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My Philosophy of Human Ecology

Introduction
Right Thing, Wrong Reason
Our Dilemma
A Lost People
Our Extremes
The Jar
Pop the Lid
What About the Future?
The New System
Everything Matters
Why I Really Love Science
Who I Am
If I had the choice of doing one activity right now,
it wouldn't be sitting in this chair writing HTML code. It wouldn't
be earning a million dollars. It wouldn't be going to the movies,
or shopping, or watching TV, or getting a brand new car. It
wouldn't be taking a 20-night cruise anywhere. If I had the
choice of doing one thing right now, it would be knowing
everything there is to know about the universe, but of course,
what I really want to do isn't likely to occur anytime soon.

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Most of us want to know more about the world we live in;
of course, the more we know about the world, the better we will
be able to manipulate it to suit our needs and wishes. Who could
want more? Everyone has curiosity, most people want to know how
things work, and almost everyone wants to make a bit of money as
a result. Often, money is the motivation for inquiry; when
funding vanishes, voices of open minds silence.

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The reason I am writing this page is to explain why I have come
to love science, and to throw you from your seat a bit to
recharge your gray matter. Money is only pieces of paper
and chunks of universally insignificant metal that rule our lives.

These pieces of paper and metal have placed restrictions on the
way we live, speak, and think. We live in what we like to call a
"free country," and we are all slaves to crispy wood products and
blobs of metal. Mankind has been perfected by nature over the
centuries to have an inquiring mind and to be, in terms of
thinking ability, the most intelligent creature on the planet.
We weren't always slaves to money; once, we were a free people,
but we had to create commerce in order to regulate the society
which develops as a result of an increased human population and a
demand for limited resources. We were also primitive. We were
selfish because we needed to survive, but this selfishness soon
became greed when people realized, "Hey, if this is good and a
little bit more is better, then why not acquire it all?" The only
problem to that approach is if everyone wants to acquire it all,
it becomes quite difficult for most to acquire anything.

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That is why the world is the way it is now. A planet
overburdened by its human population, intelligence and inquiry
stifled by the lack of adequate finances, two-thirds of mankind
living on a dollar a day and trying to live until tomorrow. We
can see the dilemma--we want to gain knowledge and advance, and if
we do, then millions of people must suffer for each step we take.
If we want to aid these people, we must give up what we have, and
we cannot readily do that. For more than three billion people,
the motto of their life's accomplishments is not "Acquire it all,"
but "Acquire something that might keep me alive."

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As human beings, we are capable of so many extremes
because of our ability to reason. On one hand, we can dream the
most beautiful of dreams--we want to cure mankind of disease,
explore space, protect the environment, discover the true nature
of reality--but yet, we can enact the most tragic of nightmares.
Every horrendous war we fight and win boosts our economy, we get
richer, but we are also a country in detachment, shock, and grief.
Every horrendous war we fight and win allows us to live, and
everyone else to die. Someone once said that "a war doesn't
determine who's right--a war determines who's left." The world
needed an arsenal of nuclear weapons before anyone ever came
together in a serious attitude to try to change things. Can it
be that man is so stupid that he has to hang on the brink of
destruction before he even tries to make a change? Species which
cannot adapt, or cannot adapt in time, go the way of the dodo.

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Because of the condition of our society and our planet, I
have partially found a reason for my love of science. We are
like ants trapped in a jar that is beginning to fill with smoke
from a burning dollar bill inside, ignorant of the outside world.
We happily live our lives out in the jar because the jar is all
we have permitted ourselves to know; because our economic and
social structure does not permit us to pop the lid off our putrid
jar; because we are so alone and so different from each other that
almost no one can trust a stranger, lend a dollar and get it
returned later, be free from crime, miss a month of work and not
expect to be fired, or pick up a good book and not worry about
what appointments one has to meet. We are dissynchronous; our
thoughts do not focus on one goal, and it is this that has led to
our isolation. We can rely on practically no one, and therefore,
we must do what we feel we need to survive. We must lie, cheat,
steal, fight, kill. We cannot love, because we do not know if we
will receive any in return. We are a listless, lone, languid
people who have no concern for others or for tomorrow; to make it
through rush hour is good enough. We have lost our curiosity;
after a while, we ants stop trying to escape the jar once we
realize the lid is sealed for good. There's no way to open it, we
tell ourselves, and by doing this, we sanction ourselves to an
early demise.

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I believe the lid can be popped and that we can be free
to think, to inquire, to wonder. I want to know what else there
is besides this little world we are on. I want to know my
possibilities for growth as a human being; I want to know. I want
to, someday, improve life for the world, but there is no way one
person can help the world unless the world wishes to receive help.
Drastic changes must be made in our attitudes toward others--we
share the planet with everyone on it, and we need to recognize
that. All of us need to recognize that--criminals, lawyers,
teachers, businessmen, scientists, doctors, especially
politicians, and most importantly, ourselves and our children.
Those who cannot contribute to our advancement as a world should
not be permitted to advance; those who do not wish better for
others should not expect the same in return. Mankind should
support himself and everyone else, taking only what he needs to
survive from the earth and leaving the rest for everyone and
everything else, and engender within himself the idea that
knowledge is the ultimate currency for our world, that people
without knowledge of what we hold dear should not be in positions
of power, and that we exist in the most fragile of balances within
the universe, and in order to advance, we must understand what we
are.

