· There must be a great and noble object.
· Its achievement must be vital.
· The method of achievement must be active, aggressive.
· They must be convinced that the object can be attained, that it is not out of reach.
· They must see, too, that the organization to which they belong, and which is striving to attain the object, is an efficient one.
· They must have confidence in their leaders... [confidence in their leaders—permit me to emphasize].
· They must feel that they will get a fair deal...
· They must, as far as humanly possible, be given the best … equipment for the task.
· Their living and working conditions must be made as good as possible.”
“It was one thing thus neatly to marshal my principles, but quite another to develop them, apply them, and get them recognized...” Field Marshall Sir William Slim, Defeat into Victory, Four Square Book, p. 180.
This man was meditating how to turn a routed army into a triumphant one. His meditations apply just as well to Learner transformation.
Peace enforcement and disaster relief will provide many opportunities to rework the hardscape of battered cities, as well as the software of their governance.
The Shock Doctrine of disaster capitalism prescribes that these disasters serve to neutralize progressive initiatives and replace them with Victorian Era, “laissez-faire” financial piracy. Look where that has got us. This text suggests that they should serve to shift humanity in the direction of progress when they occur naturally. They should never be set up deliberately, the way shock doctrinaires often seek to do.
A planetary reconstruction program would relocate slum populations to idyllic settings for hundreds of thousands, or to arcology mega-structures housing tens of millions in what will seem like miraculous comfort, security and affluence. Beauty and order, jealously guarded by popular support, would take the place of the squalor, insecurity and criminality that prevails in today’s urban ghettos. These new townships will reduce urban footprints and discourage the use of private motor vehicles.
Nowadays, we shrug our shoulders. We have convinced ourselves that we can barely afford more slums and prisons, much less the urban paradises I foretell. The same goes for other peace technologies; all our systems of transport, education, justice and healthcare suffer from inadmissible neglect and decay. How often have we heard that there just isn’t enough money to pay for adequate public services? Yet in wartime, there’s always enough money. Hang the expense!
Warfare economies demand lavish financial support for nonproductive personnel and equipment. A reduced tax base must support enormous public expenditures for indefinite periods of time. This wartime spending is so prodigious, a few months of the same thing during peacetime would incite the average economist to solemnly declare national bankruptcy. Yet such wars go on for decades, reducing the economies of entire countries to Stone Age primitivism. That is, until military defeat flattens the loser’s last money press and bank vault. Of course, those are the first things the invaders will refurbish.
Actually, we cannot afford to degrade the quality of life any further. Cost-cuts in peace management merely generate more frustration, mayhem and secondary expense. In the past, these merciless “savings” were diverted to finance weapon technology. Such anti-profit “austerity programs” are suicidal in the long run: precious savings handed over to ruined and ruinous banks. This claim has been confirmed by the financial collapse of 2008, sporadic equivalents before and serial disasters soon to come (economic, social and environmental).
A few straightforward cosmetics could induce dramatic improvements for our cities.
· Fountains and Parks. Along with restoring aquifers and purifying waterways, a new art form of urban park and courtyard garden design will emerge.
· Free pedestrian amenities: benches, trash cans, fountains and walk-in toilets should spring up everywhere in town, unlike current practice.
· Litter disposal. Any indigent person could supplement their minimum wage by collecting urban litter, bringing it to nearby collection stations and “selling” it to municipal employees. Littering should become a heavily fined misdemeanor and a public disgrace. It might be feasible to train urban rodents and birds to do this work. It is ironic to think that trained rats might become more helpful to urban communities than litterers (self-confessed sociopaths of a mediocre sort).
· The magnificent artwork of skilled architects and craftspeople will replace the cheap steel and concrete boxes and urban glass piles we have grown accustomed to. At first, these will imitate the works of Louis Henry Sullivan, Antoni Gaudi and Luigi Colanni; then they will evolve into beautiful designs of their own.
· Cities, great and small, will come to resemble Paolo Soleri’s arcology; rural villages will be built on the model of Nader Khalili's Domes of Rumi.
