and the like.  Real wealth has nothing to do with money.  Money is merely the scorekeeper, not the game. 

In economic theory, there are two sub-disciplines, macroeconomics and microeconomics.  Macroeconomics deals with the economy of a nation, for instance, and microeconomics deals with the economy of a single market or a single family, for instance.  There is an inherent conflict between the two disciplines.  The world’s first major economic treatise was Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.  Smith’s ideal was that each person, competing in the “free market,” would benefit the entire society through their self-interested efforts.  So, microeconomic decision-making would benefit the macroeconomic picture.  Charles Darwin theorized similarly about the natural world, that through creatures warring with one another, in their struggle for survival, comes the “progress” of evolution.

A historic example of the conflict between microeconomics and macroeconomics, and the difference between wealth and its symbol, was history’s greatest gold rush, the Spanish plunder of the New World during the 16th century.  The world’s biggest gold rush helped the Spanish Crown go bankrupt.  Spain was probably worse off in 1600 than it was in 1500, while Spaniards helped kill off around 75%-90% of a hemisphere’s population (a situation of such enormous magnitude that nothing in history compares to it).  A few mercenaries became rich while the nation became poorer.  The Spanish sovereigns neglected Spain’s real economy while pursuing wealth’s symbol.  Spain’s ignorance of what real wealth was doomed their imperial efforts.  The English and the Dutch were far more successful in their imperial enterprises, with their mercantilist plunder of distant lands.  While some success was simply the confluence of circumstances their countries benefited from, they were more scientifically minded than their Spanish rivals as well as more business-oriented.  With the advent of paper money and today’s electronic global banking, the abstraction of wealth reached even greater heights, also leading to greater elite manipulation

All of science’s greatest breakthroughs have come when new paradigms were erected, and they always came about by questioning the founding assumptions of the previous paradigm.  The assumptions of today’s prevailing economic theory are scarcity, fear, and greed.  Those principles are assumed in the law of supply and demand, and the “invisible hand of competition.”  The law of supply and demand states that people will increase the price of scarce commodities in order to make greater profits at the expense of their customers.  Monopoly control of supply is the dream of every capitalist.  Such economic ideology rationalizes greed (the fear of never having enough), and makes it a founding assumption of the modern economic paradigm.  Once assumed, founding principles are rarely examined afterward, as questioning it could topple the entire paradigm.  That is largely why scientists, and nearly all people, are highly resistant to questioning their assumptions.  Today’s invisible hand of competition is the fear that your competitor will put you out of business (or erode your profit margins).  That fear motivates all capitalistic empires, and virtually all industries and professions have largely turned into rackets, with wiping out the competition being their primary goal.  That is a major reason why America’s standard of living has been declining for the past generation.  An assumption of abundance would completely overturn today’s economic paradigm, and may be the chief catalyst in bringing heaven on Earth into being.

Real wealth has always been rooted in earth’s ability to support life.  As Brian O’Leary once told me, there can be no economy on a planet that cannot support life.  An old Native American saying was that when the white man chopped down the last tree and poisoned the last river, he would realize that he could not eat money.  Today’s economics, where money measures everything, and destroying an environment in pursuit of short-term economic gain does not appear in the tally, is a house of cards that is built on false assumptions while wearing blinders.  To separate environmental reality from economic theory is an ideological decision that serves to further obscure what real economics is.  Such ideological gamesmanship is no accident.  Today’s economic theory is dominated by economists from the University of Chicago, an institution that history’s most notorious robber baron, John D. Rockefeller, built.  Academics and scholars not owned by such interests see the ideology coming from the University of Chicago and similar institutions as a form of brainwashing.[5]  As Noam Chomsky and others make clear, when Western states largely lost their ability to establish their “legitimacy” by simply using force on their domestic populations, then elites had to resort to controlling what people thought.[6]  That idea has nothing to do with a “conspiracy theory,” but is an easily researched social engineering project that is more than a century old.  The “dumbing down” of the USA's population (and to a lesser extent, Western Europe and the former British colonies) has been a goal of industrial and corporate elites for a long time, something I was eventually able to see in my own indoctrination, after I had my “radicalizing” experience.

