Introduction to the Spanish Language Edition and 2005 Update of Re-Inheriting the Earth
Chasque aquí para la versión española
Brian O’Leary, January 2005
It is now 2005, two years since the publication of the English and three years from the Portuguese editions of this book. Most people of the world (and I by reflection) have somehow made it through the past two turbulent years, albeit breathlessly. Some of us have made huge transitions (for example, we just moved from the U.S. to Ecuador). We feel well-situated to prepare for the next phase of experiencing and expressing a new but practical vision for the future, free of the polarizing forces that distract us in the North. The needed changes will be so vast they pierce our wildest imaginings, representing a true liberation from fear, violence, repression, bad health and dirty environment .
As a scientist, I can vouch for breakthrough experiments which tear holes into our conventional thinking about energy, that energy can be clean, cheap and abundant if properly developed. It is difficult for me to be humble or tentative about what I have seen or can expect to see if only we give it a chance. As a result, we could end the resource-grab and we can have a truly sustainable future. Many agree and many disagree with these claims, so I say, let the debate begin, let the research and development begin, regardless of our differing assessments of credibility. In such desperate times, shouldn’t we give it a chance? Should we not transparently seek answers to the basic energy-environment questions before giving up and ever more surrendering to our oil addiction?
Should we not marry socioligist Paul Ray’s new progressive or cultural creative social force (now estimated at 36 per cent of the U.S. public now politically disenfranchised) with the broader context of peace, justice and sustainability? Can we not identify our root problems and solutions? Surely we could join innovative social models such as Aubrey Meyer’s “contraction and convergence” for stabilizing global warming as well as John Bunzl’s simultaneous policy. Both Brits have some very good ideas, with which free energy and other technological solutions can be substituted.
Democracy in the U.S. has increasingly given way to empire, militarism and denial of the physical reality of the oil crisis and possible long-term solutions. If we keep going where we are headed we may see the collapse of civilization. We seem ever further away from embracing the solutions yet curiously closer to our goals. The polarizing forces draw their lines more distinctly for us to see for ourselves to know what is not good for us. This will lead intelligent and evolved people to ask how we might make wiser choices and to implement them in global community. Some of these solutions are presented in this book, with new energy at the top of the list, The task of implementing them is ever more urgent in the presence of the gathering darkness, and yet we feel curiously frozen from moving into the research and development effort which has for so long been suppressed by the powers-that-be. The paradox seems to be that we are both closer yet ever further from our goals. Many of us have a giddy hesitance about moving forward towards what we know to be right, because of the huge changes we will have to make to transition to a world of abundance and pristineness. Our mantra should be, The solutions are there if we only try to understand and research many concepts, even those outside the box of Western science.
The U.S. media, establishment scientists, the government and the corporatocracy have virtually silenced the message of new energy (cold fusion, vacuum energy and other potential breakthroughs) as well as new science, healing and consciousness. As a result, my access to the public has been virtually cut off, except perhaps for occasional appearances on George Noory’s Coast to Coast AM. But presentations, interviews, articles and seminars in foreign lands from South Africa to Costa Rica to Europe, South America, India, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have shown to me a much more receptivity to the great potential of these new ideas. As a new Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation, I will have an opportunity to advise some of these governments.
I sometimes feel like a ghost who returns to this plane without realizing I am no longer in physical form. I vainly shout out the obvious but nobody listens, as in “the emperor wears no clothes”. Scientific, economic, political and media orthodoxy set the rules for this hydra-headed beast of consumption, giving room for the beast to go on a rampage through denial, aggression, greed, careerism and obsequiousness--while most of the rest of us flounder in distraction. So now we need to find ways to consciously thread through this orthodoxy into true innovation and transformation. With a minimum of intellectual effort it should become obvious to anyone that time is very short to make the needed transition to peace and sustainability. The U.S. nonparticipation in the Kyoto agreements on global warming is a clear sign of denial and greed in the U.S. blocking innovation.
Many of us can palpably feel the pain of our losses. For some of us, the pain is the loss of Mother Earth. Sadly, most of us are afraid to change: “better the devil we know than the devil we don’t know.” So we amplify our fears to preserve the short-term gains of perpetuating an unsustainable status quo, at great cost to all life on Earth. This hubris distracts us from learning about the real answers. But as we learn about this imbalance, the more quickly we can change. That is my hope.
Our fears feed directly into the short-sighted policy that we must fight for all the oil we can get to survive, that we must run over other nations economically, politically or militarily. The hidden agenda is that we secure that oil even though we are losing our much-acclaimed freedom, even though it’s clear the burning of fossil fuels destroys our environment through global climate change and atmospheric pollution, and even though we are rapidly depleting a resource upon which we so much depend. I’m sure many of you are already aware of the fact that we are addicted to oil, that it lubricates almost everything we do, and so its overuse will of course come up to haunt us, as we slide down the slippery slope of scarcity.
