by Dr. Brian O'Leary
May 14, 2011
“Our institutions are constructed in
such a way that trying to achieve anything is going to be
extremely difficult…(We’ll need to have) a substantial popular
movement which is not just going to call for putting solar
panels on your roof, though it’s a good thing to do, but it’s
going to have to dismantle an entire sociological, cultural,
economic and ideological structure which is just driving us to
disaster. It’s not a small task, but it’s a task that had better
be undertaken, and probably pretty quickly, or it’s going to be
“We are living in a period of mass extinction. What is your
personal carrying capacity for grief, rage, despair? The numbers
stand at 120 species per day… This culture is oblivious to their
passing, entitled to their every last niche, and there is no
roll call on the nightly news… We’ve already seen the pictures
of the drowning polar bears.
Are we so ethically numb that we
need to be told this is wrong?…If burning fossil fuels will kill
the planet, then stop burning them… by “realistic” (most
environmentalists) don’t mean solutions that actually match the
scale of the problem.
They mean the usual consumer choices
- cloth shopping bags, travel mugs and misguided dietary advice
- which will do exactly nothing to disrupt the troika of
industrialization, capitalism, and patriarchy that is skinning
the planet alive.
But since these actions also won’t
disrupt anyone’s life, they’re declared both realistic and a
Jensen et al.
Two years ago I wrote a passionate plea
(below insert) to the newly inaugurated U.S. President
Obama to make good on his
promise to lead our beleaguered nation into a new era of “change.”
Open Appeal to Mr. Obama From a
Who is Gravely Concerned About Our
Dear President Obama,
I congratulate you on your election. As a former
astronaut, Eagle Scout, Ivy League professor, frontier
scientist, futurist, advisor to presidential candidates,
and an international author and speaker, I can identify
with your feeling of significant motivation and
achievement. But, in my later years as I now approach
the age of seventy, many of those perks of recognition
pale before a sense of urgency with which I feel we must
approach our task of transforming humanity and nature
into an environmentally, socially and morally
I honestly don’t know whether we’ll make it through
these times. You’re in the driver’s seat now, and your
task is daunting. You will have to stand up to some very
powerful interests who do not want to live under those
public policies that will become necessary for us to
survive these times. You must understand this most basic
conflict of interest in your position. But are you aware
enough of what is really happening to us all? Do you
truly know the depth of the crisis and the breadth of
opportunities that lay outside the box of conventional
thinking? I must admit that during my days of relative
fame, I was largely oblivious of the deeper issues
before us. The spotlight itself has a way of distorting
our perceptions of reality.
In today’s world, there is so much suffering, ignorance,
neglect and corruption. Leaders nowadays prey on this
condition. By supporting some of the most criminal
actions in human history, the powerful elite have
created an atmosphere of mass obedience by a fearful and
helpless populace to wanton genocide and ecocide. We are
destroying ourselves and each other and nature through
the selfishness and greed of the few. As a result,
unrest is brewing in response to monumental military,
economic and political tyranny.
You must know that true knowledge, wisdom and compassion
are threats to the status quo. George Orwell said, “In a
time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a
revolutionary act” and Isaac Asimov wrote, “When
stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be
intelligent.” I believe we now live in such a time to
the extreme, and this situation is particularly poignant
for us Americans now living under the tyrannies of
empire and economic collapse. You come into office on
the wings of conflict between a private power that has
incubated you and a public clamoring for authentic
change which so many of us have entrusted in you. You
stand in the middle of an enormous gulf of interests,
and you must know that at its deepest levels.
Those of us who take the road less traveled towards a
greater truth always have been, and still are, martyrs
placed on the altar of change. These heroes, often
unrecognized in their own time, become the objects of
religions and nation-states, which then become
self-aggrandizing dogmatic institutions that have
nothing to do with the original intentions and spirit of
the founders. The founders could only be rolling in
their graves about how their contributions have become
Continuity and bipartisanship cannot be nearly as
important as returning to the basic principles of
integrity, civility and public trust. You’ll need to
confront the tyranny of our recent past. Sacred myths
such as the official stories of the JFK assassination
and 9/11, for example, become enshrined in a fog of
deception, lies and ignorance that distract us with
bread and circuses, which, if perpetuated, can only
precede the inevitable fall.