· We should take into account Frank Lloyd Wright’s advice to bad architects: wrap concrete structures in extensive plantings of trees and vines. Concrete and steel are splendid fortification materials, but not so good for habitat construction given current cladding technologies. It turns out that plantings are excellent heat and noise regulators: the things we need most yet seem unable to adapt to our needs.
· The twenty-foot rule: according to the best practice of Canadian urban design, the first twenty feet at the base of every building should be set up as an optimal setting for pedestrians. Inviting shops, courtyards, arcades and other amenities should line every sidewalk on a comfortably human scale. Above those twenty feet, architects and developers may do as they please to meet urban zoning and cost-cutting requirements.
Baron Haussmann demolished thousands of tenements to build the Grands Boulevards of Paris. Besides unclogging Parisian streets and thus the cerebral arteries of the French body politic, his work leveled many squalid, labyrinthine and rebellious slums. Haussmann fulfilled his weapons obligation by establishing boulevards wide enough for cavalry to charge the mob and straight enough over long distances to allow government artillery to pulverize insurgent barricades.
In 1871, thousands of French progressives were executed for trying to defend Paris against victorious Prussian militarists and their re-armed French prisoners of war led by vengeance-crazed French reactionaries.
Battles and natural disasters have always resulted in massive urban destruction; they will no doubt continue to do so. Following on their heels, however, Learners will discard wasteful zoning practices and rebuild urban hardscapes for optimal efficiency.
For example, the unwise habit of segregating residential, light industrial and commercial neighborhoods may cease. Most Americans could live, shop and work in the same neighborhood. This zoning revision would rule out ridiculous automotive commutes, reduce rental and utility overheads, bring somnolent neighborhoods back to life and make pollution, slum housing and other urban pathologies more conspicuous and less profitable.
Many more pedestrian amenities will spring up. Public gardens, fountains, arcades and billions of new urban trees will replace the triple monstrosities of urban vehicular traffic, commercial signage and “public” art as currently conceived.
New regulations will mandate that an urban tree be planted for every advertising sign and every few parking spaces. Anyone felling a tree in a built-up area will pay a fine for the deed, the proceeds going to replant more trees nearby. One way or another, fifty percent of urban surface areas should be surrendered to trees—future Learners will consider this allocation laughably inadequate.
During Europe’s Darkest Age, the Dar-al-Islam reached its zenith of glory. This came to pass largely because able Muslims promoted the ablest non-Muslims. This was Islam’s first Golden Age, also that for Sephardic Jews. Together, wise Arabs, Persians and others; Muslims, Jews, Christians and others, preserved what little remained of civilization; together, they added glorious new increments of wisdom and beauty. Around 820 CE, the House of Wisdom was established in Baghdad to collect, translate and improve on ancient texts. Learners should imitate and improve on that Convivencia; learn how to live in harmony.
Despite their concerted efforts, the need to pay for growing armies crippled this broad-minded approach. A resurgence of militant fundamentalism laid waste what little good had been retained from Mongol devastation. Neighboring provinces retained an army just as large and costly. Those troops wound up turning against their own people and their administration, to sustain themselves in the short term, which upheaval aggravated the devastation. It provoked such a crisis in the Islamic world that foreign imperialists overcame Muslim self-rule for centuries.
The same thing happened in China. Just like it these days, Islam is due for a second Golden Age, in large part because of its rejection of terrorism in favor of a Jihad for Peace. Just as much can be expected from every world religion. In the near future, the major creeds will sponsor a peaceful flowering of civilization—once they’ve recovered their sensibility like hats swept away by a windstorm. It looks like Pope Francis is leading the way.
This was also the Golden Age of the Muslim garden, complete with canals, tanks, fountains, pools and lakes; inner-facing courtyards and outward-looking parks; flowers, shrubs and trees for shade, scent and fruit; habitats for birds and beasts, wild and tame. Muslims reserved these sites of domestic tranquility for private meditation. In their ordinarily crowded circumstances, privacy and quiet contemplation were beyond their reach.
Our word “paradise” comes from the Persian term for a garden. The Koran (Qran) describes heaven as tree-shaded parkland under which a cool river flows. The Bible’s ideal human habitat is the Garden of Eden.
