his present means to obtain some future apparent good.
He defines good as things that are of interest to any particular person for his appetite or desires.
For him, there are two types of power- natural and instrumental. Natural power is the ability of a person’s body or mind such as extraordinary strength, prudence, arts, eloquence, liberality and nobility while Instrumental power is the power derived from natural power or fortune through which one can acquire more riches, reputation, friends and luck.
A more contemporary definitions of such power of men are:
power is the capacity of an individual to influence the actions, beliefs, or conduct (behaviour) of others
power is the ability to make people do what they otherwise would not have done
power is man’s control over the minds and actions of other men.
Placing the control definition of power in Hobbes’ definition, we get:
every form of natural and instrumental power is used to exert control over other people which then is used to obtain the good for the self.
Adding these descriptions, we get:
Power is the control over others as means to obtain the good for the self.
Where, the means (two types of power) in the Hobbesian sense is used to control the mind and the actions of others.
Control over others is the ultimate end. The most effective tool for this apparently is money. The use of money ultimately then is to manipulate others into doing things for the manipulator, because, everyone needs or wants money. Like a magnet manipulating iron pieces.
It is clear that control over the ones with most control will be the most effective.
I am interested to know what else derives power apart from money.
Having servants and friends is power because they make us stronger.
Having the reputation of power is power because it attracts those who need protection
Having popularity (reputation of patriotism) is power because it too attracts those who need protection
Having the quality to loved or feared by many or merely the reputation of such is power because through it one can have assistance and service of many
Good success is power because it creates a reputation of wisdom or fortune which makes men fear or rely
Relationship with men in power is power because it gains love
Reputation of prudence during peace or war is power because to a prudent man we all surrender ourselves easily than to others
Eloquence is power because it is ‘seeming prudence’ in other words, it looks like prudence
Form is power because it recommends men to the favor of women and strangers
Sciences are small power because it is present in few- in few. It is not understood by many.
Military Technology is power because they are used in defense and victory
Now, looking at all these points from the control perspective,
Having servants and friends surely implies having control. Control over servants is apparent. Control over friends exists in the form of mutual-wants, love, trust, bonding, whatever for which a friend can be manipulated into doing things for the manipulator
Having the reputation of power makes other people with less power, fearful or hopeful towards you. You can surely control those easily who are afraid or in-need.
Having popularity (fame) makes people with less popularity in awe, fearful and hopeful towards you. The reason there is control through popularity is that people tend to be more attentive towards those who are well-known which makes it easier to manipulate. Popularity can be of two types: a. positive b. negative. But I see one more factor. Popularity seems proportional to money. As it is easier to make money for a popular person than it is for an unpopular one.
Having the quality to be loved or feared by many or merely the reputation of such- is the same as above.
Good success brings control over those who yearn for success or more success. One way is through lessons of success, the other through the availability of fortune.
Relationship with men in power brings automatic control over others by the virtue of the relationship itself which makes other believe one is capable of influencing the powerful.
Reputation of prudence brings control through intellectual means. Other people will hear more and follow easily the people who are deemed to be prudent.
Eloquence, as described by Hobbes as ‘seeming prudent’ brings control for the same reason as above.
Form, by which Hobbes means appearance, brings control over those who get impressed by it.
In regards to Sciences, I believe they bring power if they can influence the powerful.
Control through Military Technology is self-explanatory.
Now, if we are to see how modern power-players have acquired their powers, we can make some interesting observations.
I see two large power entities today:
States acquire their power, that is, their control over others as means to obtain the good for the self, by firstly, controlling (or owning) the elements like food, water, electricity, etc. that are of necessity for every citizen. In other words, they control the means needed for survival itself. Secondly, they control citizens through the citizens allegiance to the general-will. This sensitivity and vulnerability allows the State to use Force. Every other control that the state exerts is based on these controls. Everything else is a business from the state side. Hobbes considered this power of the state (commonwealth) to be the greatest of human powers as it is the
compounded power of most men, united by consent
Corporates meanwhile, acquire their power, that is, their control over others as means to obtain the good for the self, by controlling (or owning) the elements that are of necessity and want to its customers. Of course, the corporations that business on elementary things have the most power. Not all fundamentals are state controlled in all the places.
Due to the meteoric rise of technologies, another tool has quickly become one of the most effective means of control: Surveillance.
Surveillance is used by both states and corporations. While this tool can be said to have been always used by both the entities, before the advent of our modern technologies, it was vague, impractical and very difficult to implement. Today, we can see both entities investing and vying for more and more surveillance data.
Surveillance brings control because it provides the surveillant with valuable knowledge as to who, how, when and where to control.
Surveillance then is the shortcut to the Morgenthau definition of power.
Who are powerful today?
Let’s talk about 3 major powers
The ones who control our fundamental necessities like security, food, water and electricity are surely the most powerful. This includes states and corporations which business on such elements.
After them are the ones who control our livelihoods and means of living.
Those two are followed by ones who control our information, hence, our mind, habits and behavior.
What is Power?
Power is the magnitude of control over others as means to obtain the good for the self.
This magnitude of control is dependent on peoples fundamental requirements as well as wants. It is like a control knob which every single person in this world has. It’s all about whether we are conscious of being controlled and willing enough to not be controlled—– or not!
A city can be defined as a geographical area which is compact, immensely interconnected and is urbanized. That is, it is modernly administered, uses and consumes advanced laws, systems, technology and infrastructure.
Our current crisis of Climate Change has some thinkers and even the United Nations proposing the idea that cities are the ideal construction that can help us overcome this crisis.
This makes it a perfect occasion to look at few of the great developments in cities in human history.
The process of knowing the history of cities involves scientific processes that are ongoing in nature. Archaeology is the most vital tool available for us to understand and know things of the ancient world. Especially of the time-period which has no written work to tell. It looks to unearth materials which are interpreted and placed in the most suitable time-period of its belonging. As new things get discovered, new light is thrown into the once unknown period and area.
With all this definition in mind. Let us see how cities have evolved.
The region of Levant is very important for archaeology. It was in Jericho of this region where the oldest known protective wall, the wall of Jericho, has been found. Along with this a stone tower has also been unearthed.