You must know the truth of all this, it’s too obvious
for you or any other intelligent and sentient being not
to be able to recognize. You must know that we have an
imperiled planet and civilization that cannot endure the
collective neglect of humanity. You must know that we
cannot rely on half-measures such as a slow withdrawal
from Iraq, miniscule reductions in the defense budget,
insignificant nuclear arms reductions, bank and Wall
Street bailouts, or advocating nuclear power, “clean
coal” and carbon cap-and-trading as lasting remedies to
climate change. You must know that such minutiae cannot
solve these problems. You must know, at some level,
about Einstein’s dictum that no problem can be solved at
the level at which it was created.
Our species has invaded our home planet with such
cancerous vengeance and with such little conscious
awareness or acknowledgement of the depth of our
dilemma, it is hard to imagine how we can get out of
this matrix. But get out we must. It is much too late
for us to fulfill your mandate to “change” in the way
you have embarked on choosing your advisors and cabinet
members. You must know that these individuals are
throwbacks to prior administrations who are the epitome
of an old ideological paradigm of a rule that cannot
work in these times. Many of us have become suspicious
that you are only paying back those elite individuals
and groups that paved and payed your way towards where
you sit now. Have they so threatened you to
conform-or-else that you can’t act differently?
For you to succeed you’re still going to have to bite
the hand that fed you. You will have to feint your way
like in a basketball offensive around and through the
broken field of defending opponents, who include those
who have supported you so well financially. You will
have to stand up in your courage and “betray” them (from
their point of view).
Are you up to the task? Are you willing to risk life and
limb to lead us into taking those actions needed to
create a viable system of governance? Are you motivated
enough to join the ranks of our brothers Martin Luther
King, Mahatma Gandhi and John F. Kennedy to take bold
actions toward a peaceful, just and sustainable future
for humankind? Are you willing to evict the
money-changers and militarists from the temple?
At some level, I think that you’re aware that your
definition of “change” in no way resembles the kind of
“change” any sensible and knowledgeable person not
beholden to vested interests would feel is truly
necessary for our own survival.
l Mr. President, we’re all in great trouble if you are
unwilling or feel unable to address the pleas of the
vast majority of the people of our nation and of the
world. They cry out for peace, sustainability and
justice. You must also address the fact that nature,
too, has rights. Reforming the voracious appetites of
the moneyed interests and of the military-industrial
complex will not be enough. Look all around you at the
degraded environment, at the suffering of the peoples of
the world longing for food in their mouths and for the
kind of leadership that could relieve their pain and
give us all a reasonable chance to move forward.
The crisis of America is first and foremost a moral
crisis that has moved us away from the fact that we have
a physical situation that demands physical solutions to
have even the possibility of peace, sustainability and
justice. We must now stop the wars, stop the torture,
stop the criminal corruption and the lies, stop the
theft of the common weal, stop the surveillance of the
innocent, stop all the polluting, stop the suppressions
of true innovation. You must courageously lead us into a
state of truth and reconciliation of our culture and
stop the acting and pretending that authentic change is
what you say you intend to create, because that isn’t
what you’re doing - yet anyway.
I suggest to you that we need to define what is meant by
“change.” The change you could believe in and you have
often expressed is what we might call incremental
change. These are the small rhetorical feel-good kinds
of changes that separate Democrats from Republicans, the
liberals from the conservatives, the Tweedledees from
the Tweedledums, all inhabiting a narrow spectrum of
ineffective “centrism,” holding onto power for dear life
as Rome burns. These are the kinds of changes that got
you elected as you navigated through the narrow passage
between the special interests and the appearance of a
Beyond all that, we could consider what one might call a
progressive structural change, such as eliminating
electoral fraud, serving justice upon past criminality
in high places, reregulating Wall Street, restoring the
Constitution and the rule of law, re-establishing the
“real economy” based on productivity rather than
gambling away and squandering the public treasury,
controlling the excesses of the Pentagon and an imperial
aggressive foreign policy, restoring to Congress the
power to print money and declare and fund wars, and
allocating more resources to health, the environment,
education and infrastructure.
