Peter Brannen Is Kind Of An Amazing Man

Date: December 1st, 2017

Other Title: My Interview With The Amazing Peter Brannen

Look how adorable he is!

Book cover: 

Peter Brannen is kind of an amazing man. Tis true, tis true. He is the author of The Ends Of The World, a book you must read now if you haven’t already. Here’s a link to buy it: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062364807/the-ends-of-the-world

The Ends Of The World is about the five major extinctions our planet has endured. It is highly scientific, but for me at least, it reads like a novel – rightly emotional, fun, sweet, dark at times, and uplifting in the end. I loved the book so much that I annotated it. For fun. I got a pen and sat wherever I was reading it at any given time and expressed my feelings about the book, in the book. No teacher told me to. Peter sure didn’t.

The man’s Twitter feed is miraculous (some are missing their pictures or context, click each for full tweet):

I had the great honor of interviewing him, and here it is for your reading pleasure:

1. On Twitter, in reposting this post (https://twitter.com/Paleocreations/status/928695855439376384), you said “Earth has been many different planets over its lifetime.” This is sort of a two parter…Of all the “planets” Earth has been, which one is your favorite? And where is your favorite place to be on Current Earth?

 This is a very difficult question for me to answer, because it tends to change based on which period I’m researching at that moment. Some worlds, like the Cambrian world (illustrated in that link), I just love because of how alien they are. It’s difficult to believe that that world and our own both shared this same little plot of real estate in the solar system, even if we are separated by hundreds of millions of years. Of the periods I highlight in the book, there is the same sort of alien appeal for me in the Ordovician: the continents were nearly as desolate as Mars, but underwater, in places like tropical Ohio, it was just this explosion of sea life, and almost all of it was invertebrate–bug, squid, starfish-like etc.—and our ancestors, the fish, we’re all but irrelevant. It’s just a totally bizarre planet. And although it’s more recent, the Permian-Triassic planet is similarly alien to me. I’m fascinated by this version of planet earth in a sort of macabre way. It just gets so unbelievably hot and desolate. In fact, in these huge lifeless expanses of Pangaea there’s evidence that at one point earlier in the Permian it got as hot as 163 degrees Fahrenheit!

My favorite place to be on earth today is in front of any new rock outcrop with a geologist who can tell me what I’m looking at, and there’s good rocks everywhere. Geology has made the whole world more interesting to me.

2. What is your favorite fictional kingdom? 

I was struggling with this question, when I suddenly remembered a series of books I had when I was younger called Dinotopia. I just google image searched it and the illustrations are as incredible as I remembered. That is a fictional kingdom I would like to visit.

3. Who was the kindest scientist you met on your journey of writing The Ends Of The World? And who was the most eccentric? (I think I might be able to guess your answer for most eccentric, but I’m gonna let you say it.) 

All of the scientists were exceptionally kind in letting me barge into their offices and accompany them on trips to the field, and for not rolling their eyes when I asked a dumb question, so I’m going to be diplomatic and not single anyone out. “Eccentric” might have a slightly negative connotation in this context so I’ll just say that Gerta Keller certainly has the most interesting back story. As you know from the book, she basically ran away from home as a child, traveled the world, was later shot in a bank robbery, and today is easily the most divisive figure in the mass extinction community because of her iconoclastic interpretation of what killed all the non-bird dinosaurs 66 million years ago (not an asteroid, she says). As a group of people who spend their lives traveling to extremely locations to piece together answers to the big questions about the history of the planet, geologists and paleontologists are, as a rule, interesting people. But even among them Keller stands out.

4. What is your favorite element on the periodic table? Why?

I was tempted to say something crazy like astatine because of this xkcd piece https://englishatlc.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/randall-munroe-periodic-wall-of-elements.pdf. But I will be less exciting and say carbon. We’ve all heard before that we’re carbon-based life forms, and that carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, but I think we fail to appreciate just how central this element is to the whole crazy project of life on this strangely habitable planet. Through volcanoes it moves from the rocks to the air, from there it gets incorporated into our bodies, and, if we’re shell-building organisms, or we get turned into oil or something, it goes back into the rocks again. It keeps the planet warm enough to survive, and when it gets too warm it naturally subsides in the atmosphere. Only in extremely strange and rare episodes, like during the continental flood basalt eruptions associated with ancient mass extinctions, and in our own current effort to liberate as much of carbon from old rocks as possible by burning coal, oil and gas in power plants does it get wildly out of balance and threaten the stability of our biosphere.

