Category Archives: culture change

A New Type of Thinking

The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.

Because attribution of sources is a big part of good scholarship, I went looking for the original source of this quote (often phrased differently, but almost always attributed to Albert Einstein).

What I found was things like:

Ah, searching for “Einstein” and “level of thinking” rather than “same level of thinking” turns up a much earlier example from The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Volumes 1-4, which is dated 1969 by google books though these snippets show it contains pieces from 1969 and 1970. The quote, on p. 124, is “The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level as the level we created them at.” It’s prefaced by “Einstein said an interesting thing”, and the same phrase and quote appears in a 1974 book by Ram Dass (who needs his own wikiquote page!), The Only Dance There Is, on this page, so presumably the one in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology is the same piece by Ram Dass.  [http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Albert_Einstein]

and

In the interview by Michael Amrine titled, ‘The Real Problem is in the Hearts of Men’ (New York Times Magazine – June 23 1946) Einstein says:‘Many persons have inquired concerning a recent message of mine that “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels“.’ (p.7)

The source of that recent message is quoted in an article that appeared the month before titled‘Atomic Education Urged by Einstein‘ where the mircofiche archive copy of the article reports on an appeal by telegram to ‘several hundred prominent Americans’ on 24 May 1946 in a ‘Plea for $200,000 to promote new type of essential thinking’. The telegram was signed by the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists with Albert Einstein as Chairman and the Federation of American Scientists. The text of that telegram is quoted in part and reads:

‘Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe… a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels… [http://icarus-falling.blogspot.sg/2009/06/einstein-enigma.html]

Of course, one can argue that the words and the source are not as important as the idea conveyed.  That notion that we have to think about things in new ways to resolve major problems is powerful.  I suspect that is why the quote is constantly rephrased and repeated, yet that essential message survives the transformations.

Video

KSR: The question is…

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorite science fiction writers.  His works include some of the better collapsitarian novels, The Wild Shore, Pacific Edge and Forty Signs of Rain, plus the brilliant Red Mars.  He gives a thoughtful response to the question “Is it too late?”

So on to the much better question: How much of the biosphere can we save? Similarly, how much of civilization can we save (and what parts do we most want to save)?

Sustainable Living, NTU Style

So, I’m finally moving into my first green building!  We’ve moved into one of the apartments at the top of Crescent Hall.  Erik has posted some pictures at colorjedi.tumblr.com, such as:

Crescent Hall, NTU, SingaporeClever features of this building include

  • the rainwater bioswale system you can see
  • shading structures to keep the direct sun out
  • some solar panels on the rooftops
  • double-glazed windows and insulation to keep the cool air in
  • air conditioners that are paid for with usage cards, so users can track how much that luxury is costing them
  • water heaters that benefit from waste heat from air conditioner use, and have “eco” mode (only heat on demand) as a default, and a vacation mode to not heat at all

Learn more about NTU’s sustainable building efforts here.

 

Link

Thanksgiving, as Told by Wednesday Addams…

Thanksgiving, as Told by Wednesday Addams…

A great article that captures one of my favorite film moments, by Alexa Carrasco at Paste Magazine.

“Wait. We cannot break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours.”

And then comes, the monologue. The lines Christina Ricci delivered so bold, so dead-pan we didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or hide our eyes in fear…

“Years from now, my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations; your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs.”

 

Link

Singapore’s outsized footprint

Singapore is putting some efforts into improving sustainability, but that doesn’t mean we’re outpacing the problem.

From Channel News Asia:

Singapore was found to have the seventh-largest ecological footprint [per capita]– a measure of the population’s demands on natural resources – out of more than 150 countries.

MtFaberStandard view - Photo by Erik S. Peterson

Read more: Lion City’s green ranking worsens

And then there was the transboundary haze at the beginning of the week:

Haze rating Monday night – mostly from fires on Sumatra.

So while there are glimmers of hope in the smog, it’s not all sunshine and roses here on the little island of Singapore.  There’s plenty of work left to do!

Good riddance to disposable plastic bags in CA

The Cabrillo Sustainability Council worked to eliminate plastic bags in 2011. Now a California statewide ban looks likely, having passed in the state legislature, though we’re still waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it into law.

Learn more at Grist/CityLab:

Last month, California became the first state to pass a bill banning the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. If signed into law, the measure will prohibit grocery and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags and require them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), will also provide funding for California-based plastic bag companies to develop sturdier, reusable options.

Worldwide, consumers use an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags each year—nearly 2 million a minute—with the use time of a typical bag just 12 minutes. Californians alone throw away 14 billion a year, creating 123,000 tons of waste and untold amounts of litter… [more at Grist]

Also at HuffPo.


Quick update: Jerry signed!  It goes into effect in July, unless lawsuits get in the way.

 

Aside

Seeing the pictures out of NYC gives me some real hope that we can create the kind of change we need soon enough to make a difference.  Time Magazine is reporting it as 400,000 just there, plus there were hundreds … Continue reading