Archaeological evidence reveals that by 8000 BCE, the site grew to 40,000 square meters (430,000 square feet) and was surrounded by a stone wall 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) high and 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) wide at the base. Inside the wall was a stone tower 8.5 meters (28 feet) high and 9 meters (30 feet) wide at the base. The tower had an internal staircase with 22 steps
The hypothesis behind the wall is that it may have been built to protect its settlement from flood waters. The tower may have served some kind of ceremonial purpose. Some are also of the idea that the tower served the function of motivating people into the communal lifestyle as there have been suggestions that a population of some 2,000–3,000 persons were living there. But this varies as some estimate the population to be as low as 300. But nonetheless, Jericho is a concrete evidence on the movement of the human race from a hunting way of life to a one of full settlement.
Jericho has also provided evidence of agriculture. It has to be noted that, although modern cities tend to detach from agricultural pursuits, during the time leading up to Jericho, humans were still in a nomadic state. Hence, Jericho signifies not only the most distant evidence of a city but also of an organized settled living system.
Wheat and barley is thought to have been cultivated. It is highly probable that irrigation had also been invented.
Jericho’s settlement occurred in two phases. The one mentioned above was followed by a second settlement at around 7000 BCE. It too was a Pre-Pottery Neolithic in its nature. It expanded the range of domesticated plants and animals. Its buildings were rectilinear in structure and were made of mudbricks. Each building had several rooms and a central courtyard. Terrazzo floors made of lime decorated the rooms while the courtyards had clay flooring. Dishes and bowls were used. This phase of settlement lasted until about 6000 BCE. Towards the end of 5000 BCE, another urban settlement appeared in Jericho. It was walled yet again.
While Jericho ebbed-and-flowed, a massive city flourished in Mesopotamia where one of the earliest precursors to modern human life was found. It was where writing originated, and all kinds of technological, legal and moral basis of a collective urban life initiated. The city was Uruk.
Uruk was inhabited from its inception until c. 300 CE. after which it was abandoned and buried. It was excavated in 1853 CE. It used cylinder seals for attesting personal property and documents. It had monumental mud-brick buildings. Large sculptures and metal casting was done. Pictographs on clay tablets were used to record the management of goods and workers.
5000 BP (before present), Uruk had ~50,000 people. At its peak, it may have had around 80,000 inhabitants.The Ubaid Period (c. 5000-4100 BCE) saw Ubaid people first inhabit the region. This period is followed by the Uruk Period (4100-2900 BCE) during which cities started developing in various regions of Mesopotamia. Among which, Uruk became the most important.
The Uruk Period is divided into 8 phases but it was most influential between 4100-c.3000 BCE. It was during this time that
The city was divided into Eanna District and Anu District.
The Eanna District was walled off from the rest of the city. Anu district had a single massive terrace, called the Anu Ziggurat which was dedicated to the Sumerian sky god Anu. In the Uruk III period, a white temple was built on top of the ziggurat. From the Uruk VI period, a Stone Temple has been discovered.
Uruk continued to be relevant through the Ur III Period (2047-1750 BCE),
In 1922 CE, during an excavation of the ruins in that region, ‘The Great Death’ was discovered, which was a grave complex. Further studies revealed that in its heyday, Ur was a city enormous in size.
It used Cuneiform tablets which has allowed us to know that Ur was a highly centralized, wealthy and bureaucratic state during the third millenium BCE. The Royal Tombs, from about the 25th century BCE, contained,
Ur may have been the largest city in the world from 2030-1980 BCE, with a population of about 65,000.
Probably founded by farmer settlers from northern Mesopotamia, from the very beginning, it became a location of importance as a trade center as it was located at a point where the Tigris and Euphrates run into the Persian Gulf.
The city began to grow from a small village ruled by a priest or priest-king. There were two major dynasties: of Mesanneppada, the first king who was followed by three others: Mes-kiagnuna, Elulu, and Balulu. The Second Dynasty is not recorded and the history of which is not known.
When the Semitic leader Sargon (2334-2279 BCE) conquered the entire Sumerian land with his people the Akkadians, the Akkadian Empire ruled over the regions of Mesopotamia until it was inundated by Amorites who made their capital in a small town called Babylon. Which began the first Babylonian Empire.
The ziggurat of Ur, the temple, was built in the 21st century BCE. The ruins were uncovered in the 1930s which covered an area of 3,900 feet by 2,600 feet. It was a part of a complex that was an administrative center for the city.
End of Part 1
In this first part of our series of Short History of Cities, we talked about Jericho, Uruk and Ur. Although there have been evidence of multiple cities in the course of time in Jericho and other smaller ones around Uruk and Ur; these three stand tall on the basis of evidence gathered and the impact made.
Each should have inspired the city that followed and they collectively must have been very influential in not just the developments of cities as greatest technological achievements, but also in the development and progress of human species as a whole.
I am going to propose a theory to begin this writing about the importance of knowledge:
The extent of knowledge (need-to-know) any given human society requires for a successful survival is of:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its
the past, present, and future of itself
Likewise, the extent of knowledge (need-to-know) any given human society requires for progress is of:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its own and of the world
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
In primitive nomadic days, any tribe that may have pursued and acquired geographical-temporal knowledge of itself may have survived but failed as soon as it could no longer keep up with and acquire geographical, temporal and likewise knowledge of other tribes it came across.
The tribes and states which could gather and analyze the most knowledge succeeded the most. A good example of this is the success of Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire:
Is it merely a coincidence that such large an empire existed alongside one of the most intellectual and knowledgeable periods of human history?
While we are at it, the importance of such knowledge can also be justified by the fact that Kautilya who emphasized a great lot in socio-economic-political knowledge and pursued it rigorously managed to initiate and assist what was to become one of the biggest Empires in the Indian Subcontinent — The Maurya Empire.
Similar examples can be gathered from the Roman and later from the success of the British Empire. In the second half of the 20th Century, it became visible in the form of the US and its successful hunt of all forms of knowledge.
What kind of knowledge?
The correct modern term for knowledge is — Research and Development.
I talked about Geographical and Temporal knowledge of itself and the world that a successful society acquires. NASA, NSF and DoD seem to be responsible for such information. They take up 27.6 % of the total R & D budget.
Similar is the case of acquiring — knowledge of itself. Health and human service department takes up 47.3 %.