Accordingly, Chicago School economists will turn a blind eye (probably unconsciously) to the underlying reality of the energy industry driving the world economy, as their chief patron controls the world’s energy industry to some degree. Neoclassical economics, which dominates economic theory of the early 21st century, is almost completely divorced from the real world

It is a hallmark of Western reductionism to ideologically separate economics from the environment and politics.  The food industry is part of the energy industry.  Whether energy is measured in calories, kilowatt-hours, or barrels of oil is of relatively slight importance, not meaningful enough to segregate them into entirely separate disciplines.  For every calorie of food that makes it to a Westerner’s dinner table today, about ten calories of fossil fuel energy are consumed to grow it and get it there.  Categorizing the food and energy industries separately is partly why people are unable to see the big picture of what is really happening.  It is also a primary reason why most activists hack at the situation’s branches, while ignoring the root. 

While tree hugging and peace marches can be noble activities, unless the root issues are addressed, they are largely futile gestures.  When I was with Dennis Lee in Boston, and we dealt with anti-nuclear-energy protestors, our message was that the best way to “fight” nuclear energy was to make it obsolete.  We found, however, that protestors were far more interested in chaining themselves to the front gates of the Seabrook nuclear reactor.  I hug trees, and was in several peace marches since the “terrorist” attacks of September 11, 2001, but until the underlying economic motivation of why America is about to invade the Middle East is addressed (seizing control of the world’s most lucrative energy supply and expanding imperial domination), all the peace marches and civil disobedience will have a very limited effect.

All wars for the entirety of world history had an underlying economic basis, primarily concerned with resources, but the ruling classes cannot get the masses to throw the lives of its young men away with that stark understanding, so elites have conjured up all manner of ideological cover stories to mask the underlying economic motivation.  The rationales given have been religious, racial, ethnic, political, humanitarian, and whatever else can delude and motivate the masses.  Truth has been the first casualty of all wars, and that dynamic will never change. 

The global ruling class (I have borne the brunt of their machinations (1, 2), so I know how real they are) has been busy enforcing the scarcity paradigm, so people can be incited to commit violence against each other.  Free energy definitely exists, but a global effort to derail anything that can challenge the current energy industry has long been in place.  It is real, but it has been virtually impossible to get anybody to comprehend the root issue of energy scarcity and how it is being managed on a global basis.  How difficult is it to imagine that global elites like ruling in hell just fine, and will sabotage anything that makes humans independent of the global exploitation system, which personal abundance would do?  The notion of conscious manipulation of the global political-economic system is almost universally derided as a “conspiracy theory.”  The global elites will never advertise the real game, although it does surface in the public record sporadically, such as David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission issuing a report that global democracy is a threat that needed attention.[7]  Also, there are rare admissions from the inside as to what the game really is.  People with their eyes and minds open can readily figure it out. 

Political “democracy” in the absence of economic democracy is an empty vessel, which most Americans realize at some level, which is largely why the USA has the “free” world’s lowest voter turnout.  As a corollary, political activism in the absence of economic activism is impotent.  The proper term for the American political-economic system is a plutocracy, which means that the rich run it.  The rich have always run the United States, going clear back to when America’s richest man became its first president, and its first Supreme Court Justice (John Jay) openly stated that the people who own the country should run it (it was his favorite maxim, according to his biographer). 

Democratically free, abundant, and environmentally harmless energy exists but is suppressed by a global effort, and its liberation is the key step in overturning the scarcity paradigm that has dominated human thought and action for at least the past 10,000 years.

The hazard of paradigms is that they are built on assumptions, assumptions that can blind people indoctrinated into those paradigms.  Hacking at branches can be useful, as long as it ultimately aims for the root.  While energy is the root issue of our physical existence, there also is a deeper root, one the great masters know well.  Until the advent of Western materialism, all peoples have had a sense of a “higher” reality, a divine origin from which this universe manifested.  That sense has been the root of all religions, and that source has been called names such as the divine light, the force, the infinite spirit, God and so forth.  The energy that created and sustains this universe, and all of Creation, is the energy of love.  That is what “God” really is.  Energy is the root issue of Creation too, something that Jesus knew well, as did history’s other masters.  To say that energy is the root of the issue, or to say that love is the root of the issue, is stating the same thing.  It just depends on how big we want to draw the picture.  Will we have hell on earth or heaven on earth?  It is up to us.

