Earth Day and Univironmental Determinism
Earth Day and univironmental determinism have much in common. Remember that the old scientific world view was systems philosophy, which sprung from the myopic outlook that our species was born with. Although we are still in our juvenile stage of development (see figure below from TSW), we are slowing gaining maturity. Part of this growth involves looking outside ourselves, thinking “outside the box,” as they say. Earth Day is such a celebration. True, as microcosms we are important, but the macrocosm (the environment) is equally important. Thinking only of ourselves will not do. Our continued existence requires a univironmental analysis. We need to give up systems philosophy, which considers portions of the universe to be isolated and unaffected by the rest of the universe. Perpetual growth is not an option.
The wonderful pronouncements made on Earth Day focus attention on the macrocosm: our limited resources, the aesthetics of our surroundings, and the treatment of other species as well as the members of our own. This reaching out process may be seen in the theorizing about the universe itself. Contradictions within the Big Bang Theory are now leading systems philosophers outside that box too, what with their oxymoronic speculations about “parallel universes” and “multiverses.” It is somewhat ironic that we are finally moving toward the realization that the universe is infinite at the same time that we are finally realizing that Earth’s resources are finite.
There is another side to Earth Day that is not celebratory: the Doomsday tendency. There is a bit of truth in the pessimistic view. After all, the Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things), implies that each microcosm (xyz portion of the universe) comes into existence as an assemblage of other things and eventually will go out of existence through dispersion. For each of us, “the end is near,” as the sidewalk prophets say. So from time to time indeterminists warn of the eminent extinction of Homo sapiens by its own hand. Thankfully, these chicken-little prognostications eventually fade away. We no longer have to worry about the “population bomb,” “nuclear winter,” “global cooling,” or “running out of food” as the cause of our eventual demise. That is scheduled to occur in about five billion years when the Sun reaches the end of its life.
Global demographic transition (from Borchardt, 2007, Fig. 12-3).
Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The scientific worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p.