Many progressives are desperate to restore this kind of
common sense at the structural level and to create
another New Deal for the economic crisis. The liberals
would be grateful if all that were to happen, just to
get us out from the deep hole we now find ourselves in.
They would be satisfied to go back to the Clinton and
Roosevelt years, to have just a bit more common sense in
a world-gone-mad. Even some degree of neoliberalism, or
economic globalization (i.e., exploitation and biocide
by other means), might seem sort of OK, in this view.
Yet we know these measures are not OK legally or
morally; they are only the actions of economic
But in today’s world, you must know that even structural
changes in and of themselves will produce too little too
late, and may be counterproductive in the long run, as
we again become lulled into a false sense of security
and buy a little more time before the inevitable
collapse. Whereas incremental changes address mild
corrections that really don’t amount to much, structural
changes look at how the current system can be modified
to bring things back to where they were in somewhat
better times. These approaches can only give us a frame
of reference to launch authentic change. What we must
have is systemic change to an entirely new paradigm of
governance in the public interest that truly addresses
the challenges of our times at the level they will need
to be met.
Structural change cannot truly answer grievous
violations of the public trust nor can they answer
today’s deepest issues. Only systemic change can do
that. Whereas structural change can relieve the stress
of a crisis in the short term, it cannot survive the
test of time. Structural change can restore some sort of
sanity to our systems, it cannot address the systems
themselves. We must now challenge the precepts upon
which our political, economic and military systems are
based. We must deeply question the “isms” upon which we
depend such as capitalism, militarism, neoconservatism,
neoliberalism, centrism, monetary socialism, economic
globalism, Zionism, terrorism.
A new era must
dawn, a new set of systems will need to be put into
place in the near future for us to survive. Can you in
your heart agree with what I suggest here? Or will you
deny the gravity of these problems from your high and
removed perch? Will you solely rely on probably
misinformed and outdated advice coming from your cabinet
and your staff? For you to advocate and map out systemic
change, you will need all the help you can get from
What would a world of positive systemic change look
like? Generally, it should have the following features
in which you will need to take the lead:
1. Restore the
letter and spirit of the Constitution and Bill of
Rights. This is the most major structural change we
should do immediately.
2. Fearlessly initiate a program of truth and
reconciliation, overseen by a jury of citizens
without vested interests in the current system.
Truth-telling cannot any longer be dismissed as
conspiracy theory. The greatest conspirators are now
holding all the political and economic cards and
they must be exposed, whether it be electoral fraud,
excessive private campaign financing, illegal
surveillance, torture, illegal war, false flag
operations, pollution or the embezzlement of the
public treasury. All these things, and many more,
will need to come to the light of public scrutiny.
The process of reconciliation seeks to return us to
the rule of law and to serve justice upon those who
have violated it, with fairness and compassion for
3. Dissolve or stop funding those influential
institutions with agendas that are blocking change
toward global peace, justice and sustainability.
Start over. Dismiss the leaders of most of our
public institutions and build new ones from the
ground up. Stop funding those private institutions
that dip into the public treasury in ways that are
clearly immoral and unproductive. This will require
a courageous stand to dissolve the current federal
bureaucracy as it is (DoD, CIA, NSA, the current
treasury, the FBI, Department of Justice (sic),
Department of Energy, etc.).
international institutions such as the Illuminati,
the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg
Group, the Trilateral Commission, World Bank,
International Monetary Fund, World Trade
Organization, the Federal Reserve and other central
banks, big oil, big pharma, big agriculture, weapons
manufacturers, and other groups representing
existing elite monied interests. The current
priorities of the U.S. federal government and of
globalist New World Order organizations directly fly
in the face of what we must do to survive the crisis
of civilization. We need a clean-up like we’ve never
seen before and some heads are likely to roll. So be
it. The world can only be thankful for getting out
from under this oppression.
