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Cultures, Technology, and a Sustainable World View

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Title: Cultures, Technology, and a Sustainable World View


1
Cultures, Technology, and a Sustainable World View
Pete Kaslik
2
Overview of this Lecture
Why is a Math Teacher Talking About a Sustainable
World View?
A Brief History of Humanity
A Graphic Look at Humanitys Current Situation
The Good, the Bad and the Scary
Choosing a Goal For Humanity
How To Achieve the Goal
3
Why is a Math Teacher Talking About a Sustainable
World View?
  • When will I use this?
  • Not all math has authentic real world
    applications
  • Show, dont tell
  • Math 107 has liberal course outcomes
  • Theme-based vs diverse

4
Why is this Math Teacher Talking About a
Sustainable World View?
  • Increased understanding that my view of the world
    has been influenced by my culture, other people
    and things Ive read
  • I have wondered how many times experts were wrong
    about what they taught. So how much of what I
    now believe to be true is also wrong?
  • What if we could strip away all cultural
    influences and expert opinions and give as
    unbiased as possible assessment of the current
    state of the Earth?

5
A brief history of Humanity
This graph about "hominids refers to members of
the family of humans, Hominidae, which consists
of all species on our side of the last common
ancestor of humans and living apes.
http//www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/species.html
6
A Brief History of Humanity

Population Culture Technology
http//www.south-africa-tours-and-travel.com www.f
reewebs.com/msprzeklas/syllabus.htm http//seattle
place.com/images/Seattle_Skyline_Referral_Postcard
.jpg
/
7
Technology
  • Technology is the temporary state of matter as it
    transitions from being a resource to a useless
    element in a sink.

8
Feedback Loop
  • Population



  • Technological Development

9
Cultural Development
  • Thousands of cultures on this planet
  • Probably millions or billions if life exists on
    other planets
  • Most accept the culture into which they were born

10
Cultural Development
  • Other cultures are not a failed attempt at
    being us. They are a unique expression of what
    it means to be human and alive. (Wade Davis)

11
Other Cultural Ideas I Learned this Summer
  • From Dont Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel
    Everett A book about the Pirahã (pee-da-HAN)
  • Treat young children as adults
  • Dont understand war or suicide
  • Expect proof of claims
  • No creation myths or death myths
  • Non-materialistic
  • Do not seek revenge

12
Other Cultural Ideas I Learned this Summer
  • From Born to Run by Christopher McDougall A
    book about the Tarahumara (Raramuri)
  • Running is a cultural value
  • The sole means of competition
  • Runs of 30 to 100 miles in a day are common
  • Gentle people who run from trouble

13
My View of the Dominant Culture of Today
  • Individuals are more important than the community
  • Increasing individual and corporate wealth (and
    power) is the goal
  • Strive to be number 1
  • Technology is always better than non-technology

14
Cultural Transitions
  • Some cultures grew to become the dominant culture
    in a region or world
  • In spite of their population, cultural values and
    technology, all past dominant cultures are no
    longer dominant.
  • Can this happen to the US?
  • Can this happen to humanity?

15
Reasons for the Collapse of Former Great
Societies (from Collapse, by Jared Diamond)
  • Environmental collapse
  • Climate change
  • Hostile neighbors
  • Decreased support of friendly neighbors
  • Societys response to its problems

16
What if We Could Pick Our Cultural Ideas?
  • Shop at the Anthropology Super Mall
  • Each cultural idea would need a list of side
    effects
  • What would be the criteria for picking cultural
    values?

17
Judging Our Cultural World Views
  • By knowledge?
  • By technology?
  • By health and longevity?
  • By happiness?
  • By the length of time the culture has survived?

18
A Cultural Criterion
  • I propose we judge cultural world views by both
    their short term and the long term consequences
    to people, nature and the planet.
  • Short term immediate though 1 generation
  • Long term 1 to 1,000 generations

19
A Graphic Look at Humanities Current Situation
  • The Good
  • The Bad
  • The Scary

20
Quantitative Assessment of the World (QAW)
  • A mathematical (graphic) look at the short term
    consequences of the dominant cultures world view
    with implications for the long term consequences

21
Health and Wealth
  • Gapminder World

22
Knowledge
Scientific Papers Published Each Year
http//www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/10/the
_expansion_o.php
23
Technology
http//www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/10/the
_expansion_o.php
24
US Population Graph
25
World Population Graph
26
Gini Coefficient
http//www.visualeconomics.com/income-distribution
-by-country/
27
Gini Coefficient
http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient
28
Consequences of Wealth Disparity
Income Inequality and Homicides (r 0.47, p
0.02)
                                                