 

Footnotes

[1] See Fuller’s Utopia or Oblivion, for instance.  Steve Meyers studied under Fuller and made me aware of this aspect of Fuller’s work after this website was substantially completed in September 2002.  Fuller saw humanity’s prime commodity being “ephemeral ideas aligned with the principles of creation” and their practical application, with energy being the most fundamental supporter of human needs on Earth.  When America had its first energy crisis in the 1970s, Fuller said the real crisis was one of human ignorance, not energy.  I agree with that perspective, although it still comes down to energy being the root issue for the human journey.  Without energy, there is no life.  With enlightenment, boundless energy can be made available to humanity, in a way that harms no other creatures.  Although Fuller’s major theme was creating a sustainable global civilization, and the energy issue was central to it, academia and the media have ignored/suppressed that aspect of his work, and most people have only heard about Fuller because of his geodesic dome.  During January and February 2003, I had the pleasure of reading Fuller’s Utopia or Oblivion and Grunch of Giants.  Steve said that Utopia best summarized the overall theme of Fuller’s work, while Grunch was the closest that Fuller came to calling the global political-economic system what it really is, with a perspective similar to Noam Chomsky's and other radical leftists (Parenti, Herman, etc.).  Reading Fuller’s work was discovering the professional grandfather that I never knew I had (although Fuller declined to call himself a professional - Utopia, p. 336).  The material for Utopia came from the mid-1960s, while Fuller wrote Grunch soon before his death in 1983.  Parts of Utopia seemed limited, incorrect, or dated, but some of what was missing in Utopia became more evident in Grunch, as far as how Fuller saw humanity’s situation.  Steve said that Fuller had to walk a tightrope: making his case without being marginalized as Chomsky has, and Chomsky has been the world’s most prominent academic since the 1960s.  It is probably no accident that Fuller wrote Grunch at his life’s end, purveying his pithier observations when he could no longer be penalized.  Just as Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has been misrepresented and watered down since his death (Jesse Jackson says the establishment transformed King into the “harmless dreamer” after his death), so has Fuller’s legacy been diluted, misappropriated and even ignored by today’s establishment.

Whatever criticisms might be made about Fuller’s work are mere quibbles compared to pondering his masterful synthesis and his great humanitarian labors.  He was far ahead of his time.  As far as the differences between Fuller’s work and this site: he deals with geometry in detail (partly how he invented his geodesic dome); this site incorporates more of a spiritual perspective, and deals with the evolution of the medical establishment and the racketeering that pervades all of today’s industries and professions; this site does not shrink from the political-economic-historical topics that Fuller treaded rather lightly upon until Grunch; I have seen first-hand evidence that manipulating the global political-economic system is partly conscious (see here, here and here), while Fuller described the more structural (unconscious) aspects of it; this site focuses on more than just humanity’s welfare, but all life on Earth; Fuller relieved American citizens of a great deal of their personal responsibility for what is happening, while I emphasize our responsibility, largely because Americans are uniquely positioned to initiate bringing a global Utopia or destruction into being.  It is an awesome responsibility, and so far, Americans are not handling their inheritance very well (and by 2014, they were no longer my target audience, as I seek a global audience).  Steve Meyers is Fuller’s direct professional descendent.  Humanity stands poised to create a global Utopia, or we may destroy ourselves.  The mass of humanity has largely come to this stage of its existence unconsciously, usually without trying to benefit anybody other than themselves.  The time to become conscious, and help all people attain sufficiency in life’s necessities, is upon us.  Failure to do so may mean our demise by our own hand.  With that comparison out of the way, what follows are some of the simple but profound truths that Fuller pursued for many years.

Humanity’s hands and intelligence led to tool-making ability that allowed humans to exploit energy in ways that other animals could not.  That led to people expanding their range across the planet.  Humanity’s journey has always centered around manipulating the environment to gain energy security, and our reservoir of knowledge and skill has generally been a process of compounding itself, as our ancestors evolved through their stone, bronze, iron, industrial, and information ages.  Until relatively recently, there have never been enough resources so all humans can live to a reasonable life expectancy of ninety years or so.  The concept of scarcity was ingrained in humans early on, and is the great invisible assumption of today’s humanity.  However, it is an obsolete assumption, at least as far as human life on earth is concerned.  The technology came into being before 1970 to clothe, house, feed, transport and educate all of humanity at a standard of living not even attainable by European royalty during the 19th century. 