4. Start over the entire systems of federal and
global governance. Yes, we can still have a
Constitutional executive, legislative and judicial
system. We can still have a (much smaller) military,
a justice department, an energy department, a
treasury, publicly funded health care, environmental
protection, quality education, infrastructure and
all the rest. Yes, we can formulate a transition
strategy to convert institutions and manpower toward
the public interest, free of vested powers.
Yes, we can
convert our massive military, dirty energy and
aeorospace capabilities toward innovation in energy,
the environment, food, water, health, education and
infrastructure. Yes, we can create an Earth corps to
clean up the environment instead of having of an
aggressive Army, Navy and Air Force. We can do all
this without workers having to lose their jobs. Yes,
we can come to peace with the rest of the world
through diplomacy and compassion. The world awaits a
restoration of good will coming from a rogue nation
that has outlived its usefulness as a warmongering
and fear-mongering empire.
5. Form a global green democracy whose agenda would
be almost diametrically opposed to the New World
Order agenda. Representatives of all nations must
come together to formulate and enforce a system that
would ensure peace, sustainability and justice for
all peoples, while encouraging local rule wherever
possible. In no case should special interests, money
or secrecy determine the agendas of these
governments. At the root of this should be the
principles of life, liberty, equality, justice,
peace and sustainability.
6. Fearlessly foster (suppressed) innovation such as
free energy. Any systemic change will require the
utmost attention to honestly assess those new
sciences and technologies that can change the world.
Only these systemic changes will be able to open the
door to authentic transformation of the culture. We
must get beyond the rhetoric of weak policies that
would only slightly mitigate the effects of global
climate change and pollution. We’ll have to think
outside the box and get into the meat of the matter.
We should quickly develop those energy sources that
are truly cheap, clean, safe and decentralized, such
as vacuum energy, cold fusion and advanced hydrogen
technologies such as solar, wind or biofuels are up
to most of the task; we will need to innovate and
transcend the promotions of the multitude of special
interests that become vested in this or that
existing technology. Following the latest fad can
only cloud our judgment and action. No existing
public or private institution wants to support these
hidden truths and so it will become necessary to
dissolve those institutions vested in old ways and
start new ones that can support rather than suppress
the deeper truths and opportunities of our times.
The unsung heroes
of innovation will need all the help they can get to
team together in an Apollo program for new energy
development, frontier science and consciousness.
These research and
development projects will become the cornerstones of a
whole new civilization that could save us from ourselves
and from those of us who insist that change can only be
incremental or structural.
Mr. President, you must know we all are entering the
gravest crisis the world has ever experienced and that
the situation can be addressed only by implementing the
kinds of systemic changes listed above. Many of us are
willing to support these efforts in team-work with you.
I believe you will have no other choice but to move into
these changes briskly. Otherwise, the degree of unrest,
fear and repression will be too great to allow us to act
without further violence, totalitarian control and
ecological and economic collapse. We don’t want that
kind of world, we want to have room in which to innovate
our way from the very systems that have become so
decadent, so destructive, so tyrannical.
Is this an impossible task? Not if we act radically,
decisively and quickly. We can only try. Crisis breeds
opportunity. It is time to restore the ideals upon which
our nation was founded. We have grievously lost our way
from practicing those principles. We are also rapidly
losing a natural environment that can nurture us all on
this fragile spaceship we call Earth.
Mr. Obama, I appeal to your intelligence, wisdom and
compassion to begin to facilitate the dialogue that will
allow us to create those new systems that can foster the
kind of future world we really want to enjoy for
ourselves, our children and their children. I in no way
mean my critique to be personal, I only want to help
build a fire under all of us to begin the journey toward
an exciting and positive new paradigm.
I appealed to his sense of compassion
and moral correctness to fearlessly dig into our system’s decay
the powers-that-be and to co-create
with expert visionaries unbeholden to vested interests a whole new
set of systems that are truly peaceful, just and sustainable for
generations to come.
A first step would be to renew the
spirit of the tarnished U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
I warned Mr. Obama that if we are to survive these times we will
have to go way beyond the incremental changes of liberal reform and
surpass the structural changes of a New Deal and the,
“What we must have is a systemic
change to an entirely new paradigm of governance in the public
interest that truly addresses the challenges of our times at the
level they will need to be met.”