                                                  
  SOURCE U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income
Alternative Poverty Estimates in the United
States 2003, Report P60, n. 227, Tables B-1 and
B-3, pp. 18, 20.
29
Consequences of Wealth Disparity
Income Inequality and Social Mobility (r 0.93,
p lt 0.01)
http//www.globalissues.org/article/4/poverty-arou
nd-the-worldWorldBanksPovertyEstimatesRevised
30
National Debt
31
Health Care
http//ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php
32
Prison Population
33
Peak Oil in the US
34
Peak Oil in the World
35
Oil Discoveries
                                                
                                  Source
www.aspo-ireland.org
Source www.aspo-ireland.org
http//www.energybulletin.net/primer.php
36
Summary of Oil Production Status
  • Of the 65 largest oil producing countries, 54
    have passed their peak

37
Country Peak Prod. 2008 Prod. Off Peak Peak Year
United States 11297 7337 -35 1970
Venezuela 3754 2566 -32 1970
Libya 3357 1846 -45 1970
Kuwait 3339 2784 -17 1972
Iran 6060 4325 -29 1974
Indonesia 1685 1004 -41 1977
Iraq 3489 2423 -31 1979
United Kingdom 2909 1544 -47 1999
Norway 3418 2455 -28 2001
Mexico 3824 3157 -17 2004
Russian Federation 11484 9886 -14 1987
Saudi Arabia 11114 10846 -2 2005 / Growing
Nigeria 2580 2170 -16 2005
Canada 3320 3238 -2 2007 / Growing
Algeria 2016 1993 -1 2007 / Growing
China 3795 3795 - Growing
United Arab Emirates 2980 2980 - Growing
Brazil 1899 1899 - Growing
Angola 1875 1875 - Growing
Kazakhstan 1554 1554 - Growing
Qatar 1378 1378 - Growing
38
Non-Conventional Oil
http//thetyee.ca/News/2010/09/09/OilSandsWorld/
Tar Sands produce 82 more greenhouse gases than
conventional oil According to Cambridge Energy
Research Associates, the tar sands annually
consumes 20 percent of Canada's natural gas
demand.
http//thetyee.ca/Opinion/2010/08/30/MattSimmons/i
ndex.html
39
Driving Mileage
http//www.project.org/info.php?recordID443
40
Natural Gas
http//www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/11/27/61031/6
18
41
Coal
Appalachia Coal Peak in 1940
http//steveaustinlex.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/you
E28099ve-met-peak-oil-welcome-peak-coal/
42
World Peak Coal
  • Study Concludes Peak Coal Will Occur Close to
    2011
  • 2 August 2010
  • A multi-Hubbert analysis of coal production by
    Tadeusz Patzek at The University of Texas at
    Austin and Gregory Croft at the University of
    California, Berkeley concludes that the global
    peak of coal production from existing coalfields
    will occur close to the year 2011.
  • After 2011, the production rates of coal and CO2
    decline, reaching 1990 levels by the year 2037,
    and reaching 50 of the peak value in the year
    2047. It is unlikely that future mines will
    reverse the trend predicted in this
    business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, according to
    the study, which was published in the journal
    Energy.

http//www.greencarcongress.com/2010/08/peakcoal-2
0100802.html
43
Electric Energy Production Distribution of Sources
http//www.iea.org/Textbase/stats/pdf_graphs/USELE
C.pdf
44
EROEI
http//www.theoildrum.com/node/3786
45
Can we Solve the Energy Problem with Renewable
Energy?
  • In 1965, humanity produced 5 TeraWatts (1012
    Watts) of power.
  • In 2005, we produced 15 TeraWatts.

All Energy information provided by Saul Griffith
in a podcast from the Long Now Foundation. Saul
Griffith is an inventor and a 2007 MacArthur
Fellow
http//www.longnow.org/projects/seminars/SALT.xml
Friday, January 16, 2009, 40000 PM
podcast_at_longnow.org (The Long Now Foundation)
     Climate Change Recalculated
  podcast-2009-01-16-griffith.mp3
http//fora.tv/2009/01/16/Saul_Griffith_Climate_Ch
ange_Recalculated
46
A Potential Energy Portfolio
  • Currently Available
  • 3 TW from Fossil Fuels (to limit greenhouse
    gases)
  • 1 TW from Nuclear
  • 0.5 TW from Hydro
  • Need 11.5 more TW

47
A Potential Energy Portfolio
  • Build over the next 25 years
  • 2 TW photovoltaic
  • 2 TW Solar Thermal
  • 2 TW Wind
  • 2 TW Geothermal
  • 3 TW Nuclear
  • 0.5 Biofuels (so we can fly jets)

48
What is Needed to Achieve This?
  • Produce 100 square meters of photovoltaic cells
    every second for 25 years
  • Install 50 square meters of mirrors for solar
    thermal every second for 25 years
  • Build one 3-megawatt wind turbine (100 meter
    diameter) every 5 minutes for next 25 years

49
What is Needed to Achieve This?
  • Build a 3 gigawatt nuclear plant every week for
    the next 25 years (US has 8-10 planned for next
    decade).
  • Bring a 300 MW steam turbine on line (for
    geothermal) every day for the next 25 years.
  • For biofuels, fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool
    with genetically engineered algae every second
    for the next 25 years. This would be
    approximately like covering Wyoming with the
    algae.