Many scientists , scholars and authors have predicted global oil production is peaking this decade, inevitably leading to permanently higher prices which will probably destroy the economy as we know it--and much more. Experts and prominent spokespeople across the entire spectrum of politics and religions agree. But they are not aware of solutions outside of wars, profits and pollution--or an inevitable dark age. Some well-known authors and analysts have come forward to eloquently state the problem without looking at the broad range of possibilities that can come from research and development . Included in this group are Colin Campbell, Richard Heinberg, Dale Alan Pfeiffer, Michael Ruppert, Matt Saviner, former Reagan advisor Paul Craig Roberts, and investment banker Matthew Simmons who advises the Bush administration. The consensus is that long before oil runs out later this century, the economy (particularly the U.S. economy) will most likely collapse from the inevitable forces of physics and the market system--unless we replace the corporatocracy’s lust for power with sensible solutions. The oil in the crust of the Earth is now half gone and demand is outstripping supply. Before long, we will take the precipitous fall, lemming-like into the sea without so much as a whimper of understanding. Given this scarcity consciousness, the future can only spell more wars, more pollution and more catastrophes.
Unfortunately, igrorance runs rampant. It is easy to critique the U.S./corporate policies from a progressive, environmental and traditional scientific point of view . It is much harder to convince these intellectuals that perhaps entropy has its limits. They fervently believe there is no free lunch in generating energy. Because the established political, econo-mic and scientific muse don’t have any very good answers, they allow our rulers by default to rape the planet for its remaining resources (oil is the current issue, water is next) while the powerful suppress alternatives in order to keep their profit-kingdoms going. This book gives opinions from the progressives themselves that well document the social critique— except for the science. Mainstream physics is powerful as far as it goes, but it is incomplete.
The irony, then, is that the very people who have a platform to press for change—the prog-ressives—are the very people who bow before the altar of an incomplete science, thereby for-feiting the very existence we all would like to have for ourselves and future generations. Leading progressive politicians and economists pay lip service to sustainability yet do not have a specific plan to implement it technically. It’s like not having an exit strategy for a for-eign war, such as in Iraq. The politicians talk about it but cannot delineate it or commit to it. Thus politicians and economists have not a clue about the underlying new science, and turn to conventional scientists who also don’t have a clue either. It’s a blind echo chamber leading us nowhere, just like the right wing media echo chambers that also stifle positive change.
At the heart of the issue is the science. I am a scientist. Since the late 1960s I have been a professor at various universities on energy policy, astronomy, physics and philosophy. I had also advised U.S. presidential candidates and congressional committees about what must be done about the energy crisis. It seems that the emerging debate in the public spotlight is between the vested oil interests (whose solution is get it while it’s there and then run for the hills and bunkers with trillions of dollars in profits) on the one hand, and the concerned academic, progressive and environmental interests (who mostly say the oil age is over with little hope or with exaggerated claims about solar or wind or biofuels or hydrogen), on the other hand. Both groups are scared that there seem to be, for now, no viable solutions beyond war, the Rapture and/or a coming dark age. I believe both interests are wrong in shutting off new possibilities. Both rely on existing mainstream science which dictates that we cannot find a more energy-dense and convenient fuel than oil. Both believe religiously in the so-called laws of thermodynamics (entropy) prohibit any new science of energy. Based on experience and observing many “proofs of concept” in many laboratories on five continents, I believe they are wrong. This kind of distraction often happens in scientific revolutions: the debate is reported in limited ways between two sides, but the real debate needs to embrace solutions that transcend the conventional wisdom. It would be like debating steamships, railroads, automobiles and dirigibles while the Wright brothers were first flying airplanes. The debates should have included the potential of aviation, denied even by the leading scientists of the time. The debate was uselessly postponed for years because of limited thinking of the spokespeople at that time. History is repeating itself.
I’ll give you an example of entropy chauvanism. In the summer of 2003, I testified to the California Energy Commission in a public forum entitled “Reducing California’s Dependence on Imported Petroleum”. We Californians should know: as electricity customers, we were robbed of billions of dollars by Enron and others. Yet my testimony met with disbelieving ears. physics professor Alan Rothenthal, about ninety years of age, was chairman of the commission for the hearings. He had been one of my professors when I was in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley during the 1960s. Rosenthal came up to me after my testimony and said, “Well, maybe we could improve the thermodynamic efficiency of our energy systems by a few tenths of one per cent per year and we could gradually improve our energy systems.”