Every mature civilization has treasured its parks and gardens; every Golden Age has presented them to show off its elegance, wisdom and grace. We, who busy ourselves poisoning the world and disown that tendency, should take a page from the Arabs who escaped the desert into their gardens. They, at least, had no choice. Since we’ve opted to mass-produce desert by dismantling the natural world, we should turn all our public and private spaces into scale models of Eden.
We should stop harassing indigents and install luxury pedestrian amenities. Without exception, legitimate churches will respond to the needs of the poor as their first priority. God favors a dignified provision of the poor. In the Qran, this was the only lawful reason to tax the faithful. Once again, it looks like Pope Francis is leading the way.
Pedestrian areas should be made more inviting and enjoyable, not less so. American elites shame themselves by tolerating litter everywhere; by neglecting public fountains, toilets, park benches and other pedestrian amenities for the passerby; and by displaying inexplicable incompetence at public signage. American cities are strewn with misplaced and torn-down street signs, puzzling directional signage and buildings lacking street numbers. What signage lines the highway is so poorly designed and sited that it can only serve as a memory enhancer for people who’ve already found their way by trial and error. Answering the call for more complicated traffic laws that supplement metropolitan revenues with additional traffic tickets and fines, urban street signage is plastered with long essays instead of a few clear ideograms, making it harder to understand and obey before traffic cameras play gotcha with disoriented drivers. This – despite the fact or because of it – that signage design has become a graduate degree program in American colleges. Like most modern administrative practices, they have “innovated, standardized and optimized” themselves beyond practical usefulness for anyone but special interests.
Anything we permit to be less than magnificent just accustoms us to spirit-death in the inner cities and our inner life. It promotes a prison-block siege mentality ripe for weapons exploitation. Urban habitability is degraded in order to chase the poor off our streets—a sorry habit that worsens the lot of every passerby. More and more prevalent these days, downtowns only fit for a handful of millionaires and homeless people, with a daily tide of suburban salaried commuters that disappears at sunset.
In the future, city centers will house millions of urban inhabitants who will work at home; agglomerations of office towers will become virtual and disappear with the exception of about a floor out of twenty housing floors dedicated to the provision of office space.
Motor roads will gird acres of motor-free urban parkland. American college campuses operate quite well this way. The best college campuses imitate the ergonomics of a Renaissance city. Equipped with comprehensive mass transit, modern plumbing, optical cable and power, these new campuses provide ideal layouts for future Learner achievement.
Only pedestrians, animals, bicycles and rare service vehicles would be allowed within these zones otherwise off-limits to autos. Greenbelts will extend the length and breadth of future cities, providing excellent right-of-ways for bicycles and pedestrians. They’ll serve as runways for public transit vehicles, whether underground, on the surface or LTA.
Bicycles are very efficient modes of transportation; they will be taken up wherever autos are forbidden. Those modes of transport should not be mixed. Otherwise, as happens today, common steel crushes the finest bone as mediocre car drivers run down laudable bicyclists. Instead, in built-up areas, cantilevered bicycle/pedestrian arterials will bridge auto-road networks. At other intersections, pedestrians and bicycles will gain right of way over cars, the same way sailboats claim priority over motor vessels on the high seas.
Modern combatants are expected to drive and maintain military vehicles. All-consuming industrial cartels spawn the huge vehicle fleets that mechanized armies require. The average civilian has to maintain a private vehicle, both to keep in practice and to subsidize giant automotive piecework, assembly and maintenance complexes. Once war erupts, it would take too long to train novice mechanics, build new factories from scratch, and grow the sickly corporate hierarchies needed to run them, the way Stalin did.
The replacement of private vehicles by omnipresent public transit offers obvious peace advantages. By public transit, I don’t mean a fleet of ugly, stinking, roaring poisonous, decrepit, crowded, clumsy, untimely, uncomfortable and crime-ridden busses that force commuters to share each other’s social and hygiene failures. Bus fleets pick them up and drop them off in mini-garbage dumps; fleets that deafen them both inside and outside the vehicle; that paint them with carcinogenic, immune-suppressing and spirit-crushing diesel stink every hour of the day. No new automobile could be sold if it deafened its occupants the way current busses do, if it stank half as bad and were half as uncomfortable.