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We cannot do this while waging wars, bickering with our spouses,
or arguing with our parents. Experience has shown us
that any revolution in the way we think, either socially,
economically, technologically, or religiously, has its roots
within the ordinary citizen (for more clarification, that's you and me.
We are, obviously, smart enough to think of a better existence, and
we are also smart enough to think of ways to implement a change
toward that ideal. Are we smart enough to actually implement
that change? Will we let ourselves rot within our little jar of
"the real world," allowing commerce to slowly suffocate us with
its lethal smoke of poverty and listlessness? I do not advocate
doing away with commerce at all--we need some sort of system by
which we give items their true value based upon how much we need
them to survive and how much energy we consume by creating the
item we wish to purchase. For example,

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1. Air, water, food, and personal shelter should be free to all,
because these items are the minimum requirements for survival. Food
producers and growers should grow food for oneself as well as for
many others, because we care about everyone's survival and health,
right? Why? Because others are producing products such as food
and housing, freely, for you and expect something in return.
Water treatment plants should clean water freely because fresh
water is vital to every living creature on Earth, including those
who work at the plant. We should not have to wait for the water
bill to be paid in order to keep our common source of water free
of waste and pollution. Without air, we cannot live for more than
about six minutes. It is our most valuable nutrient, and indeed
is of more value than a piece of paper or chunk of metal can ever
be to our survival. A billionaire without oxygen is dead broke,
literally. And yet, we dump tons of pollution into the air
because the pollution is too expensive to control. The smoke in
our little jar is becoming darker as I speak.

2. Everything else except the four vital items should be paid for,
first in terms of their necessity to life. The items most
essential for healthy human existence should cost the least, and
should be of exceptionally high quality. A refrigerator and stove
, medicine and health care, hygienic products, basic clothes, and other
necessities should cost less than a TV set, boombox, roller
skates, lavish clothing, 29-piece dining set, and diamond rings.

3. Everything that is not a necessity to life should be paid for in
terms of the amount of energy used to create those items. A car,
an office building (which does not count as personal shelter),
an airplane, a metal table, or a store should remain each at their
present individual prices, but all of these items should cost much
more than recycled goods, which use only a fraction of the energy
during recycling that was required to create the goods before they
were discarded. Widely exploited biological products such as fur
and wood should cost much more than recycled goods because these
products subtract from biodiversity and from the health of the
environment. We should not kill an animal just for its fur or
hide; if we eat an animal, such as a cow, the leather should be
put to some use. How would we feel if a more intelligent species
slaughtered us for our skins and left our meat to rot in the
sun? This is an illogical waste of food and life, regardless of
our personal feelings toward whether we believe animals feel as
we do or whether we can compare ourselves to animals. The
bottom line: it is a senseless waste of food and life, and we
are intelligent enough to know better.

4. Items which are essential to the advancement of human knowledge
about our world and the universe are in a special category
because these items often consume much energy to create, but
their creation may allow us in the future to understand our
surroundings better and find new ways to use less energy. Over
time, the amount of energy needed to create a particular item
may be accounted for by energy savings obtained as a result of
knowledge gained by that item. These items are unlike items of
entertainment which consume energy during manufacture and
continue to consume energy during use without the item adding any
noticeable contribution to the advancement of mankind. A general
name for this category is "Items of Research," and all items of
research should be created freely. If the item produces results
which are beneficial to mankind as determined first by a democratic
committee of knowledgeable persons in that particular area of
research and second by the general public, it will be deemed free
of the cost of creation. Continued operation costs, however,
should be paid. If the item does not produce results that are
beneficial to mankind, and no one has learned anything from the
item's use as determined by the same committee and general public
as above, then full prices for the cost of creation (in terms of
how much energy was used) will be paid, and the item should be
recycled.

5. Because time is often more valuable to us than energy or even
money, every person should be compensated for the amount of time
he or she must spend providing for others. Our lives seem
rather short and insignificant if we feel we are working to no
avail. Many of us cannot see that benefits will come knocking
on our doorstep soon in the future, because we expect things to
happen now, and sometimes we must think about the long run,
about the world we wish to leave to our next generation. To
compensate us for our feelings, pay should consist of two parts:
pay received for the amount of energy we expended to create a good
or to provide a service, and pay received for the amount of time
spent doing physical labor. If a good or service is produced or
provided automatically or electronically without any human
assistance during the actual time of manufacture or service,
there is zero charge. The more time a person must do physical
labor (including the work of having to procure the necessary
items needed for manufacture or service), the more his or her pay
will be. Pay will be determined by type of labor (sitting,
standing, driving, lifting objects, farming, in order from least
amount of pay to greatest) and by amount of labor (more hours,
more pay).

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The goal of this system is to minimize energy usage of all forms
(except for perhaps solar energy) and to allow mankind to coexist
sustainably with the environment and with himself. We are all
used to having to provide for others; very few of us actually
receive something meaningful in return. In this system, we all
receive something meaningful in return; our job may make sure that
three billion human beings have the same basic rights to life that
we have--food, clothes, shelter, clean water, education, and the
right to freely think about and question our world. These three
billion human beings account for roughly one in every three people
on the planet. Imagine the difference three people would make
instead of two when you need ideas for a new business, your garden
weeded, or your house built. Every person matters.

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The reason I love science is because through it, I can hope
to understand how the universe runs and I can gain more knowledge so
that I may determine my place in the scheme of things. With more
knowledge, I can learn how to make the world a better place and
contribute something towards the advancement of mankind. We are
all of the same race, man. We all have the same religion, truth.
We all have the same creed: survive. We are all of the same
national origin and share the largest country on the planet, Earth
itself. We are not six billion, we are one, the human collective,
and through concern and compassion for more than oneself will we
hopefully, someday, use our combined power to change our world for the
better and pop that lid right off our little jar to, finally, fly
free to the stars.

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Dahl Clark
1998-99 North Carolina School of Science
and Mathematics
August 21, 1998

For in fine, what is man's place in the Universe? A Nothing in
comparison to All, a Something in comparison to Nothing, a Mean
between Nothing and Everything.

Revised from Blaise Pascal