Reply to Jack Alpert, Stanford Knowledge Integration Lab

Subject: Protocols that might trigger a quantum leap in human consciousness that would allow humans to survive the current worldwide Critical Mass of converging economic, energy, climate and environmental crises that threaten their survival.

I am dubious, Jack, about whether we are at a time of sufficient leverage of a sufficient number of people, dubious that we or any individual or small group can at this point trigger a new global mind set. Dissemination of these ideas alone would be a challenge, persuasion a larger one.
But as I reveal in Life Rules, such changes have occurred several times in human history. There have been several quantum leaps in consciousness/ perspective/capacity such as occurred when the first primitive humans suddenly started inventing and using tools, and during the 2500-year-long Axial Age in which all the world’s great religions were established, and again in the two centuries produced the Enlightenment. Significantly, each such world wide change of mind has been triggered by a Critical Mass of converging crises: disease, widespread poverty, successive wars, regional climate change, etc. like the one we face now.
At some point, when the going gets rough enough for enough people — likely very soon — they will begin to look for answers, solutions beyond electing outsiders like Donald Trump to head already broken political systems, or other kinds of leadership shake-up or revolution or succession. At some point most humans will truly lose faith in the existing political and economic system(s) to save them and, like many of the small towns and larger cities suffering from increased poverty, lost employers, or other forms of depredation and injustice and indifference, they will gather themselves to determine how to improve their fate, collaborate to do that and roll up their collective sleeves to do what can be done. I introduce a dozen examples in Life Rules, believing in the capacity of the Baldwin Effect to pull subsequent generations forward.
Your work could be a guide to such groups. Transition Towns, for example. And the towns that recently were reported on in “Can America Put Itself Back Together,” by James Fallows in the March 2016 Atlantic magazine.
My own Ten Commandments for Sustainability introduced in Life Rules were based on an idea similar to yours¬†introduced in your work in progress.¬†Since Life figured out some two million years ago how not to burn through or destroy the resources and environment Earth afforded them (of course the answers were written in adaptive genetic codes in the Earth’s first species, bacteria, and thus not consciously sought for or discovered) we might adopt and follow Life’s Rules too.
In Life Rules I offered my 10 Commandments of Sustainability as “Life’s Economic Survival Protocol”:

1. Life’s successful (long-lasting and sustainable) economies waste nothing and produce no waste they cannot consume or sequester.

2. They run directly or indirectly on inexhaustible forms of energy, the foremost of which is solar.
3. Life’s successful economies [read: ecosystems and their denizens] are relatively equitable, common-good economies.
4. Life’s basic units of economic activity are locally self-reliant, interdependent, mixed-species communities.
5. Locally self-reliant natural communities organize, regulate and govern themselves within limits set by their environments and by the needs of the larger communities of which they are a part. [Referring to the book’s treatment of nested holons].
6. Natural communities seek stability rather than perpetual growth and expansion.
7. They exchange information and pool intelligence in real time.
8. They distribute leadership according to the needs of the task at hand.
9. In hard times, Lifes’ successful — long-term sustainable — communities cut back on consumption and population.
10. Natural communities operate in ways that are inherently — organically — democratic.
There you have it, Jack. This does different things than your social contract plan, is less detailed, but honors as your plan does that people will need a recognizable model — the international space station in your instance — to make the mind shift that will be required of them — us — if we hope to survive in any numbers at all.
What do you think our chances are as a species? How soon do you predict all bets are off if we don’t get ourselves and our shit together?
All best,
Ellen
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