5. What (who?) is your favorite prehistoric animal? 

Another impossible question. But I think I tend to gravitate towards either creatures that are underratedly terrifying, like Dunkleosteus which, as you know from the book, is this heavily-armored sea monster with a guillotine for a mouth, or animals that are truly bizarre. In this second category the Tully Monster comes to mind. I invite you to google it—the artists’ impressions of it are too strange to even describe. Others in the extremely strange camp that I love (to name just a few) are: Anomalocaris, one of the bewildering creatures that shows up at the dawn of animal life, and Tanystropheus, a marine reptile with a neck so incredibly long that it seems like the reconstructions must be wrong (they’re not). And like most people who enjoy visiting natural history museums I’m also drawn towards the extreme outliers in size, whether it’s Indricotherium, a hornless rhinoceros that was several stories tall, Leedsicthys, just this impossibly large, dumb-looking fish that lived in the Jurassic, or Quetzacoatlus, a pterosaur the size of a giraffe with a wingspan that rivals some small aircraft. Sorry to be so long-winded with these answers, there’s just too much from earth history to choose from.

6. During the researching and writing of the book, did you learn about something that particularly excited or scared you?

 I’m both excited and scared, in this perfect mix, by the vastness of deep time. I don’t think I fully appreciated it before. I think astronomy gets a lot of credit for being mind-blowing but I think geology does the trick just as well. For instance, I’m on the east coast (in Maine at the moment) and if I went for a walk with each step representing a century, I would be done with the history of human civilization by the end of the driveway. But I could walk across the entire country to Los Angeles without even getting back to the Cambrian period 500 million years ago. And even then I would have covered less than 10% of earth’s history! Now that I’ve fallen in love with geology I am constantly having that same mind-blowing experience every time I look at a rock.

7. In The Ends Of The World, on page 130, you say: “Though climate science was long an esoteric field, today a familiarity with the basics should constitute a core part of any responsible civic education for citizens of planet Earth.” Yes. Absolutely. Who or what inspired you to become so interested in climate science and extinctions? 

I’ve always been interested in the natural world, and I think my interest in climate science grew out of that. Like a lot of people my age I read Jurassic Park as a kid and was obsessed with dinosaurs. And then when I grew up I was a reporter writing about the ocean and all the modern changes we’re seeing to its temperature and chemistry. When I found out there was this deep connection between the subjects of earth history and climate change, that our experiment today with the climate has analogs throughout the history of life that we can look to for a glimpse of our possible future, it felt like a subject tailor-made to my interests.

8. In your opinion, is the problem with humans and global warming that we are capable of stopping it but generally apathetic, or that we are not capable of stopping it at all? 

I think we are physically capable of stopping human-caused climate change but I have strong doubts about the political will to do so. The most realistic path to reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting ourselves to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 requires the entire planet to completely stop using fossil fuels well before 2050, and then to somehow start sucking an incredible amount of CO2 out of the air every year after that with technology that (for all practical purposes) doesn’t exist yet. That is quite the tall order. At this point I think it’s a question of what degree of climate change we are willing to live with. At the lesser extreme we could get our act together and live in a slightly warmer world that—though it certainly will have more extreme storms, and droughts, and heat waves, and things like that—might be manageable for us to adapt to as a civilization (though there will still be losers, especially in tropical, poorer countries). And at the other extreme is the unthinkable: that we just keep burning carbon buried by ancient life, like coal and oil, and catapult ourselves into an alien greenhouse climate from tens of millions of years ago.

I don’t have the words to describe how catastrophic the second option would be, but I don’t think there’s any reason we would ever have to get to that point. It would require another century or two of burning everything we can find in the ground, and even in the current toxic political environment there are reasons to be encouraged, especially by younger people, that voters are beginning to take the need to transform our energy system seriously. That said, in the very long run, over thousands of years, even the small changes we make to the climate will have dramatic effects. A recent study showed that the entire ice sheet of Greenland could melt with as little as 0.8 degrees of warming. We’ve already warmed the planet 0.8 degrees and will likely warm it by much more. The good thing is that to completely melt the whole thing takes thousands to tens of thousands of years (the bad thing is you don’t have to melt all of Greenland to raise sea level a lot). As for ocean acidification (what happens when CO2 reacts with seawater) it will take something like 150,000 years for nature to restore the changes we’re causing to ocean chemistry today.