Here’s a list of ten nations that spend the most on R & D:
Israel: 4.9 % of GDP
South Korea: 4.6
In terms of total expenditure amount, it’s in the following order (descending):
US, China, Japan, Germany, S Korea, France, India, UK, Taiwan, Russia
Of course, the type and method of their knowledge-acquisition is different but at the end of the day it’s about getting the information of:
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
for the political entities that support them by either investing in them or paying them.
From an individual point of view, it is apparent that pursuing knowledge is beneficial for financial, mental and physical health.
From a financial point of view, generating knowledge for sectors that receive maximum financial attention is sure to increase the chance of earning higher. For example, for the department of health and human services in the chart above.
From mental and physical health point of view, and their progress, just replace geography by physical and society by individual in the following:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its own and of the world
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
Here I am, in the 21st century (A.D.) living in Nepal. One of the poorest nations in the world. Yet, writing in one of the most advanced writing platforms about the importance of knowledge in the context of the past and future of humanity and the world; using one of the most sophisticated technologies in the world.
Why am I doing this?
Is it because I identify as a global citizen in this world or is it because I am trying to progress the nation I identify with: Nepal?
Knowledge has always been important and will continue to be so as long as humans will exist.
It is cliché to say that we live in an interconnected world where an impact in a certain part of the globe is felt throughout. But it is true.
COVID has proved it and so has Climate Change. So will upcoming crises.
We humans of today have come close to becoming one unit when it comes to suffering. We all are heading into domains, we are unfamiliar with:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its
the past, present, and future of itself
But now we are talking about:
computers that have their own personal identities (others)
our bodies that have been invaded by technologies (itself and others)
unknown zones with possibilities of unknown beings (it and other)
Hence, we do need to upgrade to:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its own and of the world
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
With the ‘world’ now including:
Our own mixed-bodies
This leaves us with two major considerations:
Just as in primitive nomadic days, any tribe that may have pursued and acquired geographical-temporal knowledge of itself may have survived but failed as soon as it could no longer keep up with and acquire geographical and likewise knowledge of other tribe it came across:
We humans of today, have to acquire more and more geographical, temporal knowledge of the Universe and of Artificial Systems and ourselves for our own security. We have to understand the importance of knowledge!
As we head into the unknown, we never know what will attack us next.
Similarly, ethical considerations also have to be made as to what we would want to be and become. And also how we would like to treat other beings.
We have never been in this place before. But we also have power like never before, therefore, responsibilities like never before.
We all need to know now like never before. That’s the importance of knowledge!
I have spent my entire life in Kathmandu. I more or less know how the seasons work here. But, this October has been unlike any other. It has been very hot and mosquitos are still buzzing.
Yes, I do consume a lot of Climate Change information and that may have influenced my outlook towards this year. But still, it’s mid-October and I am sweating and slapping myself! Didn’t I wear a sweater this time around last year? Weren’t the mosquitos gone along with the monsoon?
I want to know whether it’s always been this way and I have been exaggerating or is there something else to it!
A quick search on Google has revealed the current temperature (the time of this writing) of Kathmandu to be 29 °C.
At 9 AM this morning it was 31 °C.
I checked on a historical dataset tool and it showed that the temperature at 9:35 AM in October 13, 2010 was 23 °C and the weather was foggy. It showed the temperature at the same date and time to be 22 °C and 20 °C and foggy in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Further, at 9:35 in the morning in the 13th of October it showed:
19 °C and foggy in 2013
19 °C and foggy in 2014
21 °C and foggy in 2015
~ 21 °C with broken clouds in 2016
25 °C with scattered clouds in 2017
20 °C with broken cloud in 2018
21 °C with scattered clouds in 2019
25 °C with broken clouds in 2020
25 °C with passing clouds in 2021
It has been more or less around the same temperature at around 9 in the morning as per this tool.
I clearly was stupid to be wearing a sweater this time last year.
I then cross-checked with this tool. It showed weather from the TIA radar. It showed:
At 9:35 in the morning in the 13th of October:
79 °F or 26.1111 °C and partly cloudy in 2010
77°F or 25 °C and partly cloudy in 2011
73 °F or 22.7778 °C and fair in 2012
66°F or 18.8889 °C and cloudy in 2013
64°F or 17.7778 °C and light rain in 2014
72°F or 22.2222 °C and mostly cloudy in 2015
77 °F or 25 °C with mostly cloudy in 2016
79 °F or 26.1111 °C with partly cloudy in 2017
75 °F or 23.8889 °C and fair in 2018
75 ° F or 23.8889 °C and partly cloudy in 2019
79 ° F or 26.1111 °C with light rain in 2020
84 ° F or 28.8889°C and fair in 2021
This tool clearly shows that the temperature has been the highest in 2021 within the last 11 years.
Both tools show that 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017 and 2020 have been the warmest.
9:35 AM temperature in Kathmandu:
in 2000 was 79 ° F / 26.1111 ° C and partly cloudy
77 ° F/ 25 ° C in 2002 and partly cloudy
79 ° F / 26.1111 ° C and partly cloudy at around 8:35-10:15 AM in 2004
81 ° F / 27.2222 ° C and fair at 9:35 AM in 2005
81 ° F / 27.2222 ° C and partly cloudy in 2008
This looks something like this:
I am unsure of the reliability of the data available. But the rise in temperature I felt subjectively seems to be justified.
We saw data of two different sources and the curve more or less looks the same.
Biodiversity is a way of looking at biological varieties of any given space-time.
If I have 20 species of flowers in my garden then it means I have a biodiverse garden. On the other hand, if in the same location I have a concrete floor on which I stand alone with my cell-phone, then it means it’s not a very biodiverse situation.
Since Earth is the only known planet to have any kind of Biology let alone diversity, Biodiversity is used in Earth’s context.
The term “biodiversity” is a contraction of “biological diversity” or “biotic diversity”. These terms all refer to the idea of living variation, from genes and traits, to species, and to ecosystems. The popular contraction “biodiversity” came about in the mid-1980s, heralded by a symposium in 1986 and an influential follow-up book, Biodiversity (Wilson 1988). These events often are interpreted as the beginning of the biodiversity story, but this mid-1980s activity actually was both a nod to important past work, and a launching of something quite new, in ways not fully anticipated.
