We ignore climate change at our peril

By Uncategorized

Human behaviour is determined by our shared memes. Just as other animals, we are bound to an ongoing struggle for survival in evolutionary competition. The process of evolution has no inbuilt mechanism for taking precautions against dangers that are decades away. To solve the issue of climate change requires coordinated international action. There is no world organisation in place that can force change and our current organisations have limited scope for cooperating to resolve long term issues. If human memes don’t change we will inevitably pursue our own short-term interests until we reach the limits in population and wealth that the Earth can support.

Individual action by people or governments will not be effective enough. We can stop it only if everyone wants to stop. That is not just scientists, New- Age travellers and the liberal middle classes but American red-necks, Indian peasants, Chinese communist party members, African subsistence farmers, the urban poor of Mexico City and all the peoples of the world. In short it will only happen if human behaviour as a whole changes. It sounds impossible, but history shows there is just one chance. Humans are able to demonstrate altruistic behaviour to members of their own communities. The most obvious example of this is soldiers fighting for their country. Unfortunately, few are able to regard the population of the whole world as part of their community. There are too many examples of poor regimes, corrupt officials, violent and self–destructive behaviour for many of us to behave altruistically for the benefit of the whole of mankind. There is one type of community, however, that has a proven ability to appeal to a wide variety of national groups and that is a religion or philosophy of life. Buddhism, for instance, spread from India to China and on to Japan, communism spread from Russia to China and Christianity from Europe to Latin America, Asia and Africa. Moreover religions and philosophies of life have a proven record of persuading their followers to fast, give money to good causes and to make other personal sacrifices according to the customs of the movement. In addition, their congregations have maintained common rules of behaviour that are defined by their doctrines.

Our only hope to save the planet for our children is that a new philosophy of life could enthuse people to adopt an ecologically friendly lifestyle.

What could sound duller than the Soil Association?

By Uncategorized

I listened to Helen Browning, the charismatic Chief Executive of the Soil Association, on Desert Island Discs and discovered that the dull name was a cover for a very important organisation. I realised I knew nothing about the work of the association to prevent the degradation of our soils, promote organic food and  abrogate the threat to our future food supply.

I looked up their web site and found:

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of far-sighted individuals who were concerned about the health implications of increasingly intensive farming following the Second World War. They were particularly worried about the loss of soil through erosion and depletion; the decreased nutritional quality of intensively produced food; the exploitation of animals in intensive units and the impact of large-scale intensive farming  on the countryside and wildlife.

Today, they are the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. They have over 150 staff both based in offices in Bristol and Edinburgh and working as certification inspectors across the country.

Here is an unsung and unheralded organisation supported by practical people working for the good of us all. Born from a group of farmers who believed in operating farms in alliance with nature rather than with industry, they have developed standards for eco-friendly farming.

For 50 years they have been working to the third principle of behaviour of Eco-humanity: ‘Recognise the integrated world of nature, respect how it supports our lives and preserve its full diversity for the benefit of our children.’

The gay marriage vote in Ireland

By Uncategorized

The    Irish leader Enda Kennedy said that as a result of the vote in support of gay marriage on 23rd May that:

With today’s vote we [the Irish] have disclosed who we are. We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love and yes to gay marriage.

Despite the propaganda of the Catholic Church and money poured in by American right-wing religious groups, common humanistic values  prevailed. This is an amazing result in a country that until a few decades ago the Catholic Church held sway over all moral issues.

The world is realising that there are humanistic values of fair play, decency and respect for other individuals that have evolved naturally despite resistance from the established churches. The values of the old religions are becoming less relevant in this modern world. It is now the secular society that is more concerned to create a more caring and compassionate world. Now, these new humanists need to learn from religions on how to value and cherish their cultural heritage and teach these new found humanistic ideals to future generations.

These same humanistic values that have proved popular in Ireland form a large part of the moral basis of Eco-humanity.

Oil companies and evolution

By Uncategorized

Oil companies are also stuck in an evolutionary battle of survival of the fittest. Evolution is blind and unable to anticipate long term problems. Oil companies know that the current rate of burning fossil fuels is unsustainable; it will eventually cause climate change which will prejudice the lives of our children and damage the world’s economy.   An example is shown in the quotation in a Guardian article about Shell published on 18th May:  ‘….. under its own [Shell’s] forecasts the Earth’s temperature will rise nearly twice as much as the 2C threshold for dangerous climate change’.

