Saturday, December 12, 2015
Past To Present
FOR MILLENIA, IN MYRIAD CULTURES, COSMOS was powerful and the ultimate landscape that contained the sources of life itself—the Sun, Sol/Surya/Ra...—and human life [where the gods dwelled and continued to direct human life. This cosmos was essentially a ceiling of starlight with Earth at its center.
At an important turning point, the photon and the measurement of its speed suddenly moved all of the stars away from the Earth at incredible distances. For the illuminati or high culture of that era, cosmos became a deep field of stars.
And again, with the discovery that some of the blurs of light were dense clusters of billions of stars, cosmos became a deep field of galaxies that seemed only limited by the quality of our measures to see them. The blur across the night sky was recognized to be a view through the galaxy in which Sol was positioned in the outer reach of an arm of this spiral galaxy.
And quickly, it was recognized that these galaxies were moving outward, expanding the universe that was synonymous with cosmos. Gradually, a sense of space as being empty was completely turned over in favor of a sense of space as having form and energy and inseparability from matter. And soon, it was recognized that the speed of this expansion was accelerating, and that this expansion was likely due to the influence of dark energy that was present everywhere and that comprised ninety percent of the content of the universe.
The nature of cosmos has dramatically changed from a ceiling to a universe of expanding galaxies with cosmological speculation of multiverses that interact. An understanding of the nature of dark matter is considered to be an important step in taking the next quantum leap. If anything is “known,” it is that human understanding of the nature of cosmos will continue to make astonishing quantum leaps. The once vast, uninhabited landscapes of Earth—forests, deserts, oceans—were long-viewed as wastelands needing human use to activate them. Now, there are recognized as active, complex ecosystems.
Human Conceptions Beyond Earth:
Ceiling of Stars
Mega-verse, from Symmetry & Familiarity
RESOLUTION OF THE PREDOMINANT questions of the moment, such as the nature of dark matter, will not be blocked by the limits of our measures. We will likely soon discover particle remnants of dark energy as we increase the energy of our particle accelerators. This may appear to reveal the structure of dark matter but it will not fully recognize its real nature. As in the past, the problem will be the smallness of our model of the universe/cosmos.
The present model of the universe has measured a beginning point—the Big Bang—and the acceleration of the space occupied by the accelerating matter and energy form. And when we explore questions as to galactic life cycles, galactic evolution, and the end or continuance of the universe, we approach these questions from the perspective that influences will come from within since everything began with the Big Bang. We would approach the question for the increasing acceleration of the initial Big Bang, which, like any explosion or like water rings moving out from a drop of water, should be decreasing given our present understanding. Such a perspective may be akin to resolving questions from the perspective of approaching the cosmos as a ceiling or as a gathering of stars.
A new view: The Big Bang is a “blossoming” of energy within a much larger mega-universe. Just as we abruptly approached astro-ecology from the perspective of the ceiling and then from a community of stars and then from a collection of galaxies, we now approach the question from a larger perspective that may cause acceleration and flow of galaxies and open us to other phenomena. In this mega universe, there would be other blossomings of energy, with each blossom being the equivalent of our present day universe. The interaction of vast forces, well beyond the dimensions of our present sense of the universe, could provoke bursts of energy such as a Big Bang.
In this mega-universe, dark matter would be present in various densities. Imagine dark matter as having something akin to a ocean or liquid form, a more solid mass form and a gaseous [atmosphere/deep space] form. In the deep density of the ocean-like dark matter form, the energy or nutrient upwelling would produce luminous blooms or Big Bang bursts of universes. The acceleration of the bloom would be determined by the “flow” of this ocean-like dark matter. And there might be events in this deep density of the depths of fluid and solid dark matter that would be astonishingly different than anything like stars and galaxies.
This model has symmetry and familiarity with the dynamics of Earth process [with Earth as a dimension of the lifespan of a star] that is determined by the lifespan of a galaxy.
In summary, we always challenge the current model of the universe as restricted. Then, with this larger context, we can see, for example, why galaxies would be accelerating. And we would see other events that we have not yet described, such as the wavy, rather than straight-lined, “flight” of galaxies.
And so how to see this field that is beyond our measures, when we cannot see the beginning of the Big Bang or the edge of the galactic universe? We already do this. Einstein/Hawking/Crick& Watson, et al.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
FROM PREHISTORY through the contemporary (and clearly, into the future), human life and nature have never been apart. Further, human life has/can enhance wildness and bio-diversity.
[See earlier post, “Reconciliation Ecology, 1/21/2011]
RECOMMENDATION: 2015 PBS Series Earth A New Wild
The 2015 PBS series hosted by Dr. M. Sanjayan Earth A New Wild illustrates this well. It challenges the assumption that human use of the Earth diminishes wildness and bio-diversity. It illustrates how human activity can enhance these processes.
This is not to say that human activity cannot diminish bio-diversity. Clear-cutting of forests would be such an example.
A large part of the environmental problem is our erroneous sense of having become separate from wildness.
