This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Friday, August 25, 2006

On stability, earth and social development

Roger Penrose in his book 'The Large, the small and the human mind' mentions that our planet earth has two stable equilibrium states:
a) An atmosphere that is filled with noxious gases at high temperatures, with a weather comprising storms that pour down acid rain and the earth's surface in a chaotic dynamic state. Essentially a state where no meaningful life can exist.
b) The earth blanketed in an ultra-thick sheet of ice a.k.a the ice age.

The fi(e)ry state is much similar to the one on a planet like the mercury and the icy state, well, can be imagined. Now, if these two states are the stable ones for a planet like earth, what about the state of earth we are living in. That ofcourse is a state of unstable equilibrium, an equilibrium that is dependent on a million or gazillion factors. The earth that exists today was different from the one that existed a few days back and will be different every moment as is determined by the factors that decide the state of this delicate equilibrium. But what changes could be effected on earth in an ice age or a gas age? More ice?! More gaseous activity?! It doesn't matter, you get either ice or gas, the same stuff.

Looking at earth(especially earth among all other planets) from this unstable equilibrium perspective makes us think of how extremely arduous or impossible task it would be to simulate the functioning of earth comprising the various ecosystems making up the biosphere.
The ecosystem of earth, though a continuosuly evolving system is a system that left to itself can go on functioning smoothly and efficiently till either the sun runs out of fuel(hydrogen) or an asteroid or comet the size of 2-3 miles or more strikes the earth head on.
Given that our sun is aged 5 billion years, we can put off worrying about it converting into a red giant or a white dwarf till another 5 billion years.
An asteroid or a comet could ofcourse strike earth and given a decent diameter(1-2 miles), enough damage would be done to put earth into ice age(the haze of dust that would envelop the earth after such a catastrophe would prevent the sunlight from reaching the earth for a time long enough to freeze the earths surface) .
These two occurences are unavoidable in due course of time and hence nothing much can be done about it(ofcourse progressive technology could make us shoot out a nuclear missile into space diverting the comet or asteroid's trajectory thus avoiding a catastrophe on earth).
What can be avoided ofcourse is the human tampering of the ecosystem.

People grossly under-estimate the effects global warming, air,water, soil pollution can have on the earth's biosphere . The age of earth is around 4.5 billion years. The first living organisms on earth orginated 3 billion years ago and intelligent life a million years ago. Given how old earth is,
effects of global warming should be measured on a proportionately larger scale..Not a few years, but decades or better centuries. 0.3 degrees celsius per century or 3 degrees celsius per decade increase in temperature would mean a 10 cm rise in sea levels or a whopping 1 metre increase every century. This rate of temperature increase is in no small amounts and can lead to a perfect setting for unprecedented storms that continually batter the earth creating hostile conditions for survival. And the water level rise means lesser land for habitation by humans and loss of life on submerged lands leading to utter chaos on the earth as a whole. We are already witnessing an increase in the number of storms in places least expected all over the world. In India for example, regular monsoons could be replaced by storms and cyclones and in places like Florida where storms and tornadoes are a regular feature, we could have an avalanche of atmospheric and oceanic activity leading to exotic weather hitherto unknown.

Industrial revolution might very well have improved the standard of living, but technology it seems has gone miles ahead of social development as Michio Kaku asserts in the concluding chapters of his wonderfully crafted book 'Hyperspace'.
What we mean by social development needs to be looked at in detail. Humans started out living in small groups of 8-10 and gradually the cluster expanded. Small clusters gave way to villages and villages to towns and towns eventually into cities comprising nation-states of today's world. As long as technological ill-effects were realised within the boundaries of the nation-states there was no room for conflict. The same was true with the resources used for these technologies.
But once the resources needed were used up at a rate greater than made available by nature, nation-states looked to colonisation of other nations thereby capturing the resources of the conquered nations.
As the industrial revolution progressed and technological improvements happened at an exponential rate, a new world order was the need of the hour. Since air pollution caused by one nation didn't necessarily restrict itself to the boundaries of the nation, the existence of nation-states with boundaries demarcating the different nations from one another needed a thorough redressal. Not just pollution and CO2 emissions, but more important issues like Nuclear proliferation cannot be resolved without a change in the social order of the society. We need fewer nations with decisions made and reviewed on a scale larger than that of a mere nation.

We need unions, unions of nations and even better, unions of unions. The critical decisions, the decisions that could threaten the very fabric of life are best left to these unions. Our present state of technology would enable the massive scale of communication required to review and mobilise decisions on a global scale. Infact the decisions on certain global policies(non-critical but nevertheless important ones) could be based on as simple a tool as an opinion poll on the world wide web, so that all global citizens could exercise their opinion on the issue. This kind of a global decision making process would right away eliminate decisions that could prove detrimental to any of the nations(provided the union of nations isn't biased or manipulated). Eco-friendly products, solutions and way of living would become the norm of such a society. We would then also focus our space colonisation efforts with resources pooled from one union rather than each nation doing independent research and making meagre progress.

We need to slowly move up the hierarchy, from a sense of belonging to the nation, to that of the union and finally to the world as such. One world would be ideal but such an impressive goal is not in sight atleast in the near decades what with every country looking for its own economic growth and development in a liberalised world without seeking to combine their economic goals with the principles of sustainable development. The frame work and motivation for sustainable development is easily established when we have a world order of unions and a master union - the union of all nations.

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