There are biologists who’ve spent their careers working on some species of beetle in the tropical rainforest, and they just love the rainforest in their bones And they feel that when they go testify in Congress to some committee, that they can’t just say, “I love it in my bones and you guys will love it too, if you share it with me.” They have to say, “Oh, we’ve done all this math and computed that there’s an ecosystem service here.” And I think that that has really impoverished our debate about environmental issues.
My thinking is how do we design systems that provide for every aspect of our humanity? How do we design a city that cares for all of our needs? You know it’s not just thinking about shelter, but it’s thinking about our food and our air and so, obviously the types of industry we have are very different, because we have to make sure that our air and our water is clean. And that our food is readily available, and that we have spaces for contemplation and reflection. And that we have places for communing with each other.
Some of my artist friends think what I’m doing isn’t art, and I’ve given up on art. It’ll take care of itself. You know. I mean it’s always been there, it will always be there, and we always know that new art never looks like art at first, ever. So why should this be any different? We just have to trust the process. And I would say that must be true for every other discipline.
We feel that this is a good point to sort of take stock, do sort of a quick précis, if you will, of where we’ve gotten so far. Because I think we’ve got some really interesting places we weren’t necessarily expecting to get. And we’re seeing some interesting poles between different large groups of thinkers that we weren’t necessarily expecting.
I don’t think ecological awareness is a sort of “happy happy joy joy, we are all earthlings” thing. I think it’s actually a kind of uncanny realization. On the one hand there’s no away, on the other hand what the hell is this? “This is not my beautiful waste. This is not my beautiful toilet. This is not my beautiful Pacific Ocean.” You know, all of a sudden these things become somehow not exactly what we thought they were.
Everything we know about biological sciences, medicine, agriculture, disease, whatever, is based on studying one example of life. Life on Earth. Life as we know it. If we find another example that’s different, a second genesis, and independent origin of life, comparing those two might enable us to answer questions that we would never be able to answer if we only had one example to study. That could provide practical benefits for humans as well as better understanding of how to manage ecosystems, etc.