The diversity of biology on Earth is quite amazing if we think about it.
Roughly 8.7 million species of plants and animals are thought to be existing as of now. Now, that’s a lot of species!
What’s more, there are a lot more species to be discovered. Some are even of the opinion that we have not even properly begun sea-species exploration yet.
If we think about it, a species of any animal or plant signifies something very distinct to that particular species which is not found in any other and which makes it unnatural for it to blend with any other.
In other words, every species has a uniqueness to it.
We humans tend to get very haughty when it comes to our self-image, respect and all that. We are all unique in our own ways and have distinct individual traits. But we’re just one specie: ONE!
There are roughly 8.7 million other species just like us with each individual component distinct from other components of the same species. Just like in us. Now that is diversity. Variation!
What they do is, they take over 14,000 of the population time-series gathered from a variety of sources such as journals, online databases and government reports. After which, a modelling framework is used to determine the trend in population time-series. Rates of change are calculated and aggregated,
…Each species trend is aggregated to produce an index for the terrestrial, marine and freshwater systems. This process uses a weighted average method which places most weight on the largest (most species-rich) groups within a biogeographic realm. This is done to counteract the uneven spatial and taxonomic distribution of data in the LPD. The three system indices are then averaged to produce the global LPI.
There is another tool released by Natural History Museum in London:
I checked Nepal’s 2020-2050 BII with SSP 1 and this is what it showed:
Nepal seems somewhat resilient and functioning in SSP1. But the curve is slightly declining. Similar is the case with other SSPs.
Leading up to the UN Biodiversity Conference COP 15, there was a warning given by Prof. Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum in London. He said that biodiversity,
…is the foundation of our society. We’ve seen recently how disruptive it can be when supply chains break down – nature is at the base of our supply chains.
Causes of all this
HUMANS, once again Humans!
Plant and animal species around the world are currently threatened by nothing more so than by humans. Our requirements and subsequent activities such as:
Exploitation of natural resources
Depletion of natural resources
is responsible for this crisis.
Impact of biodiversity loss
Biodiversity is not just crucial because variations should exist for ethical, aesthetic reasons. Although those reasons are sufficient enough.
Depletion in biodiversity has a huge adverse impact in the overall ecosystem. Life on Earth is balanced by the interdependence of species on each other. Loss of any species can lead to negative effects on the whole system.
It is a very delicate balance. Predatory creatures losing their prey will also be in danger of extinction as they won’t be able to feed on any other.
All this can lead to serious collapse of the Earth’s ecosystem.
Along with this, there are obvious disadvantages to the human species. One is that diseases will spread. Nature has balanced everything in such a way that even her housekeeping is done by her organisms. A slight deviation in this can result in serious catastrophe to humankind.
Humans will also see dramatic change in their agriculture if this balance is disturbed, resulting in social and economic disadvantages.
There have been international initiatives to solve this crisis. These are the prominent ones:
World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), Conservation International, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), International Crane Foundation (ICF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Oceana.
But these international entities cannot function without cooperation from National and Public entities.
Biodiversity preservation also depends on two sets of actors:
At the National Level, the governments have to cooperate with Scientific and International agenda. Protection of species, habitats, anti-deforestation, overhunting and pollution, etc. has to be strictly followed.
At the public level, it’s all about making people aware of the crisis at hand and making biodiversity loss a normal subject of conversation among people such that people can understand what has to be done from their side. Almost everyone is responsible for over consumption, pollution, exploitation of resources, etc. so everyone has to wake up.
Awareness programs have to be greatly initiated. Public actors have to be active for this. General people are ignorant of these things. They have to be explained as to what is really going on.
My belief is that human beings will survive no matter what. Unless some cosmic catastrophe strikes. My sincere belief is that certain privileged human beings will survive no matter what. Man wants to survive. As Nietzsche said, human beings will do whatever it takes for the survival of its species.
Humans will move on from biodiversity loss as well. Perhaps towards techno-diversity. But, humans will survive.
The question is How? and with Whom? Alone or with other creatures?
How should humans survive?
This question is still out in the open for all of us to answer.
In terms of time, we humans are wired to dwell in two dimensions — the past and the future.
While ideally we wish we could live in the present, realistically we are drifting along time – where the wave of the past keeps stretching. Where the quantity of information from which we are supposed to constantly learn, build and identify is ever increasing. Where the distance to the end of our lives is ever shortening. We are supposed to fulfill or nullify whatever desires have dwelled in us since our birth in that duration.
This leaves us with only one thing to do — absorb ourselves in the past in order to carry over the thoughts, emotions and desires from there to the impending future.
Hence, present is the moment in which our minds dwell in either past or present. In this way, what is now called ‘flow’ is merely the moments where we engage in some activity during which our minds are unknowingly pacified because it knows it is involved in either rectifying some misdemeanors of the past or in acting for the fulfillment of some desire on the future.
As part of this project though, we tend to want to predict the occurences of the coming future. Which seems a natural thing to do. Our minds naturally identify the patterns of past haps and projects the outcomes of the future as per our environment, necessity and all. This process is called prognostication.
This holds true for all individual humans. Hence, as an example of whole-being-an-extension-of-the-parts, this holds true for humans as a species. The reason to study history, we are told, is to learn lessons from the past and apply them to understanding the future, which isn’t at all a false reason to study. But we have no formal study of prognostication or futurology yet. And it is understandable as the future is merely a vague nothingness into which we drift, filling that void as we go along in comparison to the past which is full of realistic information in the form of memories (cognitive or written or such). Future study is impossible as we are complex beings with complex sets of desires and complex technologies in a complex planet of a complex universe, all combining to create a whole and existence that is very very complex.
I just tend to imagine the faces of people in the hospitality sector in Nepal when they heard that COVID was about to shut everything up, who had meticulously planned for their hotels as the Tourism year 2020 was coming about.
