Agricultural, Industrial, Technological… Eco-Age?

This really is an exciting time to be alive. There are some crucial moments in the offing.

  • Arguably the most significant presidential election to be held since the birth of the first baby boomer.
  • A realization that our climate is changing and we may be the cause.
  • Growing, insatiable demand for oil driving prices to record highs.

Why do I seem so excited? Well Excited may not be the word. Optimistic is closer, and here’s why.

It’s opening the eyes of so many, particularly those of us who live in America. In my opinion we have never taken energy conservation seriously in this country. In fact we have been in many ways “the wasteful society.” You can fix blame in any number of places, but no one thing, person or administration can carry the load. It’s closely connected to our culture and the almost unstoppable inertia that propels it along.

I’m optimistic because we seem to have finally awakened to the fact that we don’t need vehicles the size of houses to get our groceries, run errands, go to work and take the kids to school. I was in Paris not that long ago and saw a lot of these kinds of cars on the street.

In the U.S. you can’t even find many normal cars on the road anymore. So many people drive something that looks like this.

Shuttering four GM truck plants and grounding hundreds of commercial jets has serious implications for tens of thousands of people. But if we look for that silver lining it just might be the start of an entirely new age; The Eco-Age

When I wrote the post Speed, I am Speed on November 2, 2007, it was at the time, a collection of passing thoughts on how quickly things are moving these days. I based the post on a talk that Ray Kurzweil gave in San Francisco. I was in the audience and he pushed a frozen gear in my head into motion. Ray is an inventor, thinker, futurist and quite frankly genius. His site is here. He talks about The Singularity, which is defined in this manner.

“The Singularity” is a phrase borrowed from the astrophysics of black holes. The phrase has varied meanings; as used by Vernor Vinge and Raymond Kurzweil, it refers to the idea that accelerating technology will lead to superhuman machine intelligence that will soon exceed human intelligence, probably by the year 2030. The results on the other side of the “event horizon,” they say, are unpredictable.

Essentially he states the speed at which things are being invented, evolved and advanced is increasing at amazing rates. By 2010 he is predicting that computers will begin to disappear into our bodies. By 2030 man and computer will merge. Why is this important? Because man can then harness the computing power of silicon wafers and begin to ween us off the fossil fuel drug. He predicts that solar power will be as cheap as fossil fuels in five years, and in 20 years all our energy will come from clean sources.

Earlier this week I read an article in The New York Times, Science Times section titled, The Future is Now? Pretty Soon, at Least by John Tierney, who saw Mr. Kurzweil speak at the World Science Festival in New York. Reading that article brought me right back to being in the audience in San Francisco last year.

People all over are working hard to extract us from the downward spiral that’s drying up oil wells and scorching the earth. We need to break the wasteful mindset and instill green habits. It’s happening all around us.

Companies have really latched on to it. Everyone seems to be making and selling green products (or at least they are marketing green well). I recently checked my carbon footprint to see how I was doing. Calculate your own here to see where you stand.

2 thoughts on “Agricultural, Industrial, Technological… Eco-Age?”

  1. I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

    Recently read another incredible book that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil’s work. The book is “”My Stroke of Insight”” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor’s talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It’s spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I’m not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I’ve read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they’re making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
    If you haven’t heard Dr Taylor’s TEDTalk, that’s an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it’s 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

    There’s a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best “”Fantastic Voyage”” , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!

  2. Beverly, Thanks for the great comment. Enjoyed your perspective on right and left brains. Will put Fantastic Voyage and My Stroke of Insight on my reading list. Have you read Oliver Sacks? In particular An Anthropologist on Mars. He’s a gifted neurologist with a strong passion for understanding and helping people. Steve

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