I am deeply saddened that neither Mr.
Obama nor anyone else in power has come even close to leading us out
of our morass - whether it be,
...that threaten our very survival and
most life on Earth.
Instead Obama and other policy-makers
continue to cave in to the very interests that created the problem
in the first place. There has been no change except towards more
war, more pollution, more greed and more denial of our dramatic
Mr. Obama seems to have been captured by
the systemic malevolence of vested powers while brainwashing the
rest of the populace into a bewildered submission, characterized by
confusion and occasional feelings of fight or flight.
Matrix and Starting Over
Our dramatic decline has been so great, it seems that there is
little recourse but to desperately escape on personal lifeboats from
a sinking Titanic in the frigid dark waters of imminent Collapse.
We in the Andes can measure this
response by the steady stream of frightened but awakening gringos
from North America seeking to escape from the ravages of the North
by heading for an uncertain but exciting new life in apparently
safer places like Ecuador. A lot of young people, some with
small children, are arriving here to avoid the
radiation poisoning from Fukushima
and many other accelerating political and environmental indignities.
Our eco-retreat center
Montesueńos is one of several
receiving docks to greet the arriving flood of Noah’s Arks coming
from the endangered industrialized world.
But even here in the global South, we
are threatened by economic and political hit-men violently
encroaching upon ever more of our dwindling, biodiverse resources
and disappearing indigenous peoples.
Ecuador is getting trashed by
the predatory greed of resource-gobbling corporations, which are
often given free reign by our cash-strapped governments to rape the
environment in exchange for money. In the end, there’s no place left
on spaceship Earth to hide.
the Matrix in the long run is not possible unless we as a
people join together globally to stop aggression and
pollution and embark on an entirely new path.
This is all so very sad when we look at the details about the
deteriorating state of the world. The Internet is ablaze with horror
stories of genocide, ecocide and imminent collapse.
It is now past time to recapture the spirit and optimism of that
letter to Obama and
rewrite the letter, this time
addressed to those of us who can truly lead and listen, and who can
intelligently and passionately embrace the daunting task of
designing systemic change toward a lasting peace, justice and
If you don’t yet feel the depth of our grief about what humanity is
doing to the environment, you need only look at two recent essays,
one by the radical environmental author Derrick Jensen and
the other by the brilliant elder scholar
Jensen has captured that grief and come
out of the woods with flailing sword, declaring that we must do
something about our assaults on the womb of
Pachamama now - or else.
While Jensen appeals to the emotions,
Chomsky enlightens the intellect, but their conclusions are
basically the same:
A handful of very powerful people
and corporations, motivated by a desperate predatory greed, have
enabled themselves to destroy our environment as quickly as
possible so they can get theirs while the getting’s good.
The people and the environment are
merely collateral damage in this blind quest for power
and control. This handful of the rich and powerful are willing
to accept a systems collapse in order to reign supreme as they
consolidate their power.
Chomsky argues that while
our financial crisis can ultimately
be solved by putting the burden on the taxpayer, the environmental
crisis is fundamentally irreversible under today’s rules of
The system is set up to optimize its
continued survival by optimizing profits within a corrupt market
economy that doesn’t account for externalities and that creates
enormous systemic risks affecting us all.
Within any large corporation, if someone
decides to step outside that box and factor in systemic risks, he or
she will be quickly replaced.
Yet such a system cannot survive this
kind of tunnel vision. Profits may be maximized within the system,
but like the host of a cancer, the system itself will inevitably
collapse, as the recent unregulated financial crisis has shown, if
external factors are not taken into account.
Systems can crash as a result of the
very success of companies that follow their own internalized rules
to optimize their profits. A prime example of this self-defeating
behavior is our global addiction to fossil fuels.
Chomsky cites the sixty-year development
of the U.S. interstate highway system, for example, as a highly
successful effort to,
“redesign the society so as to
maximize the use of fossil fuels.”