Yet we are also beings that try and endeavor and through the lessons of history and the knowledge of the wills of governments, corporates and society we tend to fill pages of Science Fiction and devise mathematical formulas to make some educated guesses. Some of these projections do manage to get hold of us and shape our perceptions to such a degree that any thought of a mutual future and we cannot help but imagine the pictures presented by them. Two cliched futurological works — 1984 and Brave New World are the example of such projections. Both written in the 20th century, the paranoia created by them are real and the amazing thing is that we can find enough clues and symptoms to convince ourselves that the picture presented by Orwell and Huxley is becoming a reality and some of us even tend to make decisions of our lives based on those pictures. Their success hasn’t given birth to less futuristic perspectives through fiction, but I believe all of them have one thing in common:
Those pictures are flawed! What those pictures have done is present to us a futuristic projection of the world based on characteristics of people of that generation presuming the characters to be static. Yes, human characters rarely do change and rarely have the will-to-power and the extent to which certain ambitious people go to achieve and increase it varied since the advent of recorded history, something is different this time around. It is different to such an extent that residual images of the future have to be abandoned and something actual has to be done.
We are at a pivotal point in human history. This is a pivot because we are at a point where we probably have mutual decisions to make in the quantity that has existed never before. All thanks to exponential technologies (thanks Ray Kurzweil) almost all of which have epoch-altering potential (AI, 3D Print, BioTech, Energy, Outer Space vehicles, etc.) we have arrived at a juncture today where not only the decisions that impact all of us forever is to be made, for the first time in history, it is to be made by all of us. This leads to the statement that motivated me to write all this in the first place:
We are at a pivotal turn, where it is not the time to make predictions, it is a time to make decisions!
No, this isn’t some optimistic-pro-democratic BS which terminates with a cheesy line such as — Together we can, etc. etc., this is objective and this is real. How?
Because we have the internet. We are at a point where more than half of the people in the world are connected to a network in which they can exchange any kind of information at a crazy speed. This gives us an ability strange — so strange that the like of which has never existed in such a large scale before.
Humanity has always been ruled by itself but only by a certain part of itself in any given space-time. Those parts have come in the form of Religious leaders, Generals, Monarchs, Merchants, Corporates, Representative Politicians, depending on the time and place. But, what all these varieties of parts have had in common is their insatiable will-to-power and their audacity to do whatever it takes to attain it. We can safely say that humans have always been ruled by those who have had the most desire to rule and who had luck and talent too.
We can also safely say that those parts exist today too. Fundamentally, in the form of rising corporations and in the form of sputtering state-politicians do we have the power hungries today. The former with the likes of Musk, Bezos, Gates, Branson, Zuckerberg, Googlers and their fanboys/fangirls are proud enough already to think they own the show and they are justified in thinking so as they have the most advanced know-how of technologies and business at their disposal. On the other hand the latter comprises struggling political leaders of an ailing system who with their uncanny rhetorics and decaying power-model are likely to go to any extent to keep the throne relevant and themselves in the process because they lack the know-how’s of the real deal.
The former openly controls the exponential technologies mentioned above while the latter will surely devise ingenious methods to control the controllers of the technologies. This narrative is not new as demonstrated by one Buckminster Fuller with the Edison-Morgan narrative, this eternal narrative is also the reason Orwell-Huxley are so influential. But, a slight difference this time around is that the non-power hungry majority are equally capable of huge influence.
As mentioned above, this power of majority isn’t due to some abstract concept of republic/democracy that drove the previous generations — the concepts and their application being that which has proved to be the biggest ‘what were we thinking’ in history of humans.
Once again, due to the internet and the massive interconnection we have going around today, we can be hopeful that the collective mass with no gargantuan power ambitions can make decisions for themselves. What this tool called the Internet allows us to do, if willing, is take in enough knowledge independently and use it to generate ideas helpful for problem solving and decision making and share them ruthlessly to such an extent that the sheer force of quantity will help decisions bend to overall advantage. Climate groups have started to do this.
What we have in one of our hands today is — extremely ambitious corporations with their leaders who know what to play with and how to present themselves as supermen who are here to save the universe, all to increase their power base. They have got their greedy gullible fans by the scruff of the neck whom they will use to shape thoughts and perceptions.
On the other hand, we have desperate political entities who are willing to go to any extent to keep this rusted and failed system called State in operation as it is the only way their limited abilities will take them to power, and they too with their rhetorical skills know where to touch to trigger the patriotic sensationalism.
But as a whole, both of those are unhealthy for a normal person as they together will be disseminating more and more propaganda, lies and manipulations to have their ends meet. The game once again is about the part of humanity ruling the rest.
As Musk and his co. dream of kingship seen never before and Politicians plan to cash in on their rise, we, who don’t quite care of being Kings have to conjoin smartly and efficiently if we wish to not be a modern techno-slave.
All of the exponential technologies are already under the control of the corporates and the corporates are already at war with each other and the rusted diplomats. Everytime there has been a power struggle in history, people have suffered. This time it will be no different IF we do not realize what has to be done and get going.
The Internet and such decentralized technologies have provided us with the option of making our decisions while the kings are controlling each and every sophisticated technology posing as heroes.
The potentiality of the technologies we have is huge. One can just wonder in awe regarding what they will allow us to do and where they will allow us to go. But, one may also equally wonder and regret tomorrow in regards to whom we have allowed these technologies to go to.
If the large mass can come together, this could mean this pivot will lead to a place decided by normal human beings, if not, prognostications, residual images of Orwell-Huxley will become real.
Today, climate change is having a serious impact on the Earth. The actions we take today will determine our fate as a species on this planet.
Although climate change on Earth is a natural phenomenon, human induced Carbon emissions have been responsible for heating of the Earth’s atmosphere to a critical point. The scientific community world-wide seems to have now agreed upon this fact.
It was the Swedish Scientist Svante Arrhenius who gave the first warning on Climate and its impact in 1896. He talked about Greenhouse Gases creating problems for the atmosphere and Carbon Dioxide warming the surface temperature of Earth.
Earlier, in the 1820s Joseph Fourier had developed a theory that said –
the amount of energy entering Earth through Sun’s radiation should be equal to the amount of energy exiting the Earth.
John Tyndall in the 1860s had demonstrated that coal gases (containing CO2, methane and volatile hydrocarbons) absorb energy. He showed how CO2 absorbs multiple wavelengths of sunlight like a sponge.
After this, research on the relationship between Greenhouse Gases and Climate increased and also did the process of measuring Earth’s surface temperature. Mechanisms to monitor climate change through human activities began developing.