50
An Effort Equivalent to Retooling for WWII
  • GM and Ford combined could make 1 wind turbine
    every 5 minutes
  • Nokia, Intel, AMD, Apple could produce the
    necessary photovoltaic cells
  • Coke and Pepsi in 10 years could make enough
    solar thermal mirrors using the aluminum that
    would be used for cans to produce 2 TW of power.
  • Necessary land area for all of this would be the
    7th largest country in the world (between
    Australia and India).

51
Nuclear Fusion
  • Combining nuclei of smaller atoms to make larger
    atoms, thereby releasing energy
  • This is what happens with stars
  • No radioactive or carbon waste
  • Potentially 20 or more years from being viable

52
Nuclear Fusion
The NIF Photon Science Principal Directorate is
one of five directorates at Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore,
California. The directorate operates the National
Ignition Facility (NIF), the worlds largest and
highestenergy laser, which has the goal of
achieving nuclear fusion and energy gain in the
laboratory for the first time in essence,
creating a miniature star on Earth.
                                                  
                       A technician inspects a
final optics assembly on the NIF target chamber.
53
Water Resources
http//webworld.unesco.org/water/ihp/db/shiklomano
v/part'3/HTML/Fi_21.html
54
2010
1950
Thousand Cubic Meters per year per capita
Fig. 28. Water availability by natural-economic
regions of the world 1950 - 2025.
55
Climate Change
http//www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/graphs-di
agrams-of-global-warming-and-climate.html
56
Ocean Acidification
Figure 1 Changes in Sea-Surface pH from
Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions (pre-industrial to
1990s) Note Lower pH indicates greater acidity
(see Box 1 Understanding the pH Scale)
                                                  
                                                  
                                                  
                                                  
                   Source Pacific Science
Association, 2007
http//earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/245
57
Plastic Pollution
September 4, 2009--Tangled with plastic, rope,
and various aquatic animals, a "ghost net" drifts
in August 2009 in the Eastern Pacific Garbage
Patch, a loose, free-floating "dump" twice the
size of Texas.
                                                                                                                                          
http//news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/ph
otogalleries/pacific-garbage-patch-pictures/index.
html
58
Marine Fisheries
59
Choosing A Goal For Humanity
  • Will humanity exist in 1 million years?
  • If so, how will we be different?
  • If not, is there anything we can change so we
    will survive?
  • For a universe that is billions of years old,
    billions of light years in diameter and that
    contains billions of galaxies with billions of
    planets and potentially billions of species, does
    it really matter if humans become extinct?

60
We are the Keystone Generation
61
We are the Keystone Generation
62
Choosing a Goal for Humanity
  • Without goals, people tend to roam aimlessly or
    make short sighted decisions
  • Group goals benefit from input from all group
    members
  • The Keystone Generation should begin a global
    grassroots discussion of what we think our
    descendants would appreciate in the future.

63
How to Achieve the Goal
  • Education
  • Solution to energy problem
  • Creation of a model of living that could be used
    by all humans for 1 million years
  • Sustainable world view
  • Sustainable technology
  • Development of new language

64
Education
  • Every college graduate should have an
    understanding of these issues, presented through
    various disciplines.
  • Education should include knowledge from
    pre-industrial cultures such as finding food and
    understanding the sky.
  • Systems Thinking

65
Systems Thinking
  • A system is an interconnected set of elements
    that is coherently organized in a way that
    achieves something.
  • Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems, A primer
  • Examples of systems
  • Colleges
  • Organisms
  • Biosphere

66
Systems Thinking
  • All choices a person makes should be viewed in
    context of the impact on
  • The individual
  • Family/friends
  • Strangers
  • Non-human life
  • Resources

67
Systems Thinking Example Should I buy a Cell
Phone?
  • Impact on me as an individual
  • I will be able to talk with my family and friends
    in a more convenient way
  • I will have an additional monthly expense. This
    requires more money, perhaps more hours of
    working.
  • I may become addicted to texting and constantly
    interrupt conversations with the person I am with
    to text with someone Im not with.
  • I may have health problems (cancer, brain tumor)
    from the microwave radiation that cell phones
    produce.