9. Do you think we, citizens of the U.S, will ever have a “scientist President”? Or even a “historian President?” Someone who understands and is interested in science and history and enjoys learning? Someone who is kind but who also tries to be somewhat logical? (If you think you could ever run for President, you would definitely have my vote.) 

Haha, that’s very kind of you. I sincerely hope we have a scientist president, and soon. So many of the problems we face today, and in the decades to come, will be scientific ones. And given the polling on questions like “How old is the earth?”, and an obvious dearth of critical thinking skills in the country in the age of “fake news”, it’s obvious that we’re massively underinvested in education. If I were president I would invest (probably to a slightly psychotic degree) on education and basic research. The National Science Foundation and NASA would do quite well in my administration. That said–and this is something of a digression–not all policy questions can be decided by science. There will always be a role for philosophy and ethics to play, along with a whole bunch of other subjects that I think too many scientists are too quick to sneer at as squishy.

For instance, Neil DeGrasse Tyson recently proposed a utopian society where every policy question is decided by data and scientific research alone https://www.facebook.com/notes/neil-degrasse-tyson/reflections-on-rationalia/10154399608556613/. I think there’s a lot to recommend this vision of society, especially when you compare it to our current scientifically illiterate one. But there would be major limitations to it as well, some of which would quickly become ghastly. Take Tyson’s example on how we should decide whether to have the death penalty, which he says should depend on the data on whether it’s effective at deterring crime. But this data is useless without some prior system of ethics. For instance, there would likely be a strong deterrent effect on the crime of shoplifting if we made it punishable by death, but I don’t think that this would inform us whatsoever on whether it’s the wise or just path for a society to take. There will always be these moral questions for us to decide.

10. In your opinion, what was the worst mass extinction so far? 

The End-Permian mass extinction is the worst mass extinction in the history of life and there’s not really a close second. Enough lava erupted in Siberia 252 million years ago to cover the lower 48 United States a kilometer deep, and the volcanoes injected so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere it caused temperatures to spike something like 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Up to 96% of life in the oceans died. Trees all but disappear in the fossil record for 10 million years after the mass extinction. Coral reefs are replaced with piles of bacterial slime. The planet basically had to reboot after the catastrophe, and it took millions of painful years to do so. It was the worst moment in the history of the earth. And yet, the earth recovered. And it did more than just recover. From the ashes of the End-Permian mass extinction blossomed the age of dinosaurs and, after that, the age of mammals, and everything we see living in our world today. Life is incredibly resilient and even after the worst disaster in its history the earth enjoyed its greatest flourishing. I think there are some lessons we can learn from our wonderful planet.

. . .

Peter Brannen is a huge nerd and a problem solver (and he referenced two of my other favorite people, Randall and Neil!). Like he says on page 130, I believe it is important to see the planet not as your world or my world, but as a planet. Operating on geological time, functioning as a whole. Seems obvious. Isn’t. I guess I love Peter so much because he is rare. He sees the planet as the whole that it is. He is both kind and smart, something you don’t often see. He recognizes the importance of the ocean, penis worms, and you and I.

And this is to remind you what he looks like.

 I ended up searching Dinotopia on Google Images. My favorite fictional kingdom is Britain as it appears in the Harry Potter series, but Dinotopia looks very cool. I might like to visit there if I could.

 

Throwing My Hat Into The Ring

Date: October 13th, 2017

Hewlett-Packard, also known as HP, teamed up with Launch Forth to create a series of challenges and projects. These challenges and projects ask people to design vehicles, architecture, and infrastructure to be used on Mars.

This is the challenge I chose: https://launchforth.io/hpmars/mars-valley-urbanization-concept-challenge/brief/

And this is my entry: The Domes And The Library

This is a first draft. My first draft that follows all regulations and guidelines. It is a precursor to something much grander, something that will over evolve over time. I sent it in on a deadline, and I hand-drew it to give it an “organic” feel.

Although rudimentary, my entry is charming, and I did my research. I drew inspiration from multiple sources and cited them. I might not win, but it is not guaranteed I will lose. My entry is worth sharing, and I certainly hope that through it, Hewlett-Packard, and the others watching the challenges be completed by people all over, can see my untapped – and tapped – potential.

I will continue expanding my Mars plans whether or not my submission becomes known through them. On the subject of Hewlett-Packard, I am completely neutral.

