In Discussions with David Wasdell
Subject: Global Warming
recent trip to UK (Oct ’08) I had the opportunity to spend a few evenings
chatting with David Wasdell, coordinator of the Meridian Programme and the
associated Apollo-Gaia Project.
David is a lead scientist on global warming issues, and has established the scientific reasons for the fact that the rate of global warming is now much faster than had been projected from models based on earlier scientific assessments.
Pretty well everyone has heard of global warming, and a few people have heard of accelerated secondary global warming and the possibility of a tipping point. That point is when heating will take on a life of its own, so that even if/when our human activity stops, the global temperature will continue to rise. It is as if human activity has been cranking the engine of a car until another energy source takes over, and then…?
In the case of a car, we can control the engine speed. In the case of global warming, it is likely to be the highly accelerated beginnings of the sixth major extinction event of known geological history.
The project name, Apollo - Gaia, has Greek mythological roots. Apollo represents the sun and Gaia the Earth. Earth would be barren without Apollo’s constant flow of energy. Time, energy and evolution have developed the interactive outer layer of systems consisting of animal (including humans), vegetable and mineral. The Gaia name was recently popularised by James Lovelock who explained these relationships and the current dynamic balance that produces weather within our habitable home. An unintended consequence of the industrial revolution has been a disruption of the energy balance between Gaia and Apollo. Our task is to restore that balance.
Planet Earth, We Have a Problem is section heading in reference to the message from the crew of Apollo 13 (“Houston, we have a problem!”). After a brief time to digest the grave implications of the problem, the NASA team underwent a rapid paradigm shift. Their focus changed from the planned moon mission to crew survival. “Failure is not an option!” was the team mindset, as verbalized by Gene Kranz of Mission Control.
We, the crew of Spaceship Earth (Buckminster Fuller’s term), have an Apollo 13-like problem. Many of our top scientists indicate that we need declare a state of emergency: but this message has yet to filter through in a meaningful way to current governments and we the people who elect them. Dave Wasdell and team of the Meridian Programme intend to ignite the people of Earth into demanding to be served by governments that will base future decisions on a survival paradigm, a paradigm that must rapidly be created.
David Wasdell has degrees in theology, mathematics, physics and has practiced in each of these fields. He has also spent many years in leading edge research on psychodynamics and social dynamics. This background gives him a unique perspective on both the relevant physical realities of our situation, and human reactions to information that indicates our tomorrow will be vastly different from our yesterday. Individuals and groups use denial, avoidance and other such characteristics of our human nature to escape the discomfort of unpleasant reality. These characteristics were, no doubt, instrumental in the crash of regional civilizations past.
Below are a few paragraphs clipped from sections of the Meridian Programme web page. These emphasize that the time is over for downplaying the severity of the human predicament, and that this is not a time for political correctness or avoidance of such issues as human population overload.
“The Meridian Programme exists in order to serve the task of human integration at every level of the world system in order to ensure species survival and to optimise the quality of life within the sustainable limits of our holding environment.
“The current relationship between species and environment is critically unsustainable and accelerating towards ecological catastrophe. The window of opportunity within which it is still possible to intervene effectively in these systems is small and reducing steadily. Newly discovered positive feed-back loops in climate change may already have been triggered to the point at which they are beyond the reach of human control.
“This "footprint overshoot" leads to annual debt-accumulation in the interaction between the human enterprise and its supporting ecosystem. Current estimates indicate that the supporting capacity of the global environment will collapse when the accumulated debt reaches some 50 or 60 Planet-years. The most recent conservative forecasts from the UN predict that that point will be reached around the year 2050. In addition, the value of a Planet-year is degrading because of the effect of environmental pollution, the over-grazing of the global commons and the impact of humanufactured climate change.
Call To Action: (Global
“Each wave calls for its own specific response:
The threat of Climate Change calls for Environmental Stewardship.
The threat of Footprint Overshoot calls for Footprint Reduction.
The threat of Global Psychosis calls for Psychological Integration.”
In the past few years, David has made many presentations to a wide variety of both scientific and political audiences, such as the Club of Rome and the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group in the UK House of Commons. He has had personal discussions with Al Gore and James Lovelock. “Unfortunately”, David says, “the scientists all tend to agree with the dangers of second order sources of global warming”. David’s presentations are listed and described at http://www.apollo-gaia.org/, in the Background and Development section. This page also links to http://www.meridian.org.uk/, and the evolving pages describing the Meridian Programme.
Both Gaia and human civilization are complex nested systems. The Meridian Programme does not presume to know how to fix our common problem, but it hopes to function as a catalytic hub. As such, it could be a facilitator of ideas and movements that emerge from the dark shadow of our dying paradigm, ideas that may mesh together in a mutually supportive and chaordic (Dee Hock’s term) fashion. Our hope is to gather a new form of order on the edge of chaos, as our malignant growth paradigm dies. A good overview of these thoughts is in a paper by Wasdell in response to Ervin Laszlo’s Report to the Club of Budapest, 2003. See:
Today we have an edge over civilizations past that blindly reached overgrowth and slid into die off: we have technologies and a global communications network. These have contributed to a high anxiety level among millions of people; it is the intention of the Meridian Programme to focus this anxiety into action, rather than allow it to take hold as morbid paralysis.
This program needs your support, both in spirit and financially. Every bit of help matters. Growth in human activity will soon end: let us humans decide the optimal way of dealing with it based on scientific realities. By following the support links you can become an Associate of the Meridian Programme (AMP). http://www.meridian.org.uk/Action/Support/support.htm
The Apollo-Gaia Project is
co-ordinated by David Wasdell as part of the Meridian Programme. It is
hosted by the Unit for Research into Changing Institutions, URCHIN, an
Educational Research Trust, registered as a Charity in the UK (Registration
Number: 284542. Tel: +44 (0)207 987 3600.
The Apollo-Gaia Project is co-ordinated by David Wasdell as part of the Meridian Programme. It is hosted by the Unit for Research into Changing Institutions, URCHIN, an Educational Research Trust, registered as a Charity in the UK (Registration Number: 284542.
Tel: +44 (0)207 987 3600. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
RR 4 Picton
Ontario Canada, K0K 2T0
President of Gaia Preservation Coalition www.gaiapc.ca