68
Systems Thinking Example Should I buy a Cell
Phone?
  • Impact on family and friends
  • It may be easier to stay in touch without seeing
    each other.
  • We may get less exercise because we call instead
    of walk to visit each other.
  • Communication usually includes facial
    expressions, which is missing when we use a phone
    or text.

69
Systems Thinking Example Should I buy a Cell
Phone?
  • Impact on all strangers
  • I may be contributing to corporate wealth and
    employment for people.
  • My choice of cell phones can help make one
    company survive and another fail.
  • I can report emergencies quicker, thereby helping
    people.
  • Manufacturing and transportation contributes to
    climate change.
  • I may cause an accident and hurt someone because
    of using a cell phone while driving (in spite of
    current law).

70
Systems Thinking Example Should I buy a Cell
Phone?
  • Impact on non-human life
  • We replace trees or vegetation with cell phone
    towers so I have better service.
  • All the radiation from cell towers may have an
    effect on birds, bees or other animals, but we
    arent sure.
  • Toxic chemicals from cell phones may poison the
    land, water and other life.
  • Mining operations destroy ecosystems.

71
Systems Thinking Example Should I buy a Cell
Phone?
  • Impact on resources
  • Cell phones are designed to last a year or two.
    Over 400,000 are retired every day in the US.
    They use petroleum and metals, both of which are
    not renewable. Small as each individual impact
    is, if resources are to last 1 million years, the
    small impacts add up.

72
Educating Students in the Classroom
  • Steilacoom Valley A way to make big numbers
    more manageable
  • Apply the concepts to the real world
  • Include issues as part of exam or essay questions

73
Solve Energy Problem
  • Knowledge about energy needs to be increased.
  • We need a Manhattan type project for creating
    fusion and expanding other renewable energy
    production.

74
Create a Model For Living That Could Last 1
Million Years
  • Adopt a sustainable world view
  • Embrace a way of living in the short term that
    can extend our non-renewable resources
  • Cultural shift toward small/childless families
    worldwide with the goal of reducing the world
    population
  • Adopt sustainable technology
  • Smaller homes
  • Less stuff
  • 100 of energy from renewable sources

75
Create a Model For Living That Could Last 1
Million years
  • What would living with a sustainable world view
    be like?
  • How much stuff would we need?
  • What would we do for work if we werent simply a
    consumer society?
  • What would we do with our time?
  • How much government would we really need?
  • How many problems would simply disappear if there
    was greater income equity?
  • How much less stress could there be?

76
Develop New Language
  • How does the language and things people discuss
    differ in places that live sustainably compared
    to those that dont?
  • Are we missing words in our language that would
    change the way we live? (Do words guide actions
    or do actions lead to words?)

77
Develop New Language
  • Example 1. a word or expression that indicates
    when a person has attained a sufficient state in
    life rather than being in either a deficient or
    surplus state, with the latter arising from the
    desire to always have more
  • Example 2. a word that merges individual and
    community

78
The Ultimate Question
  • Is our current way of living so sacred that we
    will not voluntarily exchange it for a lower
    impact lifestyle?

79
The Ultimate Challenges
  • Can we find a combination of culture and
    technology that will lead to a more just and
    sustainable world?
  • Can we extend our non-renewable energy resources
    until they can be replaced with nuclear fusion
    and other clean and renewable energy technology?
  • Can we decrease the population?

80
Summary
  • Our development as a species in the last 200
    years has been fueled by an unprecedented
    transfer of matter from resource to sink, thereby
    denying our descendants these resources.
  • I believe we have an obligation to make use of
    the knowledge we have gained because of this
    transfer to transition to a sustainable way of
    living, whatever form that takes.

81
Summary
  • There is a need for a global, grassroots
    discussion that can address these questions in a
    thoughtful way
  • What things in our modern world can we live
    without?
  • What things would we want all our descendants to
    be able to have?
  • How can we transition from a consumer society to
    a different type of society?
  • How can we reduce the size of the world
    population in a sane and just way?
  • How do our answers change if we have only 10
    years to make the changes voluntarily?
  • How can we cope with the changes that will come
    if we ignore the problems?

82
Summary
  • Finally, I believe this discussion needs to start
    immediately at the college level, and then spread
    into K-12.
  • Educators must challenge students to understand
    the magnitude of the situation and envision other
    ways of living. This could be lead by, but not
    limited to, instructors of anthropology and
    philosophy.
  • The Keystone Generation must become aware of the
    critical role they play in all of human history.

83
Acknowledgements
  • I would like to thank Jo Anne Geron for asking me
    to give this lecture. It gave me the opportunity
    to organize my thoughts in a meaningful way so
    that I could envision a strategy for improving
    life on this planet.
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