I am not done designing and writing for Mars. Design is not stagnant. There will be many sketches, many first drafts, many final drafts, many essays, many stories, many updates to come. Interior design is perpetual. Architecture is perpetual. Learning is perpetual. My Mars plan is fluid in nature. I will never pretend to know everything, and I will never pretend I’m a scientist. I am an artist and writer and constant student and baker and doodler. I will post my plans on my blog.

This is me tossing my hat into the Martian ring. Elon Musk, Lockheed Martin, countless other relatively older white men with – er – unique names have already revealed plans and made a name for themselves. It’s my turn. If I may remind you, I’m not that impressive right now. But “me right now” is a young agender/genderfluid female who’s still in high school. Not many people are that impressive at my age, and those that are simply get even more impressive as they get older and their accomplishments increase. My Mars plan right now hasn’t even taken off with a running start yet. I’m just beginning my journey now, and I’m hoping you’ll follow it. One day, if life works well enough to bring me success at at least this, I will be one of the names you think of in reference to who will bring Mars a little closer in the sky.

My Martian playlist (I love using music to express my feelings!):

My Martian Pinterest board:

https://www.pinterest.com/zmkf/zmkfs-mars-plan-inspiration-and-references/

Mini Blog Post: Godlike

This is a reactionary opinion piece. The only reason I’m posting this is because it’s too long for an Instagram caption.

Date: July 27th, 2017

This is the thing I’m reacting to: “Scientists are pushing wild climate hacking scenarios to save the planet” via ScienceAlert

They call it climate hacking, I call it owning up to the godlike power we have. Humans are pretty cool. We’ve built deep into this planet with our sewers and our mines and our pipelines, learned how to fly and refrigerate food and drink, and mapped planets we haven’t set our own feet on. These are things we take for granted, of course. But those who say – and I paraphrase many a famous quote here – that humans are an atom’s way of studying atoms are correct. We’ve been somehow blessed to be able to learn. And the more we know, the more we can manipulate. REMINDERS ABOUT “CLIMATE HACKING”: ⚔️ 1. This is not a one time thing. Gods have to work hard, especially if it turns out they’re actually human and “unforeseen consequences” are a thing. The more we manipulate, the more good – or bad – we can do for ourselves and for the planet. But the more we do…certain things will create domino effects. Once we take responsibility for the earth as the superpowered parasites-turned-engineers we are, we can’t ever “take a break.” You will have to deal with a problem, and then you will have to deal with a problem caused by your solution. Which is not to say all we will ever cause is problems. But we need to communicate and accept in preparation for this huge undertaking. God may be dead, but if he ever lived, he never stopped being God. ? 2. Humans are animals. We are apart of nature. We happen to be the part of nature that can “detach” from it for most of our lifetimes, but we all must return sometimes. (I choose nature documentaries and traveling a lot as some sort of salve.) In taking responsibility for this planet, we must realize that the rest of the animals (and plants and stuff) are just as important as we are. I’m not even talking going vegetarian. (Shmeat is a thing meat lovers can turn to in a few years. It’ll take a while to go commercial. And don’t diss shmeat. It ain’t plant-based, and it ain’t fake. It’s the same thing. Just way less cruel. Look it up.) Right now, animals’ intelligences are compared to ours, and most animals are judged by how well they respond to our cues and directions. We must learn, one day we will (hopefully), that all animals are equal. We must learn that animals are worth more than the money we spend trying to keep them out of our cities. When we become gods, it’s the animals who will guide us. ❄️ 3. If we are to do this, we have to do this right. We can manipulate without micromanaging. We can love without breeding dependence.

I Am With You, France, No Matter Where I Choose To Live

Date: June 5th, 2017

Emmanuel Macron put this on his Facebook four days ago:

In pulling the U.S out of the Paris Accord, Trump quickly went from douchebag to dangerous. This is not a series of jokes. This is a series of hard blows against our integrity, safety, and capacity for compassion. And this is a big deal. A big, scary deal. Let yourself get scared by this. You are afraid because you are aware, and because you aware, you have the power to fix these problems, however daunting they are.

But the funny thing is, the worse it gets, the better my outlook is.

These are just the first few results I got from Googling “companies and mayors paris agreement:”

1. Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord

2. PressTV-US cities, states, companies commit to Paris accord

3. US states and businesses will still meet Paris targets | Environment | The Guardian

4. Which Cities Have Pledged To Follow The Paris Agreement? Over 150 Mayors Have Agreed

(Please actually look at these links. I try to write about some good stuff, but I don’t know everything, so I cite people who know more than little old me. It’s educational, guys.)

This is happening, guys, gals, and non-binary pals.