Nearly all the metal ever mined is still being used by humans, as all elements are eternally recyclable, as long as there is sufficient energy to do so.  When Europeans learned to sail the oceans, what followed was largely an act of global piracy.  Technological and scientific advances were conscripted into making ships hold more cargo, to make them swifter, to make their armaments more deadly, and so on, as Europe’s nations vied for supremacy.  That competition greatly accelerated the trend of “doing more with less.”  Technology developed for ships was used in land applications much later, such as with steel and refrigeration.  Sea dominance eventually gave way to air dominance, and space dominance is the latest goal.  The emphasis for centuries has been making vessels lighter, more capable, and deadly.  The “doing more with less” idea can be summed up in one word: efficiency.

Before the invention of radio, ships at sea could not effectively communicate with their imperial masters, so sea captains needed training in diverse disciplines, as they needed to be self-reliant (Utopia, pp. 41-42).  With the invention of radio, captains could take orders directly from their superiors in real time, and diversity in a captain’s training was no longer as necessary.  Specialization has been the hallmark of science and industry, but specialization also tends to contribute to tunnel vision.  Specialists know about their particular discipline, but rarely see the larger context their efforts impact.  Fuller called himself a generalist, and meant it in a comprehensive sense.  Fuller believed that the specialization in science and other technical endeavors was a ruling class tactic to keep specialists from seeing the big picture, so they could be controlled (Utopia, p. 334).  Science is largely a slave profession (Utopia, p. 304), and its master is capital, i.e., stolen and hoarded wealth.  Only comprehensivists can see the big picture, and thereby consciously develop the big answers.

According to Fuller, scarcity has always been the motivation of soldiers, and until the scarcity problem is resolved on a global basis, we will always have wars.  Because of perceived scarcity, greed became the centerpiece of today’s economic ideology.  One of Fuller’s most trenchant observations was that all political ideologies are founded upon the idea of scarcity, and politicians are preoccupied with who gets the scarce resources.  Capitalism avers that idle capitalists should enjoy the scarce resources, while Marxism posits that workers should.  Fuller noted that because politics is founded on scarcity, or what I call the Zero-Sum-Game idea, no political ideology is of any use in resolving the scarcity issue.  Fuller wrote:

 

“Making the world resources adequate can’t be accomplished through political system competition.  All politics are obsolete as fundamental problem solvers.  Politics are only adequate for secondary housekeeping tasks.  Mankind must take universal initiative in effecting the design revolution.” (Utopia, p. 156)

 

Fuller wrote that if all politicians and ideologues were relocated to the moon tomorrow, but all the industrial infrastructure was left intact and the people who operate it, human society would do just fine.  Take away the machinery and industrial capacity, while leaving the politicians and the attendant political infrastructure intact, and most of humanity would starve to death in a few months (Utopia, p. 157).  Under an abundance paradigm, today’s politics are useless.  Fuller wrote that politicians have always been “stooges” of the economic interests (Utopia, p. 276).  Fuller wrote that the old Utopias always failed because they were based on shared austerity.  A Utopia based on abundance has a chance of coming to pass.

Many of Fuller’s visions did not come to pass as he envisioned, and most are still in the future, if they ever happen.  Steve Meyers and I discussed people’s resistance to visions such as Fuller’s or ours.  It has been awesome to witness the general population’s intractable resistance to the idea of abundance, and for many years, people like us have beaten our heads against the walls of organizations that claim to be seeking answers. They have been shown solutions that make the big problems, the ones that threaten humanity’s existence, go away almost overnight, and the response is nearly complete silence and denial, or worse, derision.  Dennis Lee discovered the same thing on his journey.  That might be the most mind-boggling part of my strange journey, and I came to a new understanding of the phenomenon in early 2006.  The vast majority of people do not even want to know that there are solutions waiting to be used, and those who say they seek solutions are often the biggest obstacles to achieving them.  What follows are our speculations, based on our experiences, on why most of humanity does not want to solve its problems. 

Fuller stated that for virtually the entirety of human history, only one-in-one-thousand people lived to a ripe old age, and only one-in-one-hundred-thousand was an economic success (Utopia, p. 340).  Consequently, the concept of failure has been nearly hardwired into human consciousness.  Most people seem addicted to the fear/failure/scarcity paradigm, and ideas of abundance are literally outside their universe of possibility.  Also, people often subscribe to ideologies that short-circuit their awareness, blinding them to what is really happening.  The quickest dialogue-ender I have ever experienced regarding my work is people telling me they are “skeptical” that free energy is even possible, and I respond with the offers we received to cease our pursuit of free energy, the last one being around one billion dollars.  I do not even get back, “I do not believe you, give me evidence of your offer” (our treatment was pretty standard, as I eventually discovered, but more extreme, because we were more “threatening,” as far as being able to deliver alternative/free energy).  When I mention the offers we received, I receive pure silence as their response, virtually every time.  Why?  Steve thought it was because if they acknowledged that situation, it would shatter their comforting fantasies of how this world operates.  The radical left, with its “conspiracy phobia,” has virtually never responded to my work, even from those who say they are looking for answers.  Even Noam Chomsky says that Earth’s rulers would rather destroy the planet than give up their “power.”