The key here is seeing how being inside landscape can mean the optimization of bio-diversity as well as the fittedness of human life into the larger Earth ecosystem.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Lance Kinseth, Self as Landscape, 48”x60, 2015
IN THE GREAT WORK, theologian Thomas Berry suggests that the task for the 21st century involves the integration of human life into the larger Earth ecosystem. However, contemporary human life seems to be moving further away from nature. Since 2000, the majority of people inhabit cities and this is anticipated to increase to 70% by 2050. Berry suggests that this task will require the intensity of a renaissance because of the way that it will alter our fundamental understanding of human nature.
Berry’s task begins to seem possible because urbanization is driving ecologically adaptive features. Remarkably, for example, global urbanization is unintentionally reducing the rate of global population growth to a degree which decades of intentional environmental activism have not been able to accomplish. Because of the rate of reduction, there is even the guarded possibility that the global population might be lower at the end of the century than it was in 2001 (W. Lutz et al, The end of world population growth. Nature, Vol. 412, No. 6846, 543-545).
Global urbanization continues to diminish the health of both uninhabited and settled landscapes. While we may desire to focus environmental efforts on improving unsettled landscapes, successes will be Pyrrhic victories at best if we fail to address urbanization as the primary locus for intervention for the integration of human life into the Earth ecosystem. And the good news is that urbanization contains a naturalness that we did not expect. There is a “living city” operant in the ecologically destructive separable city.
In Finite And Infinite Games, James Carse would approach the city as a natural “infinite” system rather than as a “finite” machine, because a city is effusive and has no end. The eco-barrier to be overcome is the design strategy rather than the city-form—a finite “hard grid” machine model that envisions separation from nature and continues to extract resources for consumption. The reality is more one of an infinite soft, creative process that is so participatory as to be almost beyond design and capable of creating resources rather than only consuming resources.
If the city is viewed as the antithesis of nature, intentional urban planning and design corrects mal-adapted “artificial” modern life. If the city is viewed as natural and “living,” design identifies outstanding adaptive ecological features and optimizes them. What is especially noteworthy here for design is that the ecological adaptability of the post-modern city has already begun and does not have to be invented. Design for an ecological “living city” would be quite different from either a now-popular strategy of a “livable city” or a “sustainable city” which have been the first steps in changing the “separable city.” Rather than invention, the design task becomes one of listening and then optimizing existing ecologically adaptive features.
When we begin to look differently, perhaps searching for a crazy oxymoron such as “human wildness,” astonishingly, ecological adaptive features of urbanization begin to be seen. These include actions and large design elements, such as an astonishing reduction in the rate of global population growth, freeing up landscape by increasing people-friendly population density, shift to residency with its inherent interest in sustainability, resource efficiency due to density and public health even in urban poverty, enhanced intra-urban nonhuman habitat, eco-centered resource production rather than only consumption, primary support for environmental research, and specialization/innovation.
Thomas Berry’s ecological renaissance begins with our eco-literacy still in its infancy. Say “nature,” and we glance out the window to find it rather than imagine oneself within nature. A renaissance occurs broadly rather than as a specific social movement. A “renaissance,” such as the Italian Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution is easily a century long process, and it tends to begin quite obscurely—as was visually demonstrated in the Italian Renaissance, beginning vaguely with artists such as Cimabue and becoming explicit with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
In this renascent view, human migration toward cities is a spontaneous intuitive effort to sustain in a peopled Earth. In an infinite Earth system, cities must be complementary infinite systems to sustain across the long run. And the long run outcome can be a surprising one—that we can create an oasis of human and non-human diversity and fittedness out of what we have presumed to be separate from wild nature and artificial and domestic.
Our environmentalism can transform to be a positive health model rather than adversarial, and be people-friendly. The task before us is large, but we are beginning to look more as residents than as migrants—from a posture of inclusion rather than intrusion and exclusion. In the city itself, there is an opportunity improve human health and optimize other species through fresh strategies such as reconciliation ecology and a litany of approaches such as “vertical gardens,” participatory architecture, green space, green technology. An online search of eco-strategies will produce a near-unending list of creative endeavors.
Startling, “domestication” that integrates “self-as-landscape”—this sense that humanness is more than human beings—may be the core expression of a constructive “human wildness.” And this sense of contemporary human wildness is not esoteric or an ethereal return to a Pastoral state. It is perhaps most wild in its quest for concrete alertness and adaptation—key dynamics of wild processes. It is a practical, optimally healthful and deeply economic strategy, that, in a now-peopled Earth, can re-imagine Thoreau’s admonition, …in Wildness is the preservation of the world.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Lance Kinseth, Living City, ink/bristol, 1984
APPEARING TO BE the antithesis of nature, the contemporary city is perhaps at the vanguard of nature. Appearing so civil and domestic, the city is so very young in the history of the Earth. It exists because of the yields of the grasses, and it has the energy of a wild, young river. Wearing the mask of a citadel, the city is fragile. Its foundations are the grasses and soil and waters and weathers. Residents of culture, yes, and yet like fish in a river, only vaguely living their residency in Earth and cosmos.