Trump screwed up, and now, maybe because it falls on us no matter whether we accept it or not, we are taking charge. And then there’s my man Macron. He knows that the current President of the United States only represents a small but loud group whose headquarters lies in Trump’s hairy, wrinkly, orange armpit. He knows most U.S citizens share something powerful with most French citizens…and most Indian citizens, and most Chinese citizens, and most Japanese citizens, and most German citizens. There are going to be bad, sucky, horrendous people everywhere. No country is perfect. Not even Sweden. (However, Sweden is willing to admit it.) But there are also going to be good and great, innovative, kind people everywhere. Macron’s favorite type of person. Everywhere. Regardless of age, race, culture, sex and sexual orientation. It is all fine and nice to be patriotic, and it is wonderful to let the borders dissolve when we need to. Countries can be countries. We don’t have to try and build a world government (that would be disastrous). But countries and nations can and should work together without spite, because it is not the government or reputation that matters, it is the people. Every country holds people worthy of love within it. Not one country is better than another, not in that way.

The French spirit is the Brazilian spirit and the Morrocan spirit and the American spirit and the Bulgarian spirit and the Kenyan spirit and the British spirit. Because the best people share it no matter where they are. We are not our worst: The KKK, ISIL, Boko Haram, the Nazis – nope. And we are not our dictators. Saudi Arabia, the U.S, Russia…we pride ourselves on our best because we are forced to. We are not who is in charge.

Which brings me to Macron’s offer.

He asks the scientists, engineers, and designers of the U.S, the innovators fighting climate change in a sea of bullshit and hate, to come to work and live in France.

My point isn’t that I am not going to go to France ever. My point is that I am probably not going to France anytime soon.

I am a writer and designer, and I hope to own a bed-and-breakfast when I am older, so I may write and design when I want to as opposed to on a deadline. With that in mind, I can be relocated nearly anywhere, as long its pretty enough to support a cutesy bed-and-breakfast. And it is not as though I do not like France. I have never been there, but I have learned about the country from my French language class and – *sighs* – Google. It is very aesthetically pleasing, the schools are – generally – better, and they are prepared to deal with global warming. “As in the UK, France has adopted a series of carbon budgets with the first three running 2015-2018, 2019-2023 and 2024-2028. To meet its 2050 target the country needs to cut 9-10 megatonnes of carbon dioxide every year says the report, and cut energy emissions 96% by mid century.” From France delivers 2050 climate plan to UN.

But even though I can easily be picked up and plopped down somewhere else, there are still things I cannot control that keep me here. My parents need to be in Los Angeles for their work. Not only that. My school is here. And while the French education system might be better, this particular school I go to is one I’d miss. It is not traditional, very open, relaxed, and filled to the brim with use and value. How do you take a school with you on a plane? One of my favorite teachers just retired, but there are the students too, and my remaining wonderful teachers. My best friend moved away to Napa, and the other’s always busy – but Napa’s easier to visit than France! (Unless I kidnapped her and took her with me.) Then there’s my other friends, slowly becoming besties. I can’t make anybody move just because I want to. I suppose this is decision making, weighing the things in your life to help you decide what to do. But the decision isn’t only mine. As I may have mentioned, I have two parents I can’t get rid of until at least college. Each with their own lives, friends they won’t want to move away from, careers. Not too mention – we like our house. My house is a good one.

And then there’s the whole guilt/anger factor to moving away to “escape Trump.” Read: Movers And Shakers.

There is much to think about.

But if you do move, France is a great place to move to!

Maybe my family and I will move to France in a year. Two and a half years. Four years, after Trump is out of office anyways. Maybe we’ll move to Singapore, or Barcelona, or a part of Croatia. Maybe we’ll stay in the U.S.

But wherever we are, we will stand with France.

It is not one President we are fighting. It is a lack of progress. So whether you fight in the U.S or overseas, you are fighting with peace and love, and that is what matters.

I will stand with you, France. Stand with me?

#makeourplanetgreatagain

#vivelarevolutionforearth

Good luck, everybody.

It’s Not My Fault That I’m Optimistic About The Future!

Date: May 28th, 2017

The difference between daydreams and visions is that with one, you’re hallucinating.

There’s a lot going on right now. As John Oliver (whom I simultaneously think of as both the father I never had and the son I want) constantly stresses, each Trump headliner hides something even more sinister underneath its fifteen-second fame. This is not normal. And as I and many others have mentioned before, it is not just Trump – Trump is simply the amplifier. This is what we have to remember, getting rid of him will not magically solve all of our problems, but it will confuse and damage the ego of those currently being amplified, which will certainly make room for progress.

