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The Malaria Paradox: Should We Sacrifice People to Save the Planet?
Thursday, 14 July 2016 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Children in Poverty with Preventable Diseases, photo by Venetia Joubert Sarah OosterveldIn a book written in 2009, The Life You Can Save, Princeton philosopher Peter Singer created the ethical quandary now known as the pond example.

This week, in his column for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof introduced the pond example and applied it to the participants in the G-8 summit. In his version, the world leaders are walking by a pond and spot a young girl drowning. There are no cameras around and the leaders have very pressing concerns with profound global implications that a rescue operation will delay addressing. In short, every second counts.

The pond example asks a simple question: what should they do? Read on…

 
How to Stop Buying, Find Eternal Happiness and Save the Earth
Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Jewelry photo by Orin ZebestWhen presented with a wild idea, at least if it’s a good one, many scientists tend to say about the same thing: ‘I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a good metaphor to think with.’

Punctuated Equilibrium is a good metaphor to think with.

It’s one of the ideas evolutionary biologists use to explain why most sexually reproducing species see very little evolutionary change throughout most of their history, but this stasis is punctuated by periods of intense fluctuation.

The Punctuated Equilibrium theory says that life likes stasis and that when evolution does occur—when stasis is upset and a species splits into two—it happens in localized, rare and rapid events. Read on…

 
If Plants Can Think, Is Global Deforestation a Form of Genocide?
Sunday, 06 December 2015 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Flower and Child photo by Syed Touhid HassanBack in 1966, a CIA interrogation specialist named Cleve Backster performed an interesting experiment.

Because lie detectors measure skin moisture (sweat) through galvanic response, Backster had hooked up a cane plant to a lie detector to measure rates of water consumption. But when he examined the polygraph, he saw a response pattern very similar to that of humans.

Even stranger, because Backster knew that stress provoked the strongest response in polygraph tests, he started to wonder what would happen to the response if he burned a leaf.

Mind you, he didn’t burn the leaf—he merely thought about burning it. But when he thought about it, the polygraph went wild. Read on…

 
Hocma for Spaceship Earth: The Time Is Now, the Choice Is Ours
Thursday, 01 October 2015 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

'Spaceship Earth' Book photo by m nicolasnova “Spaceship Earth” is a phrase not used much anymore, but it’s been around for a while and seems worth revisiting.

Everybody’s best guess at an origin dates back to Henry George’s 1879 book, Progress and Poverty, and the line: “It is a well-provisioned ship, this on which we sail through space.” It popped up again in 1965, when Adlai Stevenson said, “We travel together, passengers on this little ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil.”

But it was Buckminster Fuller’s 1969 Operating Manual for the Spaceship Earth that firmly cemented it into our consciousness. When he used the phrase, he meant it literally: we are literally surrounded by a vast and hostile universe. The average temperature in intergalactic space is three degrees above absolute zero. The nearest source of warmth is usually several hundred million light years away. Read on…

 
‘The Sky Is Falling’: A Losing Argument for Environmentalists
Sunday, 13 September 2015 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Global Warming Protestors photo by Rodrigo Paoletti A while back, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote a piece about our nation’s passivity. His argument was essentially that since the end of the Civil Rights era, Americans have stopped giving a damn. “Being American has become a spectator sport,” he wrote.

So why is this happening? According to Herbert: “This passivity and sense of helplessness most likely stems from the refusal of so many Americans over the past few decades to acknowledge any sense of personal responsibility for the policies and choices that have led the country into such a dismal state of affairs, and to turn their backs on any real obligation to help others who were struggling.” Read on…

 
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Eco Tip

Buy or Make Green Gifts. No need for an orgy of conspicuous consumption at each holiday or anniversary. Show your love for the planet by making your own gift from recycled materials or giving the most valuable gifts of all—your time and caring. More tips...

Eco Quote

The packaging for a microwavable 'microwave' dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries. — David Wann, Buzzworm, November 1990   >More quotes...