We are now suffering the consequences of
these actions as we go to scarce supplies of oil, coal and natural
gas in increasingly sensitive areas such as,
Meanwhile, the emissions of greenhouse
gases and other pollutants might have already reached a tipping
point beyond which we may not survive. The mandate we inherit is a
daunting one: we must simply cease using both fossil fuels and
Our energy systems need a complete
overhaul now - nothing less will do.
Where to begin?
If we think in terms of whole systems
(e.g., energy, water, food, money, or waste) most of us can agree
that these systems have been so grossly mismanaged and the specific
technologies selected have been so grossly unsustainable, that the
systemic risks have become too great for us to survive.
In Chomsky’s words, we humans have
become a “lethal mutation” that cannot last much longer if we
continue to live under the current economic and political systems.
An irony in even proposing alternative systems and technologies is
that the very idea of governance and technology often has extremely
negative connotations for those of us who yearn for change.
Environmentalists and progressives often dismiss “technological
fixes” as a solution and yet have little to contribute otherwise,
acting as if all technology initiatives must by their very nature be
controlled by the elite.
Building new systems, therefore,
becomes a daunting task due to this blanket distrust, especially
combined with the enormous resistance that naturally arises from
vested institutions whose current governance and technology systems
are so dysfunctional.
Many of us are conditioned to believe that all governments and
technologies are bad for us. It is true that nowadays most of them
are bad for us - but they don’t necessarily have to be. They can be
designed to be friendly to us and to nature if we design them
If we don’t consciously design them to
be friendly to people and the environment, then by default we will
continue to descend into anarchy and unwise choices in our
So far, it’s been very difficult to envision and implement new
designs in the presence of such resistance. Yet change we must.
There are but few shining examples of truly responsible governance
and clean technologies, so a lot of what we need to do will be
starting from scratch. But we have to start somewhere.
During my decades with NASA and the aerospace community, I learned
that in any coherent design process we start with what is called a
This is simply a description of the
kinds of systems that can fulfill the vision or set of goals upon
which most of us can agree - for example, to co-create a peaceful,
sustainable and just world. There are sometimes called design
requirements that underlie the concept design.
For example, our choice of governance must truly reflect the will of
the people to cooperate and fulfill these goals. Our choice of
technologies must truly reflect the vision that we must have a
sustainable way of living for generations to come.
In looking at our energy systems, therefore, it stands to reason
that we’ll need to abandon most of our current energy systems - most
notably the 93% of our energy that comes from fossil fuels and
uranium - if we are to have a sustainable way of living.
We have to go beyond even traditional
renewables such as hydropower, biofuels, solar and wind because
they too are unsustainable when materials and land use are
We have reached a desperate time on the
planet when we need to see through the pervasive censorship
regarding heavily suppressed breakthrough clean energy technologies
zero-point, vacuum, cold fusion and
advanced hydrogen and water technologies.
The main problem confronting us is this:
Within each existing energy
technology there has been a buildup of enormous economic and
political vested interests that can be measured in trillions of
dollars per year. It’s not hard to see that the bigger an
existing system has become, the more difficult it is to change
The juggernauts of oil, coal and
nuclear energy and their associated infrastructures (e.g.,
highways, pipelines, drilling rigs, coal and uranium mines,
radioactive waste storage and the huge, inefficient and
unsightly grid systems) dominate our policies and practices.
Chomsky writes that for systemic
change to occur, we are going to have to dissolve most existing
institutions, and that means revolution.
But as Buckminster Fuller wrote,
“There is only one revolution
tolerable to all men, all societies, all political systems:
revolution by design and invention.”
We are in a
global revolution even now. This
revolution will destroy most of us, if it proceeds without some
semblance of enlightened planning, or we could co-create a much
cleaner set of design concepts upon which we can come together and
agree. Those seem to be our choices.
Our first step, then, should be to
create a concept design for transforming our currently dysfunctional
our governance systems
our energy systems
our food systems, etc.,
...to new systems that will truly work
These designs should come from a number
of interconnected advisory emergency councils that draw on our best
knowledge and best practices and are deployed in local regions as
well as disseminated worldwide. These councils would be made up
mostly of well-informed and open-minded elders (I’ll volunteer!) to
co-create conscious governmental structures and clean technologies
designed to work with nature rather than against nature.