However, there’s an insane amount of obstacles in our way, the very least of which is a man who never ever gets in trouble no matter what he does or says. There is always some justification given to us. Between Trump and all the other problems we face, it’s hard to imagine that there could ever be a sunny day.

Yet even now, I have very specific, very positive daydreams about what the future will hold. And I don’t even try. They just are there for me to look at and hope for. Right now, I shall tell all of you about each daydream and how it could correspond to realistic progress:

1. The Frozen Yogurt Stop

The daydream always begins in a medium-size courtyard. Look forward, you see small trees – palm trees and Japanese maple – and benches everywhere. Look up and around, you see we are on a hillside, crowded with natural vegetation. Blue sky. The plants are relatively lush, but present a lighter green than most plants thought of as “lush,” such as the ones on the sides of freeways in New York, Washington, and Wisconsin. Look to the right, and you see a train stop. Fairly modern architecture. Open to the air. A basic white, block-like design with stripes and polka-dots added on in just the right size and amount for color. There’s only enough space for two trains right next to each other. One train is waiting. It is white, with blue and pink stripes flowing front to back. One of the wider blue stripes has the name of the train system on it: Dragons Of The Midwest. There is owl and eyeball art on the wall defining the barriers of the stop. Look to the left, and across the platform, you see an ice cream/frozen yogurt shop. It is narrow but wide, with its own seating area. The colors are blue and pink, again, but pastel this time. Flavors include vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry.

Correspondence: I have to talk about California, it’s where I live. And California actually gives us a good example of regional transport – there is a project coming up to spread high-speed rail throughout the state. The project “will eventually encompass over 800 miles of rail, with up to 24 stations. Because the project is so large, and will run through areas of the state with extremely different geographical, environmental and economic issues, the project has been broken into ten separate sections.” (From http://www.hsr.ca.gov.) Each section has to go through ecological “footprint” testing before construction can begin. The total project goes from Sacramento, and the Transbay Transit Center on a separate train line, down to San Diego. Impressive. But I said the Dragons operated in the Midwest. Turns out, there is an equivalent – actually, two: the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. Both are Midwestern train organizations set up to become major players in the U.S transport game, even as it evolves. Trains are thought to be the most environmentally conscious transportation option, and environmental consciousness is still rare in many states. The latter of the two is aptly tag-lined “Reinventing Travel. Reinventing The Midwest.” So guys – it’s your move! – get some fro-yo up in there.

2. The Spreadcity

The daydream starts up high, in an invisible helicopter (that is totally not realistic). We are slowly panning over one of those four-leaf-clover highway loops. The highway is an interstate highway, and right now, we are between northern Nevada, Idaho, and Utah – in Idaho, exactly. The highway has made minimal negative impact on the plain it lays over due to the way it was designed. The flowing golden grass gives the whole thing a shimmery effect. The city is essentially a rural county, but everything is modern and connected by bike paths and sleek, small roads. There should be at least one mile of natural space for every building. The only buildings right next to the highway are hospitals, malls, and one huge school that looks like a university except it functions for all grades.

Correspondence: Most of Idaho is already open country, so if one wanted to found a spreadcity, all they would need to do is connect a soon-to-be-not-county – anywhere, really – and create a system by which transportation is quick and efficient, and the governmental buildings and larger parks and service-buildings form a spreadcity center.

3. Sittyhils

Sittyhils are an original idea of mine – a particular type of arcology. The etymology of the word is “city + hill + fun way of spelling = sittyhil.” Sittyhils are basically huge cities, compacted and opened at different areas so they form a mountain-like structure. The idea was formed because I was thinking about Barcelona as it is described in this article: Built-Out Barcelona Makes Space for an Urban Forest. I was delighted, and began to wonder – what if some cities were made with this attitude in mind? What if cities no longer displaced wildlife, what if they just lifted it up? Bushes in the windows and on apartment decks, flowers on the outer walls. Cities are as tall as hills at their core, why not become hills? So dense, but so ecologically stable and positive, that it literally becomes Figure 1 – big, green, and gnarly.

