Talk:Submissions/Tenets for our Common Good

From Wikimania 2010 • Gdańsk, Poland • July 9-11, 2010
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This paper is an attempt to develop a way to engage all humans in making the best environmental decisions that they know how to do with the information available. The current text is being discussed in several venues; the full text is found at http://alansblog.vox.com.

The basic premise is that if the climate changes as it appears may be possible given the possible linkage of massive methane reserves in oceanic and permafrost sources, "life as we know it" (as suggested by Dr. James Hanson) may no longer be possible. If this period of transition is short the use of the "full faith and credit" of all regions to address positive responses to this crisis in every daily life could make the difference between an extended tenure on eaarth (the mane for the current condition of the ball of dust that used to be called EARTH - Bill McKibben) for the current biosphere and its swift annihilation. See the recent National Geographic coverage of Titan and its methane atmosphere or search for the surface conditions of Venus. Neither of these situations may be a reasonable analog for what could happen here but they certainly show the effects of different atmospheres.

We are becoming aware that life can exist in many different states of nature - for instance those organisms that exist around deep sea hydrothermal vents. It is clear that they survive and reproduce, but there is no way that any terrestrial life could occupy the same niche. So it is quite possible for Earth to change to a much hotter surface state and still have a vibrant biosphere, but it will have a massively different composition.

The kinds of choices that humans are making now are driven by a financial engine that rewards short term thinking. This can be understood by looking at what is considered "bankable" today. It is not normal for someone to be granted a loan at zero interest or in fact to be paid to try new things outside of an organized corporate or academic structure. If there is an interest rate attached to the loan then it is normal for there to be a structure of payments, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually or periodically, that are designed to return the rent for the loaned proceeds and to gradually pay down the principal. The reality of the situation is that normal chartered banks are not really providing funds of their own to fund these transactions, rather they are simply stating that they have a contract with the borrower for that flow of funds back to the owner of the loan.

This set of calculations focuses all normal human thought toward those projects that have a predictable cash flow of an amount and timing that can support the rental charges. This is a simple definitional situation rather than something that is basic to the human condition. Yet as humanity increases its grip on the capability of the biosphere there are many "natural" functions that get displaced. It will be necessary for humans (regardless of whether there is a climate crisis or not) to find a way to enable the replacement or reestablishment of these lost natural functions.

This paper sets out a simple means for the immediate paradigm shift without the need for any coercion or requirement for "high rollers" to be displaced. However, there are some basic functions that will have to be recognized and accepted. They include the factors that are now driving various economies to the brink of bankruptcy - Greece and the USA for instance.

A misconception that needs to be addressed it the idea that TAXES are something to be avoided in a fiat money society. TAXation needs to be accepted as a means for controlling inflation rather than a revenue source. The rules for taxation must target those areas where funds collect and are not put to productive use with good environmental outcomes. It does not seem to matter how much an individual can receive as much as it does how the resources are used. This discussion needs to continue!