British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar noted that the United States and North Atlantic region had warmed significantly on the heels of the Industrial Revolution.
Callendar’s calculations suggested that a doubling of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere could warm Earth by 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). He would continue to argue into the 1960s that a greenhouse-effect warming of the planet was underway.
It was the American scientist Charles Keeling who developed a mechanism to measure the atmospheric concentration of CO2. It became known as the Keeling Curve. It is a graph that shows the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In 1963, the first conference on Climate Change was held and the subsequent developments showed that:
Humans have added a great amount of CO2 to the Earth’s atmosphere. Along with it, other Greenhouse gases have also been added:
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Nitrous oxide (N2O)
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
Water vapor (H2O)
It was then noticed that these gases were heating the Earth. These gases were stopping the Solar radiations that were supposed to reflect back into Space. It was named the greenhouse effect and was confirmed that the absorbed heat was what was increasing the temperature.
Here are a few facts:
The increasing temperature impacts all activities on Earth that are dependent on Heat. And that is everything!
Humans have been adding around 3o billion metric tons of CO2 annually.
In the last 150 odd years, the Temperature of the Earth has been increasing by 0.6 degree celsius. But it is estimated to increase by 0.4-2.6 between 2046-2065 and by 0.3-4.8 between 2081-2100
There is a concept called Tipping point which is a point beyond which Earth’s system will get damaged beyond repair. It is 2 degrees.
If nothing is done, the temperature is expected to increase by 5 degree by 2100
Evidences of Climate Change:
Measured Surface Temperature
Inconsistent season patterns
Appearance of Plants and Animals in environments previously not favorable to them
The Impacts of Climate Change:
Sea Level Rise and its impact
Flood, Landslides and their impact
Biodiversity loss and its impact
Glacial melts and its impact
In 2000, 1,50,000 people lost their lives due to the impact of Climate Change
In 2009, this number raised to 3,00,000
The people residing near coastal areas and mountainous regions are the most vulnerable.
Although adequate warning has been given and nations have started to take precautionary actions, poorer countries such as Nepal have a long way to go. The 2020 CRI index showed Nepal to be the 12th most vulnerable nation from Climate Change. Due to the presence of Himalayas and dependency on Summer Monsoon; Nepal, which is an agriculture dependent nation can have catastrophic consequences if proper actions are not taken immediately.
Glacial Lake Outburst Flood and other natural disasters such as Flood, Landslide, Soil-Erosion have already increased by a considerable margin. The problem though is that enough research has not been done and that which has been done has not been contextualized and distributed among the public and the responsible agencies.
Internationally there have been ‘landmark’ initiatives in regards to Climate Change.
In 1989 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established under the United Nations whose task was to provide scientific basis of Climate Change and impact Political, Economic decisions.
Nepal has also initiated Clean Development Mechanism. It has also agreed towards promoting Alternative Energy carbon neutralization. In 2011, the Local Adaptation Plans of Action – LAPA) was prepared. Nepal is also a part of the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement and Sendai Framework.
Nepal’s Issue and Crisis
Precipitation, Increasing Water stress. Droughts, storms, floods, inundation, landslides, debris flow, soil erosion and avalanches- are the apparent issues Nepal has to deal with.
Climate Migration resulting from the above will occur and the lack of capable/credible power-structure will only bring more crises thereon.
Nepal’s major crisis will stem from the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood. It occurs when water dammed by a glacier is flooded which results in flash floods of water and other debris destroying the infrastructures of lower regions. This impacts agriculture, settlements, industries and tourism.
Prakash Mani Sharma writes in Climate Change and its Impact in Nepal:
In Nepal’s Himalaya, total estimated ice reserves between 1977 and 2010 decreased by 29% (129 km3). The number of glacier lakes increased by 11% and glaciers receded on an average by 38 km2 per year during the same period. The substantial impacts on snows and glaciers that are likely to increase the possibilities of Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued a report in 2007 that claimed Himalayan glaciers could completely melt away by 2035. • The other scientists believe that by the time global temperatures increase by just 2 degrees Celsius, more than half of the Himalayan glaciers will have vanished
even under the present climate at least 44 glacial lakes have been identified with serious potential of GLOFs.
Of these, 20 glacial lakes are identified as potentially dangerous for GLOF events. Among the potentially dangerous lakes, only few mitigation measures are taken.
Several GLOF events have occurred over the past few decades incurring extensive damage to roads, bridges, trekking trials, villages as well as incurring loss of human life and other property and infrastructure. At least 12 GLOF events have been reported to date. These have caused extensive damage and with continued regional warming GLOFs are likely become more common.
Monsoon is another area that will get disturbed due to Climate Change. Since Nepal is heavily dependent on the Summer Monsoon, there is a huge risk for agriculture and other industries.
There is an even bigger risk for areas directly heavily dependent on Summer Monsoon.
Snow, glacier melt precipitation will also bring risk to agriculture and industries. Furthermore, it will increase the chances of floods, landslides and soil erosion. With this too, there is a huge risk for areas heavily dependent on Summer Monsoon.
Here are some facts related to Nepal and Climate Change:
Out of the 75 districts, 29 districts are highly vulnerable to landslides, 22 districts to drought, 12 districts to GLOFs, and 9 districts to flooding.
95% Greenhouse gases generated from Nepal are from agriculture and forests. 77 % of this is from forests.
By 2030 the surface temperature can reach up to 2 degree Celsius.
By 2060 the surface temperature can reach up to 3.8 degree Celsius.
By 2090 the surface temperature can reach up to 5.8 degree Celsius.
70 % of the people in Nepal are dependent on agriculture.
There are 6000 rivers in Nepal with an annual mean runoff – 224 billion cubic meter
Per capita water availability – 9000 cubic meters
~96% water is used in agriculture but only 24 % is used in agriculture
Nepal is dependent on Monsoon. Now there is a risk of greater rainfall.
Monsoon will get even more unpredictable
All this can result in food crisis
Weakened Agriculture sector will be impacted more by Climate Change. There is a risk of Food Insecurity and Food deficiency
There hasn’t been much research on Climate Change in Nepal. Because:
GCM model is difficult to implement
Lack of Climate Change Records
Natural Variations in Water Resources
Poor resource Management
Impacts which can help understand Climate Change scenario in Nepal:
Changes in Precipitation Pattern
Increasing Water Stress
We earlier mentioned Stewart Brand and his three strategies. In Nepal’s case, Amelioration seems implausible which leaves us with Mitigation and Adaptation.