Figure 1: Is this a bad drawing? Yes, yes it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correspondence: Barcelona is already doing a very good job of minimizing its negative environmental impact and encouraging biodiversity, as I mentioned. So is Singapore, with its National Biodiversity Centre, and Gardens By The Bay, and then there’s this: “We have recorded a total of 392 species of birds and at least 2,100 native vascular plants, of which more than 1,500 species are classified as extant in Singapore. Find out more about our Wildlife in Singapore and learn about the different Ecosystems that exist in Singapore.” (From https://www.nparks.gov.sg/biodiversity.) And just 1 day ago from the time of writing, the Straight Times reported that “NParks announced that over 500 species were discovered or rediscovered over the last five years in joint surveys with nature groups. The agency has also put the afterburners on its Species Recovery Programme, increasing the number of species to 94, up from 46 last year.” Cooooooool. Coincidentally (or not), Singapore and Barcelona are now my two favorite cities. I want to clone myself and send one of me to each city.

Everyone has dreams about what the future will be like. They hope, and hope is good, but they hope, thinking that it is hoping that will make the thing happen. We need more.

Here’s how I like to think of this type of situation.

You are standing in an empty plot of land. There is rope in front of you, going up into nowhere. You reach out and touch the rope, and suddenly you see visions of your dream house, the one to be built on that plot of land. Instead of standing there touching the rope, letting the visions cloud your senses, pull the rope down. It is taking a huge risk, something that is confirmed when you hear a huge crash as dimensions collide and your house becomes what is there. Instead of it floating up there in a cloud, you brought it down into the grit and crust and mantle. But it is worth it, for the house is just as wonderful as you knew it would be, and you were not inactive. You pulled down your rope.

Find your daydreams of the future.

Pull down your rope.

Make it happen.

The Futuristic World: There Are Two Options Left For Us, As Far As I Can Tell

Date: February 21th, 2017

The Futuristic World: The world of the future will be a complex one, regardless of whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Technology – a big pixelated hand of man created to do what man wants, evolving before our very eyes – and nature – the elements of the universe, or multiverse, the never-blank slate we were born into and have been toying with ever since, the illusion of a God, the methodology of being born to run and made to work – must find a perfect equilibrium for Homo sapiens (and the other species born on Earth, as they are no less important) to survive. We must help that process.    

According to http://ridesharechoices.scripts.mit.edu, “carpooling first became prominent in the United States as a rationing tactic during World War II. It returned in the mid-1970s due to the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis. At that time the first employee vanpools were organized at Chrysler and 3M.” (Exact phrasing of the information presented taken from the Wikipedia page “Carpool.”)

Carpool lanes, as a concept, were accepted world-wide for two reasons.

1. Everybody hates traffic.

2. To cut carbon emissions.

The latter is kind of a big deal, because everyone has carpool lanes in their cities, even in the South of the United States.

Carpool lanes do help cut carbon emissions, not by much, but it’s the little things that count, and we’ve packaged them as something that everybody can enjoy, even those who don’t believe global warming is a real problem! Everybody hates traffic. Emphasis on everybody. The pill in the peanut butter is a tactic my mom uses to feed my dog her medicine. My dog needs the medicine, but she sure as hell doesn’t like it. This is how we fix the world. Think about Republicans, conservatives – people who stereotypically deny the truth. (This isn’t a behavior all Republicans have in common.) Democrats and liberals do it too, except it is more insidious, because they’re supposed to be “correct.” Ask an average Southerner if they’re willing to do anything about global warming, racism, or gun control, and you are sure to get a “Expletive no, you expletive expletive.” People like this are so stuck in their ways that the only way to get them to help – and with the bigger problems, we need everybody working to solve them – is to trick them.

We are in dire need of solutions.

The Doomsday Clock is a scientifically accepted method for predicting when the world will end.

This is the timeline: Doomsday Clock Timeline.

Yep – two minutes (two and a half minutes, actually) left. (It would do you some good to research this “clock” extensively, it’s very educational, and surprisingly hopeful, in the sense that they believe taking action would help at all.) The factors the clock counts include nuclear weaponry, climate change, and bio-security. “Two minutes” left on this clock isn’t literally 120 seconds, but it’s still plenty worrisome, as it was 17 minutes to midnight in only 1995 – this clock doesn’t necessarily rely on time. Instead, it calculates risk. The closer to midnight, the bigger chance of disaster striking at any moment. (See the Doomsday Dashboard for the main information the clock uses for its calculations.) The clock isn’t always accurate, but almost nothing is, and this is one of the most reliable sources in the world, created by top scientists, some of whom worked on the Manhattan project.

This clock shouldn’t paralyze you with fear.

