Category Archives: Global climate change


The wisdom of the system


I just had a weird thought. Weird but lucid. More like a vision.

I just thought, what if we are producing a generation of people who are going to solve the planetary problems we have created? What if the whole system, not just the human race but the planetary system itself, the biosphere, is producing the cure for its ills, in the form of a generation of humans agile enough to use technology to solve our problems, to produce unheard-of and undreamed-of new solutions to global climate change, etc.? What if the strangely nonlinear and collectivist sensibilities of the young are a direct planetary response to its own ills? Like a generation of planet healers? Like an organism producing its own medicine?

What if Gaia knows what medicine it needs?

Is that a preposterous idea? Why is that such a preposterous idea?

I rather like the idea myself: a generation of young people so well-adapted to the machine mind and the collective, networked global consciousness that out of this networked consciousness will emerge technological and social solutions that we can’t see now. We can’t see them because they haven’t been invented yet. But when they are invented they will be so astounding, and yet in retrospect so obvious, that they will take their place among the greatest discoveries of mankind. So far.

Throughout human history, it must have seemed like the end of the world lots of times. Think of what humans have gone through! So maybe scientific progress and technological advancement are a kind of planetary medicine. Of course it’s messy right now. It’s hard to see how it’s all going to work out.

And then my wife Norma said what she doesn’t like is how large tech companies like Apple keep making us buy new things. And I said, yep, they’re making consumers fund their R&D. And maybe it is like that, that we have to do this, for the R&D we’re funding by our global adoption of technological advances is R&D that will eventually save the planet. I don’t mean your iPhone is going to save the planet, or Apple is going to save the planet. But the collective intelligence and problem-solving and visionary genius that all our stupid little technological purchases funds may just be the thing that saves us. That some genius or collection of geniuses, wired into the collective and speedy problem-solving network of computers and agile, imaginative minds, will hit on something unforeseen.

When it happens, if it happens, it probably won’t look like that. The strands of connection will be thin and nearly undetectable, because we will have funded this thing in such a cloud way, such a nonlinear way. But in a sense, every time we buy something we are “throwing money at the problem.” And I don’t see why that should be such a dumb idea. Let’s throw more money at the problem. Let’s throw enough money at the problem that the problem at least notices.

It’s just an idea. It’s the kind of idea that sustains an optimism that some might find foolish. I just think that it’s normal and sensible to expect miracles.