Picture instead a continuous capillary flow of private but subsidized jitneys and microbuses powered by quiet, non-polluting engines. This stream would feed arteries of mixed transit including articulated busses, monorails, light rail, walk-on ferries and lighter-than-air commuter transports. Door-to-door service at a fraction of current costs, spiced with hygienic walkabouts through pleasant neighborhoods.
A dollar spent on mass transit generates more jobs than the same dollar spent on private automobiles, more so than one spent on military highways and many more than on weapons … So what are we waiting for?
In due course, cars will be confined to interurban highways, suburban park-and-ride facilities, highrise and underground garages—then to recycling plants. Horses and mules will stage comebacks in the countryside, as will camels in arid climes and dromedaries, llama and alpaca in mountainous regions. A whole new industry of wheeled carriages and agricultural machinery will emerge. Good use will be made of new draught animals (with machines in their train collecting and burning dung as fuel, for example); solar electric power; high-strength, low weight polymers; and near-perfectly frictionless, space-manufactured moving parts.
Consumers will witness another cultural evolution. Learners will favor the repair of high-quality equipment over its cheap replacement. In the future, very high quality, simplicity and sturdiness will be the ultimate intention of design, as will longevity, dependability and ease of repair. Those not handcrafted locally will be dropped to the surface from orbital factories with almost free delivery charges. Lengthy technical apprenticeships will reappear along with master craftsmanship.
Incompetent administrators will disappear as political terms are reduced and wary amateurs assume their responsibilities. Unrelenting public overwatch will become a major spectator sport; behind-the-scenes political activities will come under intense public scrutiny. Political secrets will attract the attention of aggressive investigators—the same way today’s camera-laden paparazzi pursue reclusive media stars.
Small family stores, shops and coops will flourish once again, at the expense of corporate chains boycotted. Pollution problems will shrink as automobiles are relegated to bulk transport and emergency services, and as new conservation technologies reduce energy demands. General health will improve with more exercise. Automotive pollution will disappear and environmental health will recover synergistically.
Nowadays, we obtain a whole range of laborsaving household devices and then expensive exercise machines. This combination is profitable for the few but a great waste of time and money for us common folk. Instead, people will get back on their feet and walk. Perhaps they – and especially their tireless children – will visit exercise stations where their aerobic efforts improve their health, generate a little electricity and earn them pocket change—the way today’s indigents can earn a few bucks for their blood.
The protagonists of Secrets of the Soil: New Age Solutions for Restoring our Planet, Harper Collins & Row, 1989, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, (who co-authored The Secret Life of Plants), provide interesting cases of future cottage industries that specialize in organic soil restoration. Animal and vegetable manures, microbial, insect, fungus and plant symbiotic mixtures will substitute for synthetic fertilizers and toxic “pest control” agents that add together to jeopardize the biosphere. Net increases in soil depth through such microbiological ministrations will outstrip global soil depletion that industrial agriculture has induced with its chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The practice of industrial terra preta (biochar, agrichar) may bring about two vital outcomes:
· millions of tons per year of biocharcoal to serve as high-carbon fertilizer for depleted soils; and
· the systematic reduction of humanity’s CO2 production and of its global warming.
Factories will be installed at the mouth of great rivers to harvest chemical fertilizers and other toxic ingredients before they flow out to sea. Future farmers will exploit sea-floor soil mining, of composting, crop rotation, reforestation and accelerated aging of artificial ponds and lakes.guidance will regulate genetic architecture. Learners will dismantle outrageous industrial cartels that:
· factory-farm neomutant, cannibalistic pseudo-food beasts saturated with antibiotics;
· raise industrial crops loaded with gene-engineered toxins;
· peddle mountains of pesticides that sterilize the soil, along with surplus chemical and animal manures that eutrophy waterways; and
· commit agricultural strip-mining in general.
Organic pest controls and fertility enhancers will replace these hydra-headed monsters. Food animals will be tailored for strength and health; they’ll no longer be enfeebled to increase their dependence on corporate pharmaceuticals. Their digestive tracts will be tailored to digest re-architected versions of prolific native weeds. In this manner, their oft-contaminated feed supplements may be eliminated.