Unfortunately, virtually no politician on this planet has any
interest in designing this revolution, and so by default our public
policies only perpetuate the status quo and deepen the crisis.
Republicans and now Democrats will in
fact do everything in their power to shore up existing systems that
support their continuing positions of power.
Libertarians scream that we shouldn’t
even have much government and we should let market systems and local
governance prevail, not realizing that this can lead to anarchy and
does not protect the environment.
We’re going to have to move beyond our current political and
economic systems for our answers. We must move beyond
media-amplified cults of personality and go directly to the
principles that underlie our new system designs. Under today’s rules
and expectations, no prominent politician can countenance any new
systems that would even give the appearance of supporting these
designs, except occasional vague rhetoric that we need to eventually
develop renewable energy.
Existing governments need to be informed that the game is up and
that the process of transition must begin now.
Perhaps a massive public petition would
be a place to start. In designing new systems we are merely stating
what our requirements and conceptual designs are. At this point we
are saying nothing about what this will mean for the ruling elite,
or for the availability of jobs, or about what kind of transition
scenarios or models of governance will be required.
The process of innovating and designing
can begin now, free of all the “stuff” that blocks it in today’s
Thus we can immediately get on with the
task of designing our new systems. Many of our most enlightened
innovators can surely team up to redesign our energy, money, food,
water and waste systems to our new specifications, much like
designing a spacecraft that can go to the Moon.
In aerospace engineering parlance, we often refer to two different
concept design philosophies as push and pull. Push
generally means designing incremental refinements to existing
designs, whereas pull means establishing designs to satisfy the new
goals agreed-to by those unbeholden to vested powers but desirous of
achieving them in new ways.
Biofuels and solar and wind energy, for
example, represent push technology, whereas breakthrough
clean energy devices constitute pull technologies.
In today’s world, a dominance of the push approach supported by
corporate managers and politicians can no longer work for us. More
often than not, a push agenda can only commit us to yet more profits
and pollution. We have no time for that. At its best, a push
philosophy allows us to design a transition from what no longer
works so that we are moving in the direction of what will work some
time in the future.
On the other hand, a pull philosophy
allows us to go directly toward what we want.
Pullers are sometimes unpopular and misunderstood due to the
populace’s fear that radically new designs will disrupt their lives
too much, including their desire to protect short-term parochial
interests (e.g., jobs, career, and economic “stability”).
Pullers, however, are truly the visionaries leading the way toward
radical, sustainable innovation.
I myself am more a puller than a pusher,
because I have
done enough research to be able to
see what is possible in the intermediate future, which could be
Holding Us Back?
Technology and government of any kind are two concepts that are
deeply distrusted by many of us who could make a difference. In
addition, systems-talk can be boring in the midst of the
sensationalistic dance we’re performing on the deck of our
It may be necessary for those of us who
choose to be pullers to design new systems by ourselves, knowing
that widespread acceptance will need to wait for a more opportune
moment. New governance and new technology systems can begin to be
designed now. We can immediately begin experimenting with
governmental structures and researching radical technologies to gain
experience with both in the future.
We can begin by creating,
Let’s form emergency councils to mediate
between the push and pull philosophy and to provide balanced advice
to world leaders regarding new technology design concepts for a
sustainable, peaceful and just world. Let’s openly discuss how we
can make the transition to the new world as smooth as possible.
And let’s team up and build our new
world, rather than dwell on the dominating drama of the unfolding
systems Collapse itself.
A visionary is someone who expresses new and improved design
concepts and persists in showing them to the world.
We need teams of practical visionaries
to design, research, assess and develop sustainable technologies.
These teams would then educate the public about the new technologies
and report about them to governmental structures for appropriate
implementation. An example of such a team is the newly formed
Global Innovation Alliance.
The gravity of the crisis confronting the planet calls to us to set
aside our egos and join together in unity of purpose. It is
essential that we begin the process immediately if we are to have
any chance of survival.
This is an initiative whose time has