I believe that the cognitive dissonance dynamic partly explains the denial I have encountered.  It is far easier to dismiss my experiences than acknowledge them, because to acknowledge them, people would have to rethink their worldviews.  In the end, it comes down to integrity.  I discovered the hard way that personal integrity is the world’s scarcest commodity.  Only one-in-thousands of people have proven to have the integrity needed to pursue the world’s big problems.  Fuller’s ratio of people who can technically create answers was even smaller.  Fuller wrote that only one-in-one-hundred-thousand trained scientific types will make the breakthroughs necessary to keep technologically advancing humanity, but that one would be enough (Utopia, p. 261).  I believe that the low collective integrity of the human species, combined with that low number of creatively competent technical types, is largely why we have been heading toward oblivion more than we are Utopia.  Nearly every major scientific/technical innovation was initially greeted with outrage and/or denial by the scientific community, and many potentially earth-shaking ones are marginalized and derided to this day, to humanity’s detriment.  Brian O'Leary told me that it is worse in the 21st century than it was when the Wright brothers were ignored for five years after they first flew. 

Another ingrained problem that Fuller mentioned, and I have also seen, is that scientific and technical types are deeply naïve about politics and other real world factors.  Most American scientists and technical types work in some capacity for the war industry, and consequently have wholly swallowed their nationalistic and related indoctrination, unable to see beyond the tiny reality framework they were inculcated into. 

Fuller and others have written that weaponry and warfare have been the driving forces behind most technical innovation (he called it humanity’s “suicidal fixity” on the killing aspect of the efficiency and design revolution - Utopia, p. 203).  Fuller wrote that if humanity directed its efforts at creating “livingry” rather than weaponry, the scarcity paradigm could evaporate almost overnight.  However, we flirt with our self-destruction.  Fuller wrote that if the scarcity paradigm was not toppled by the late 1980s, humanity’s chances of survival were probably less than 50%.  He may be right, but it is never too late to begin trying.  Fuller stressed warfare as the factor that may destroy humanity, but it has competition today, with environmental collapse being a prominent competing factor.

Fuller noted that when college students became engaged in pondering and solving global problems, notions of nationalism and other group ideologies quickly faded into insignificance (much to the consternation of their elders, who could not shed their indoctrination), and the students all saw themselves as simply humans, or “Earthians” (Utopia, p. 248).  There is another step beyond that one, which Fuller’s work did not quite address, which is understandable for a man of his generation.

Fuller wrote that if abundance came to pass, humanity would no longer be concerned with survival, but self-realization.  Fuller wrote that two men could still fall in love with the same woman, and if an abundant humanity still had nuclear families, that would create some problems, but they would not be the kinds of problems that humanity faces today. 

This site could be accused of plagiarizing Fuller’s work, although we took independent and parallel paths, and he was from my grandparents’ era.  Fuller and I agree that energy is wealth (Utopia, p. 287), and is the root of the human journey.  I hope, for humanity’s sake, that Fuller’s brilliant, pioneering work is rescued from its obscurity, and soon.

[2] See Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers’s Order out of Chaos, David Bohm and David Peat’s Science, Order and Creativity, and James Gleick’s Chaos

[3] Because humans evolved in Africa, their fellow mammals also adapted to their presence.  Although there were African megafauna extinctions, they were more modest than elsewhere on Earth.  It is thought that the surviving African megafauna adapted to human predation because humans “grew up” around them, and learned to fear them.  They survived the rise of the human super-predator, and are about Earth’s only living examples of what kinds of mammals populated Earth before humans appeared. 

[4] See R. Buckminster Fuller’s Utopia or Oblivion, p. 6.

[5] For instance, Edward Herman is an economist who takes the “Chicago School” to task regularly in his work. 

[6] See, for instance, Noam Chomsky’s Necessary Illusions, and Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent

[7] See The Chomsky Reader, p. 45, or Noam Chomsky’s World Orders Old and New, p. 93, or his Necessary Illusions, pp. 2-3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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