Mitigation – Avoiding the unmanagable.
Adaptation – Managing the unavoidable.
The challenges of Nepal can be summarized as follows:
Too much dependency on Agriculture makes Nepal very vulnerable.
The same dependency results in difficulty in implementing strong policies.
Lack of dependable financial sector.
Lack of Research
With this, there are basically two approaches towards solving the climate crisis in Nepal:
From the National Level
From the Local to Individual Level
From the National level, the best that has been done so far is the theoretical राष्ट्रिय जलवायू परिवर्तन निति
It’s goal is to contribute to the socio-economic prosperity of Nepal by developing a sustainable system. It aims to assist people, families, groups and communities, vulnerable from Climate Change. Not only that but it also wants to develop a sustainable system, promote green-economy and mobilize grants from various sources towards reducing climate change catastrophe.
The policy has identified the following areas:
Agriculture and Food Security
Forest, Biodiversity and Watershed preservation
Water Resource and Energy
Rural and Urban Settlements
Industry, Transportation and Physical Infrastructure
Tourism and Natural/Cultural Heritages
Public Awareness and Capacity Building
Research and Technical development
Climate Change Finance Management
But since these policies are paperworks that will merely feed their makers and the makers’ masters, these are the minimum actions that have to taken from National Level to avoid catastrophe in Nepal:
Focus on Water Management: Sustainable agricultural techniques have to be developed that are less water intensive and refocused efforts have to be put on the rehabilitation of water infrastructure.
Focus on Infrastructure development and crisis mitigation: Roads, Electricity and such infrastructures are going to suffer. Appropriate preparations have to start NOW.
Support Local and Independent Actors: If you can’t and don’t want to do it yourself, at least don’t make it difficult for others.
From the local to individual level:
Awareness programs have to be greatly initiated. Usage of less water, diverse agriculture, micro irrigation, small scale storage, etc. have to be taught and adapted. Public actors have to be active for this.
There is another way of looking at history. As the struggle of human beings to understand, organize and use their own mind. That is, their thoughts!
It won’t be wrong to paraphrase one famous sentence of history this way:-
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of thought struggles.
To validate this silly argument, let’s start by suggesting that the struggles between good/bad, right/wrong, duty/passion, ideology/compassion, ego/emotion, gods – exist inside the human cranium (mind) in the form of thoughts and thinking. As struggles of the mind!
That is why, all struggles are the struggle between thoughts. A crisis of thought management. A crisis of mind management.
Identity is the way we define ourselves or the things which we identify ourselves with. This exists in the form of thoughts. Our very existence and the proof of existence’s existence is only possible through thoughts, said one Descartes, a long time ago. But we will not go in that end of the spectrum here.
Let us rather go into the ancient times where different tribal groups fought and killed each other for resources.
The thing that separated tribal groups from each other and made them go for each others’ blood and bounty was their identities. Members of each tribe identified themselves as a part of that particular tribe and not the other. This made them think it was right to kill people from other tribes and not one’s own.
History shows that tribal groups fought with one another until their groups united into one. The same continued later when small states appeared.
When multiple groups united, the individual members who fought one another suddenly identified with the nemesis as one and searched for new foes with a different identity. The latest example of it is the fact that more and more people today are choosing to identify themselves as a single species called Homo Sapiens instead of identifying on the basis of their race, ethnicity, caste, class, nationality, continent etc.
Of course, there are those who would like us all to be obsessed with minor identities to exploit the sentiment of such identities for their own power-game, but it is safe to say that we all are becoming wiser by the day and learning to utilize our specific racial, ethnic identities for cultural and emotional values instead of using them to decimate each other. It is only a matter of time, and, yeah, of thought!
Our difficulties in thought management and the absurdity of what will happen if it is not done well was understood very well by some of the ancients folks who being way way way ahead of their times, worked hard to find some method to the madness.
While some came up with the idea of One identity with the entire Cosmos, a person called Buddha came up with the idea that this entire identity bullshit is the most bullshit thing in existence and we all have to get rid of it from its source in order to stop suffering and ending this identity game for once and for all. Buddha and his subsequent followers established an entire religion which is nothing but a course in thought management. Mind management!
With the identity side of thoughts aside, let us talk about our earliest tool of thought management. We are not going to talk about various forms of chemicals, which basically alter the brain neurochemically which takes thoughts to directions as per the nature of the chemical and the default character of the user. We are going to talk about a thing without which it would have been impossible for Buddha to do what he did — Language.
Many thinkers on thinking agree to the fact that it was language which allowed man to actually take a giant leap forward. Not only did it provide man with a sophisticated mechanism to record thoughts, it also allowed man to conceive previously unconceived things and communicate with each other better which only improved as ages passed by. One can only imagine where man would have ended up if not for language.
Along with it, humans had been using techniques of arts — drawing, music, storytelling, dancing to make sense of thoughts by expressing them in a systematic way. While the arts had allowed people to express what buzzes inside the cranium it was far from becoming an actually serious pursuit.
Then the Greeks beginning with the fabled Socrates ‘seriously’ began working on thought management. Plato became so obsessed with the idea of thoughts that he thought all there is- is in that form, while Aristotle took the game a hell of a lot of steps further and began the establishment of an entire system of thinking. While we can go on and on about such theoretical managers, all we will do right now is stop at Aristotle and say that the works he did opened doors to a lot of things in the domain of thought management and utility, the fruits of which we are enjoying today in the form of writing, rationalism, philosophy, science, technology, etc.
And now that we have arrived at today, we have arrived at a point in time where our understanding of our thoughts and their management are about to go to a whole new level. Perhaps, we are entering a period of significance in thinking matched only by the advent of language.
The computer is a strange machine. While all machines and tools developed by man since his ‘rise’ had been to make his task of physicality, be it seeing or running easier and smarter, the concept of computing machines took tool usage directly into the domains of the mind. While various transport vehicles must have allowed ancient people to lessen the distance between their objects of interest which they had to count themselves, tools such as abacus allowed them to make counting easier and more reliable.
