Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

A Reader Responds: Buckminster Fuller, Part of the Climate and Energy Series

Buckminster Fuller, an enormously influential thinker in the mid-20th century has fallen from view in recent decades, but a reader thinks he can, at least philosophically, help us understand the issues around energy and climate change: After reading an old New Yorker profile of R. Buckminster Fuller, the following Fuller insights seem particularly relevant to bridging the current divide over climate change and formulating appropriate local and global responses.

  • All humanity shares one “spaceship earth.”
  • Mankind, with its power to affect the survival of our species and the health of our planet, must accept the role of “co-pilot” and act to keep the “spaceship” healthy.
  • Humanity is an “experimental initiative of the Universe,” and our intelligence gives us the capacity to make the experiment either a success or a failure. Nuclear and biological weaponry are the most dramatic powers in our destructive arsenal – and few disagree over the threat they pose to survival. But we haven’t achieved political consensus on either the threat posed by how we live or our responsibility for climate change.
  • We have the ability to create a sustainably high standard of living for all – if we convert our technological focus from weaponry to “livingry.”
  • No-growth advocates fail to understand technology’s potential to provide increasingly more from increasingly fewer resources.
  • Fuller believed that to achieve a sustainable “spaceship earth:”
    • It’s futile to try to reform human nature.
    • Social change requires a “design revolution" that incorporates responsible and sustainable technological alternatives.
    • We must bridge the "conceptual gap" between C.P. Snow's “two cultures” (science and the humanities) – which in the western world speak completely different languages – if we are to make complex scientific research (such as that behind climate change) comprehensible to the general public.

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