People Planet: Cairo, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea at night from the International Space Station. Photo from NASA via flickr
The dozen or so of you who have followed this thing, whatever it may be called, haven't seen much from me lately. This mostly because too much else has been going on and there's just too little bandwidth to keep up. Several projects are underway that require lots of deep digging.
Also trumping a "blog" has been devotion to several personal documentary photography projects of prom parties, musicals and plays, state and regional frisbee tournaments, community swim meets, and other family, school, and community activities:
Something has to give, and this electronic outpost has taken a back seat. If any of you have thoughts on what should or could be done next here, give a shout....the issues remain. What, for example, are you interested in knowing more about that you cannot find out elsewhere?
My own interest is as strong as ever in the idea of visualizing global change at the intersection of human aspiration and earth's ability to sustain us. With this comes the formidable challenge of convincingly communicating this nexus simply, elegantly, and viscerally. Right now there is just a shortage of time and bandwidth to focus on this idea, I will continue as I can.
In the meantime, two items of note:
1.) Anthropocene Epoch
In May I was in London to speak at and participate in a fascinating conference contemplating the emergence of the "Anthropocene" geologic epoch. Suffice to say the Anthropocene is a fascinating way for us people to understand our relationship to to the planet that supports us and our seemingly infinite appetites. Expect to hear more about the Anthropocene as a way to frame our relationship to Earth.
Others have written about the conference, notably Andrew Revkin at NYT Dot Earth, who also participated, and the journal Nature.
Oliver Morton of The Economist reported on the conference with a major feature story, and the magazine put the Anthropocene idea on the cover of its May 28 issue (cover image below):
The Economist: The Anthropocene: A man-made world: Science is recognizing humans a a geological force to be reckoned with
The Anthropocene idea has been covered in some depth here:
2.) Aspen Environment Forum
I also helped co-orchestrate, moderate panels, and speak at the annual Aspen Environment Forum, which ended earlier this month. Now in its fourth year the forum is a co-production of colleagues at National Geographic and The Aspen Institute.
Aspen Institute: The Best Forum You've Never Heard of: The Aspen Environment Forum
One session of particular interest, one I had been trying to get on the agenda for years, on what could be called "black swan" events, was the May 30 opening discussion: Coping With Calamity: The Art of Looking Ahead.
"Headlines from the past two years tell an unsettling story: we live in an increasingly disaster-prone world. An Icelandic volcano shuts down air travel over the North Atlantic; an exploding drill rig coats the Gulf of Mexico with oil; epic floods (Nashville, Pakistan, Australia) and massive earthquakes (Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, Japan) kill hundreds of thousands of people and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Some of these disasters were natural, some caused by humans, and some perhaps a mix of the two. But all were dramatically amplified in their impact by the fact that we have, in the past half-century, put so many more people and failure-prone technology in harm's way--nuclear reactors on the coast of Japan, for instance, where the word "tsunami" was coined. Is it possible to build more resilience into our crowded and complex world? To what extent is preparedness merely a matter of investing resources and to what extent does it require changing mindsets--of learning to expect rather than be surprised by inevitable calamity?"
Signs From Earth Notes: Lessons from the longtail of improbable disaster (via @washingtonpost) #blackswan
It was also my very food fortune to speak at length with Stewart Brand, originator of the Whole Earth Catalog, Long Now Foundation, co-founder of the Global Business Network, and author of the recent book "Whole Earth Discipline." We talked about challenges and opportunities ahead as our expanding, aspiring human family continues to leverage the finite resources of the planet...
Brand's annotated website for Whole Earth Discipline:
Now, to the sea soon to conjure and contemplate...