This op-ed in last Sunday’s Review section of the New York Times, while both provocative and welcome as an unusual attempt at wide-ranging, whole-systems thinking that includes both humans and planet, also appears to make a number of notable assumptions that are common to most scientists. Here’s some of them; no doubt there are more, and yes — being only human — I tend to either overstate or understate or torque them into what might look like cartoonish sketches.
1) That “scientific “models of 3D reality can work well enough to actually be predictive for that reality. (As if some unknown factor X — and multiply that by an unknown factor Y — couldn’t just come in and render any model moot!)
2) That the “scientific” laws that (they think) govern this planet also govern the rest of the universe. (Hey! Might it be that the “laws” that appear to govern this place are actually just parochial “habits” currently operating within the apparently permanent space/time framework that envelops us?)
3) That energy-intensive extraction technologies with their various “waste” products are the only way energy can be generated: (Say wha? This is not even worth commenting on.)
4) That other (off-world) species are (or are probably) just as limited in their thinking as ours currently is; (Well, they must be, because, if they do exist, they’re all 3D, right? And they’ve all been around about as long as we have, right? and “descended from apes” (joke) right?)
5) That, by omission — refusal? neglect? ignorance? — dimensions other than ours, 3D, do not exist (and so therefore do not interact with 3D either). (And that goes for other- and inter-dimensional beings as well. Of course they don’t exist. How do I know? Because I, “the scientist,” have never met, or even seen one. And my five senses are the final arbiter, right?)
Sorry to be so sarcastic, but at least, let’s read this article, as we read anything, with a skeptical eye.
And yes, even so, it still might be inevitable, not because their models said so but, just because. And with that possibility in mind, do read Joanna Macy’s essay on the subject.
Meanwhile, it also behooves us to act as if we can transform our relationship to both each other and Mother Nature and, with authentic apologies for our former ignorant arrogance, ask Her — nay, beg Her — to show us how to reintegrate with the essentially (to us) mysterious systems of her beautiful living self.