Yet what can the oil companies do? They are incapable of changing direction because the laws of capitalism mean that they are engaged in a relentless competitive battle. They are all increasing their reserves of fossil fuels, even though they know that to burn them completely will ensure disastrous global warming.   For example, Shell has just taken over the  BG Group (British Gas) to increase its ability to extract fossil fuels. Shell know that  in 30-50 years time we will all be worse off as a result of burning fossil fuels and that their company will be adversely affected as a result. However they are stuck in the same relentless day to day battle of survival as the rest of us. If Shell stop competing with other energy companies now, they will simply loose business and risk their own extinction in the short term.

The only way to stop the oil companies from polluting the planet is for the consumers to stop using their products. This will only happen if we unite in a common ecological objective to save the planet for our children.

Sacrificial Behaviour

By Uncategorized

Richard Dawkins has conclusively shown that there is no such thing as a sacrificial gene that would induce humans to sacrifice their life for the good of others. So why do suicide bombers exhibit sacrificial behaviour for the sake of Islam?

It is due to memes; by identifying someone as one of our own we unleash feelings of kinship. Natural caution can be overridden by instincts which are related to family protection. Humans have the ability to divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Hunter–gatherers regarded their own community as ‘us’ and acted violently against others. There is no group size limit to this human behaviour and in modern times dreadful acts of violence against millions of people have been perpetrated once this feeling of communal kinship is aroused in hateful opposition to another group of humans.

There is another factor however in Muslim Jihadist behaviour. The Qu’ran teaches that life on Earth is temporary; eternal life only starts when you die. There are rewards for those who sacrifice themselves for their religion. In a much quoted passage the paradise available after death is described in much detail:

There will be two Gardens containing all kinds of (trees and delights); In them (each) will be two Springs flowing; In them will be Fruits of every kind, two and two. The Fruit of the Garden will be near (and easy of reach). In them will be (Maidens), chaste, restraining their glances, whom no man or Jinn before them has touched; Like unto Rubies and coral. Is there any reward for Good – other than Good?

This old religious trick, pretending that humans by some means survive death, has also warped human behaviour in the West. It has created a society in which some people are more concerned with their afterlife than the effect they have on other people in this world.  The cruel acts of Nuns in the Irish Magdalene Laundries are a case in point.

Surely it is time to wake up and subscribe to a philosophy of life dedicated to improving our existence on planet Earth.  We should discard this human fantasy of life after death and concentrate on saving the planet for our children.

The Guardian’s climate change campaign

By Uncategorized

The Guardian is running a campaign on climate change. Recent issues have featured three experts,   Naomi Klein, George Marshall, and Larry Elliot, all of whom warned that politicians, businesses or the ruling elite cannot be relied upon to counter global warming.  Naomi Klein advocates a popular anti-capitalist movement; George Marshall says we should stop arguing, believe in climate change and learn from the religious approach and Larry Elliott plays down expectations from future international conferences and emphasises the need for personal involvement.  All are saying in different ways that the only way serious green policies will be implemented is if the mass of people demand them.  However none of the experts say how this mass popular movement is to be achieved.

Eco-humanists believe evolution is still taking place and we humans are still involved in a process of the survival of the fittest.  States, individuals, businesses and other institutions are competiting and cooperating in their own self-interest. The very evolutionary instincts that have served mankind so well up to now are driving the species forward to disaster. There is currently no human organisation that has the power or moral standing to enforce global cooperation in order to implement green policies. Thus, although scientists are unequivocally saying that global warming is threatening the future of human life on the planet, mankind is unable to cooperate sufficiently to step back from disaster.

Our only hope is to actively promote a new eco-friendly philosophy of life, such as Eco-humanity , in competition to religions. We need to appeal to the heart and not base all persuasion on rational analysis. We need to generate a popular movement that inspires people to save the planet for our children.

It starts now!

By Uncategorized

From today, 16th April 2015, Memes, Societies and Human Evolution – How humans came to dominate the Earth and then threaten its ecology is available from Amazon in the USA, UK and Europe.  This is the official start date of this site; the start of this ambitious attempt to launch the concept of Eco-humanity, a new form of positive humanism with the aim of saving the planet for our children.

Buy the book and contribute to the development of  a new  movement!