Learners will ban engineered cannibalism altogether. In many instances, reprocessed flesh has been fed to penned livestock, poultry and fish stocks, relying on physiological disparities between species to prevent cross-infections between the eater and the eaten. Yet it is still the likeliest route of vicious cross-infections and prion pandemics. Attempts to raise domestic animals as factory herds in static lots will be curtailed along with other factory farming abuses.
Or else humanity will soon adopt universal vegetarianism or mere selective insectivorism and existential nausea at the idea of ingesting beasts that bleed and suffer the same way it does. Our descendants may well think of us, primitive carnivores by choice, as monsters of cruelty and monstrous spendthrifts.
Learners will develop high-protein, high vitamin foods based on microorganisms like Chlorella, Wolffia and Spirulina. The advanced cultivation of microorganisms, insects and aquaculture fish will replace domesticated livestock and marine fisheries: archaic industries whose luxury products will be consigned to rare, ritual consumption. Instead of spoiling half the world harvest every year, cultivated pests could supply half our foodstuffs and reduce our dependence on farm acreage.
Every town will have at least one large structure (several, to ensure redundancy during emergencies) in which enough insects, bacteria and algae would be raised to provide the city’s inhabitants with their basic daily nutritional requirements. These harvests may proliferate in urban settings and elsewhere, once provided with sufficient quantities of clean water and sunlight. Those urban factories might reduce the farm acreage required to support city populations, perhaps by several times; they might also serve as heat pumps and water purification plants.
Today’s cardboard-flavored soy burgers and mushy “hand-cut” fries will evolve into nutritious gourmet items with the mouthwatering crunch and delicate savor of golden crisp french fries and top-grade hamburgers cooked medium rare, exceeding their nutritional content and eliminating toxic ingredients. Of course, other flavors and mouth feels will be perfected.
Splendid foodstuffs can be grown in the desert: cholla buds, chia seeds, tepary beans, pads of prickly pear cactus and flour made from mesquite pods. These items are among the healthiest foods on Earth. The Tohona O’dham tribe of Tucson, Arizona specializes in growing these kinds of crops.
The Mongongo nut tree (Ricinodendron Rautanenii or Euphorbiaceae Schinziophyton) is a drought-resistant plant that provides abundant nutrition to hunter-gatherers in Africa. A given weight of its nuts offers twice as much protein as steak and five times as many calories as rice.
The Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) is a tree with many medicinal and nutritious attributes. Its seeds bear 30% cooking oil and the remaining seedcake can serve as a flocculent to purify water. Its seedpods are called drumsticks and prepared like pea pods; its seeds and flowers are edible; its leaves are said to contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas. It is drought resistant, grows on almost every continent and restores fertility to poor soils. But it can’t tolerate freezing or frost. In that case, grow industrial lots of it under greenhouse glass.
Other desert desserts may replace the over-processed flour, toxin-laced fat, diabetes-inducing sugar and even more toxic sugar substitutes with which we dose ourselves these days.
In 2008, Carl Hodges grew a crop of Salicornia (sea asparagus) and other halophytes (salt-loving plants) by irrigating desert crop fields using seawater from the Sea of Cortez. Salicornia can be eaten steamed or fresh, squeezed for cooking oil and ground into high-protein flour. Let’s hope it tastes good.
An Israeli researcher discovered that regular crops can be drip-irrigated with salt water, provided that their root beds are never allowed to dry. Tremendous stretches of desert could be covered with salt-tolerant ground cover, edible or otherwise.
As for hemp, there are 101 uses for it as a food item, medicine, article of toiletry and industrial component: http://www.recipenet.org/health/articles/101_uses_hemp_chart.htm Its criminalization, just because it happens to be one of the finest psychotropic drugs in history, is a crime against humanity.
Genetic architecture and economies of scale promise to accelerate the development of algal food technologies. By genetic architecture, I do not mean trial and error manipulations of genetic material to satisfy corporate specifications for absurd offspring: flat-bottomed, tasteless, always red tomatoes; herbicide-resistant weeds; etc. Rather, as part of a mystical transformation of human awareness, the(spirit architects of biological organisms) will teach the most useful details of biomimicry to dedicated teams of genetic architects, biologists, ethnobotanists and shamans. Working together, they’ll show us how best to serve Gaia and Learner populations.