If language provided voice to human subtleties, computers provided tools to supplement the brain and mind in their tasks. Beginning with simple arithmetic operations, computers soon evolved into doing heavier and more sophisticated mathematical tasks, some of the type which is almost impossible for a human mind to do. But all this to supplement human mind’s labour.
If we are to stick to the definition of computer as a device that makes human thought management easier, then we have to include devices such as navigational compass, clock, recorder, camera to the list too.
The compass provided the ability to think through directions, the clock helped keep track of time, the recorder allowed to record sounds, which is an advancement of audial-memory and the camera enabled to record images, which is an advancement of visual memory. The difference between other tools for same functions such as a drawn map, notations and drawing and these tools is that the former tools cannot be qualified as machines, they are mechanisms/methods alright but are not automatic.
In regards to the camera, the reason it qualifies as a thought machine and tools such as binoculars and telescopes do not is that- binoculars assist the physicality, the eye while the cameras assist thoughts by saving space and effort for memory.
This brings us to modern gadgeteries. While smartphones with the internet are supposed to be such thought managers, their niche is limited to integrating all other forms of retro thought machines into them and enhancing communication. Along with it, they are important assistances for other functions such as selection (eg. shopping items), distribution, entertainment and information, among few. While the amount of information they contain can surely be said to be assisting thoughts, which they certainly do, they haven’t reached to a point where they automatically as a tool allow us to understand, interpret and manage our thoughts. They are merely existing in the form of content of someone else’s language or such other forms.
But there are three up and coming technologies that can make a difference — VR, AR and BCI.
One of the founding fathers of Virtual Reality, Jaron Lanier has listed a total of 52 definitions of VR in his book Dawn of Everything. Among those are definitions that talk about VR as a type of sensory and motor organs tricking devices which can make one identify with a whole other thing and environment instead of one’s own biological body and immediate surroundings.
VR functions as an immersive technology, in that, they temporarily disconnect all sense organs from the actual identities and environment and submerge them in some other scenario, tricking the brain/mind into believing that its actual body and hence responsibility is of that which is given by the device. This way of approaching the self can have huge consequences in the domain of thoughts and thinking. It directly toys with self-identification. But it doesn’t seem to have direct mechanistic implications in regards to our understanding of our thoughts and mind in general.
Augmented Realities on the other hand can be called extended and enhanced smartphones. They provide information better and easier but I don’t see them assisting in our thought comprehension.
And then come — BCIs
Brain Computer Interfaces in this context stands for consumer-end subset of neuroimaging which are fundamentally devices that allow us to send information of our brain directly to a computing device and vice-versa. It is a product that is and will be available to any human being. This is what makes it interesting and a serious contender for filling the shoes of language.
While still at their primitive stage, ideally, BCI can be that technology that allows us to see the happenings of our brain and mind in a system that is, firstly, not our own brain and secondly, is a machine. Language, Writing and Art allow the former but are not automated machines, meanwhile, a computer is a machine but does not have the ability to help us see those happenings if not for its usage in Language, Writing and Arts. BCI can be both.
With its capacity to map the workings of the brain in a computer in real time, we can expect to have greatly enhanced understanding of how our own brain works and which part of it does what when we are involved in x,y, or z. But as mentioned earlier, this mapping is still in its primitive stage due to the technique it uses called EEG which produces weak signals and is prone to interferences and also due to lack of information about brain-mechanisms, in other words on actuation.
Yet, they hold potential and no one can deny that. Considering the amount of investment being done on them in terms of both financial and talent resources, we can be sure that their limitations will surely be overcome in the not too far future.
Imagine being able to place a device in your head that is connected to your computer and being able to see the workings of your brain when you engage in xyz in real time. Now, imagine you being able to manipulate information in your brain, not by thinking but by making changes in the program in your computer which in turn affects the brain. Further, imagine your most important desire in life, say, taking care of your family, and imagine being able to computerally store that desire in a part of your brain via a computer and programming your computer to send you an electrical nudge each time you put on the device in that specific part of your brain where you have decided to keep that desire. Now we’re talking about thought management!
Imagine being able to see everything you have thought and your pattern of thinking in a computer device with you being able to press a few keys and play around with them! All this might be possible with BCI.
As with every other tool of importance, there will be vulturesque and hyenaesque humans to take advantage of your privilege.
Now imagine a corporation such as google or facebook being able to observe everything going on in your head and manipulating the information therein as they own the device or the system related to it! Not pretty now is it?
With great potentiality come great opportunities, ergo there will be opportunists waiting to cash in in your new found glory. But with the amount of control you have over your own thoughts, may be, you will be able to deceive them at that game and actually win! All this and much more is awaiting us with BCI.
We are on the verge of a paradigm shift in thought and thinking. Not only due to the technological sophistication but also due to the nature of our lives today with crazy amounts of information and complexities, we will be in dire need of thought assistance. Our brain will just not be able to handle the incoming times.
Name any kind of thought manipulating item and we are at a juncture where that item is getting more and more advanced with each passing day. This change is inevitable. All we have to do is think really really good now.
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of thought struggles.
can be turned into:
The future of all society is the future of thought magic. Of mind magic!
We humans will have tremendous opportunities opening, the kind we are not even capable of imagining today once we get hold of the tools that will allow us to for the second time in history understand and manage our thoughts. Those tools are at our doorsteps. And so are opportunistic exploiters…
WILL WE WIN?
CAN WE WIN? but more importantly:
CAN WE BE FINALLY PUT AN END TO THE THOUGHT STRUGGLES?
Hey there, it’s me Adesh and I would like to welcome you all to my website. I hope you are having a good day.
As you may have noticed, I am just starting out with this.
My basic idea with this website is to write on subject matters that concerns and interests me and all of us:
And I will also be sharing my travel stories.
While dealing with subject matters that concerns us all, I will be using my own subjective thinking and I can assure you that I am not biased towards any political or such power entities. I value free-thinking more than anything else in life. This may lead to things being erratic and vague at times, but may be that is exactly what our human minds are like.
My service towards you in this website will be:
To ensure I talk about new things
To ensure I talk deep things
To ensure I can contribute in your learning process.
To ensure you have fun
I hope you learn new deep things and have fun here. Because that’s the way I get to keep learning new deep things and having fun.