It is the inaction of being paralyzed, by any feeling – fear, sadness, rage, embarrassment – that is the true danger. If these problems deter you emotionally, you should work even harder to solve them, rather than retiring into nonintervention.

We’ve got two main options left, if we want to re-wind the clock:

1. A “City Of Ember” (written by Jeanne DuPrau) thing. Move underground. Destroy the aboveground power plants, dams, and cities, and leave the Earth to the animals, plants, and weather patterns for at least 200 years. Come back out when the time is right, and begin again.

2. A massive change to the way people think. Less procrastination. Less complacency. More thinking, more doing. Kindness and intelligence being priorities. Weird ideas – attaching microbes to fish teeth so fish can eat materials found in trash, maglev trains, apps meant to maximize philosophical thinking – that are so “far out” they just might work.

REWIND THE CLOCK.

The Futuristic World: Man-man Islands?

The Futuristic World: The world of the future will be a complex one, regardless of whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Technology – a big pixelated hand of man created to do what man wants, evolving before our very eyes – and nature – the elements of the universe, or multiverse, the never-blank slate we were born into and have been toying with ever since, the illusion of a God, the methodology of being born to run and made to work – must find a perfect equilibrium for Homo sapiens (and the other species born on Earth, as they are no less important) to survive. We must help that process.    

Date: January 26th, 2017

Man-made islands are not a new thing.

According WorldAtlas.com, ”Island construction dates back to pre-historic times in ancient Egypt, Ireland, Scotland, and Mexico.” They can be so small and relatively easy to make that they look primitive (the “Uros Islands,” see Figure 1), or so large and complex that it appears their only application is science fiction (the Palm Jumeirah, see Figure 2).

Figure 1. A picture of one of the Islas Uros.

The Islas Uros were created with people, basic tools, and buoyant totora reeds. The Palm Jumeirah was created with your usual, more modern set: a mixture of soil and sand, wood, metal – probably steel and aluminum, stone, etc.

The Manlands (my word for “man-made islands”) all have the bare necessities in common:

Figure 2. Palm Jumeirah…no, I’m pretty sure that’s actually the long-lost city of Atlantis. Just look at it.

– Reason for being off the mainland (with the Islas Uros, it probably had something to do with convenience for the fishing communities, and for Palm Jumeirah – well, they probably just though it was cool. They’re not wrong).

– Food and water. By which I mean, all manlands have an efficient delivery/farming/storing system for food and water. If your manland doesn’t have at least one of the three (having all three would be the best situation), permanent residence will provide serious problems.

– Satisfactory housing. Of course, the “satisfaction” level is all relative, so in this context I speak of the housing methods most satisfactory to the people living on that particular manland.

Beyond the bare necessities, one manland and another have about as much in common as a pig and a banana.

Even though manlands aren’t exactly new, they could be used for new purposes. The motors to keep the manland afloat if it is “free” from the ground, and to move it if the creators ever desire that, could – with the proper design – also serve as water turbines. The turbines would power the manland and its motors (movement causes more movement, don’t you know?), as well as sending power back to the nearest islands/manlands/mainland. Manlands could also serve as low-cost, high-density farms, hydroponic or otherwise, hubs for trade, and the most “basic” application: population holders…that’s an official name for it, but you know, it’s “where people live.”

Or, I suppose you could create a manland and make it your own little world. That’s more than enough. Sometimes, creative people don’t fit into a category like “fashion designer” or “sculptor.” Sometimes, creative people yearn to be “world creator.” (Think landscaper, architect, and artist all in one.) If manlands become a trend, white people won’t have to colonize the little worlds we find, we’ll be able to make our own! (That was…a joke. But that would be true. It might get us closer to world peace.) And there are ways to make sure these manlands help the environment rather than hinder it.

Manlands created by governments/companies/private individuals could make a deal with their retrospective countries/nations: Manlands could pledge allegiance, and they would be able to remain independent – eg. marijuana not illegal “at home” but legal on manland – but the country/nation would help the manland if the manland needed help, and in return the manlands would be counted in the population – including voting for the leader of the country/nation, and any ideas/technology developed or perfected on the manlands would be available on their country/nation for a much lower price, which should be valuable enough, as the “mini-socieities” are sure to be filled with geniuses.

Manlands created by governments/companies/private individuals could also have a shared “Manland” government, in which they would share ideas, supplies including technologies, whatever they used as money, etc, and help each other out militarily and politically when the time comes.