Buffalo, wildebeest, deer and antelope will graze vast regions returned to wildlife ecology, along with their natural predators. This natural combination of beasts is most likely to knead the soil into maximum productivity. Spirit-reverent nomad hunter-gatherers may reclaim their ancestral homelands.
In the past, pastoral nomads menaced the sedentary farmer. The former had to prove, anywhere, any time and anyhow, that they could defend their herds and their honor; the latter, that they could cooperate with their neighbors. With but a few exceptions, this made for victims and aggressors. All three face annihilation at the hands of industrial weapon technicians. On the other hand, peace technicians will welcome such cultural offshoots as self-sufficient recreational communities. After all, hunter-gathering, nomadic herding and freehold farming have been natural human lifestyles quite awhile. Habitats along these lines could become “tourist attractions” for any urbanite so inclined.
Have you become an obese, sluggish city rat, a little like me? Take up the hard life of a deep-forest hunter-gatherer for six months. Come back in a lot better shape, your spirit revived and skewed priorities redefined—or don’t come back at all. Survival will be tough out there.
As a priority, coastlines, riverfronts, latitude and altitude growth boundaries will be re-edenized. As a new form of worship and sinkhole for new, surplus wealth, Learners will cultivate climax ecology biohabitats for their aesthetic, ecological, climatic and spiritual benefits, much more than for mere profit—even though they may prove much more profitable in the long run.
Commercial fishing enthusiasts have promised unlimited tonnages of seafood into the distant future, even though the sea has become a problematic source of sustenance—more so every day. Such diverse authorities as J.E. Lovelock, the author of The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth, Bantam Books, New York, 1990; Elisabet Sahtouris, the author of Gaia, Pocket Books, New York, 1989; and Lynn Margulis have warned us against unlimited commercial fishing. They have argued that land-bound ecocide may destroy humanity but not all life. Earth’s primal life force won’t go into serious death spasms until algae-moderated oceanic heat, salinity and carbon dioxide regimes undergo a serious imbalance.
Human encroachment is threatening to do just that. Marine ecologies undergo sewage-and-fertilizer-induced oxygen depletion (eutrophication), toxin dumping, frenetic over-fishing, greenhouse ice-melt cooling and oil spills: especially countless minor spills and ship ballast releases. Compared to them, dramatic supertanker disasters are surprisingly less significant. Red and black tides are further symptoms of this accelerating decay, whose impact corporate media fall over themselves to trivialize. Catastrophic oil spills and methane releases are becoming more and more widespread.
Factory-ships rake the ocean floor with four-meter (eleven-foot wide) beam trawls. These huge armored dredge nets annihilate biota and their habitats indiscriminately; they leave a muddy desert in their wake, heedless of ocean depth and ecological stability. Such cold, dark and fragile ecologies will take decades or longer to recover, assuming they ever do so before human civilization disappears.
This is the way to trigger a new age of piracy on the Somali coast and elsewhere, using corporate factory trawlers burning government subsidized fuel to empty the nets of local fishermen across the world’s oceans for years to come.
Other industrial fishermen have cast so many mile-long, forty-foot deep drift nets that they encircle the Earth a couple times a year. These imperishable nylon nets are often lost at sea and turn into “ghost nets.” The death-throes of their initial victims attract many more and kill them fruitlessly for years on end.
That lovely fish filet on your dinner plate represents uncounted pounds of sea life ripped from the sea and gone to waste.
It is scary to contemplate capitalist enterprise rolling up its sleeves, spitting into its hands and wading out into the ocean deep to reap raw profit. We should withdraw it from the oceans for a few decades, if only to let them recover. Failing that, reduce its impact on the sea in other significant ways. This exclusion would not be too difficult, since long-distance fishing requires massive government subsidies to pay for its fuel bills.
Learners will establish thousands of Maritime Parks (starting with the Great Barrier Reef currently moribund), including the most fertile and damaged stretches of the sea. Often, regrettably, they are the same. Protective legislation will accelerate natural recovery by means of draconian fisheries management, toxic cleanup, runoff regulation and biological reinforcement. Surplus submarines will monitor commercial fishing and pollution dumping. Vessels abusing such activities should be monitored and overtaken by obsolete nuclear submarines, then confiscated, stripped down and sunk with great fanfare to form artificial reefs.
We may achieve a better understanding of oceanic currents, and mine the sea bottom – not only for magnesium nodules and suchlike trash, but for sea bottom nutrients. Future technologies as-yet-unknown may allow us to raise cold, abyssal waters full of nutrients to the ocean’s surface. This would create artificial reef effects as bountiful as natural cold-water currents.
I foresee underwater power plants whose waste heat would raise these cold currents to coastal surfaces, uplift untold amounts of submarine nutrients and thus explode fish populations while accelerating and fine-tuning the climate-stabilizing properties of underwater currents. We would have to find new sites for these projects that would interfere with neither the natural fisheries described below nor with the major oceanic currents.
Such currents rise to 0.1 percent of the ocean surface, just off the coasts of Peru, California and Africa (Mauritania, Namibia and Somalia). Another significant fishery is the Kildinbaken fishing ground in the Barents Sea. These tiny fisheries produce half the world’s fish harvest per Brian Fagan’s Floods, Famines and Emperors: El Niño and the Fate of Civilizations, Basic Books, New York, 1999, p. 31. All of them should become Marine Sanctuaries. Eventually, they we can be restocked with fully mature species both enormous and plentiful.
Even more significantly, we should engage in the equivalent a new planetary Manhattan Project to develop photosynthetic capabilities in human skin and free us from our need to kill to feed. The details of this technology exhaust my imagination, as do its long-term consequences. Nancy Kress’ elitist science fiction novel, Beggars and Choosers has scooped me on this topic..
Clever real estate magnates have discovered that sound ecological investments generate enormous profits. In Alexandria, Virginia, my father spent his last few years protecting the suburban landscape from cost-cutting developers. In such lucky communities, real-estate revenues have skyrocketed through loving attention to environmental detail. In general, I despise most developers: serial eradicators of forest cover for profit: they wind up being worse than invasive, tree-eating insect pests.
A few industrialists slightly less stupid have spun off superior production and quality control methods by going green, as well as superb advertising opportunities. But most of them have paid mere lip service to their stewardship responsibilities. Like the econologicians they must have studied in school, they have abandoned sustainability in practice—to their ultimate disgrace.
The impulsive rage the business community displays towards each new environmental and labor challenge resembles the frustrated temper tantrums of a spoiled child. The merchant community can’t afford this spoiled-brat attitude much longer. Scrupulous attention to ecology and human rights is going to become just another business expense, less negotiable than outlays on plant, payroll and marketing. In the long run, such expenditures will be far more profitable than warfare taxes.
New regulations will prevent potential polluters and their patrons from doing business unless they move with their families to the site of their potential disaster. Local administrations will share power with their constituencies. Slumlords, bank and insurance executives, supervisors of police, judiciary and municipal services; all of them will need to revise their routines to retain their jobs. These officials will relocate with their families into the least well-run neighborhood in their care. The children of the rich may not attend the school of their choosing until per capita funding has been equalized for every schoolchild in that bioregion.
In The Earth in the Balance, Vice President Al Gore suggests that the world’s bookkeepers enter environmental impacts and resource exhaustion in their Depreciation column. First World banks could credit Third World countries for parkland set asides and renounced high-pollution technologies. They would shelve power plants that burned sulfurous coal, for example, and massive slash-and-burn land grabs. Said credits could finance state-of-the-art, low-pollution technologies of native design.
I got some free advice quite a while ago. If just one penny a day had been invested in my name since the day I was born, this account would have allowed me to live my adult life in comfort off the interest. Well, since its infancy, humanity has bled off at least a third of its income – every day of every year – into weapons activities and their peripheral wastage. No wonder we can’t afford peace improvements!
In truth, we will easily be able to afford everything we need for PeaceWorld. We cannot afford anything less, since poverty is by far the most expensive social policy.
Get used to that, at least.