He was what I would call an entropy addict. He took thermodynamics so seriously he didn’t believe that violations could ever be possible. And I had grown to know they are possible, based on reviewing extensive experimental and theoretical evidence to the contrary. These “laws” of thermodynamics are only theories that apply to a limited range of circumstances. There are many exceptions, now experimentally proven, that contradict the existing theory (e.g., Ilya Prigogine’s chaos theory which won him a Nobel Prize). The tragedy of all this is that many scientists and politicians and authors have missed out on the holy grail of new energy because of their limited thinking. They have formed an unwitting alliance with the oil plutocracy by denying the real solutions. Both groups have suppressed the solutions.
My intention in writing this book is to describe some answers based on natural science and common sense. My own current evaluation of the options is that there are many but we will have by far the best chance if we explore the new energy options whose economical and ecological potential is greatest. Total reliance on conventional renewables such as solar, wind, hydrogen, and biofuels will not be enough to replace current global energy demands, even with significant improvements in efficiency and conservation. They each require huge capital, materials and energy use to bring on line for the entire planet. Nuclear energy also has its limitations and hazards, as discussed in Chapter 2 of this book. Why, then, are the cleanest and most economical alternatives being suppressed if we have so many options?
The answer is up to us. We must take our power back. This includes you, the reader: we must all become educated about the answers. We must spread the word to family and friends if we want to participate in this great exercise in global democracy to counteract the tyranny that stokes our fears. The expropriation of nonrenewable resources and fighting wars make our rulers all the wealthier, and the rest of us, all the poorer. Developing revolutionary new energy and other Earth-saving and civilization-saving options would spoil their party. The fraudulent 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential elections seem to seal the fate of the U.S. as a fascist state opposed to innovation outside their own secrecy apparatus. New energy, space weapons and other advanced technologies are zealously guarded and denied.
It seems that solutions must come from outside of the imperial system and its progressive critics at least until they become educated. Towards that end, and to pursue a peaceful and affordable retirement, Meredith and I have found a new home in the Andes of Ecuador. We are founding a center for peace and sustainability to nurture global solutions in our use of energy, water, food and forestry—to implement the concepts and plans outlined in this book. I apologize I have not yet learned Spanish much yet but I promise I will. Meanwhile, I have entrusted this translation to my friend Prof. Manuel Santos at Universidad de la Salle in Costa Rica. This learning is a promise to Manuel and to you readers.
Our landing here has been like the eagle’s or the condor’s: clumsy, bumpy but with conviction. The eagle’s landing brings back many memories for me. I had been in the astronaut program in 1967-68 assigned to go to Mars sometime during the 1980s. This mission had been in NASA’s program plans before it was cancelled because of the war in Vietnam. I vividly recall Neil Armstrong’s first words after setting down on the Moon in 1969: “The eagle has landed.” Gazing at my U.S. passport, I see the eagle holding spears in one claw and olive branches in the other—the symbols of war and peace.
This brings to mind the ancient native American prophecies of the eagle and the condor. The North American eagle represents the rational, the technological, the innovative, the aggressive; the South American condor is symbolic of the mystical, the artistic, the creative, the gentle. Five hundred years ago the Spaniards conquered South and Central America, a brutal assault by the eagle onto the land of the condor. According to the prophecy, we have a chance once again for the two great birds to meet, either for a lasting peace or a war in which we will all perish. The choice is ours to make collectively.
I sometimes feel a weary eagle with olive branches awkwardly setting down in the land of the condor seeking to make peace with the gentle people of Ecuador, seeking ways to educate the peoples of the world for what seems to be our last chance for peace and sustainability. I see other eagles landing here from the exploitive North, with spears in their claws, demanding debt payments, drilling for oil, creating increasing poverty and misery, a modern U.S. version of the Spanish Conquistadors (see, for example, the 2004 book “Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man” by John Perkins). It then occurred to me that the indigenous and Latin peoples of the Americas may have a choice about which kind of eagle to embody into their futures, and that we can all play a part. We can globalize our futures through innovation and cooperation rather than competition and exploitation. To that end, we are building a retreat center where we plan to gather some of the world’s leading thinkers and receptive leaders.
We are excited to be among friends and new colleagues in Latin America, and we feel very welcome by the friendly people here. An example of projects envisioned would be the growing of industrial hemp (canamo) as a substitute for wood, petroleum and cotton for a variety of sustainable products and uses (explored in Chapter 3). Another, of course, is the support of safe new energy research and development (Chapter 2). And, more than ever, we will need to plan and implement the social structures to nurture these visions (Part II).
During 2003-04 I founded the New Energy Movement (www.newenergymovement.org), a nonprofit dedicated to research and education on clean, cheap and safe new energy options. This broad-based public movement supports developing a variety of energy options which go beyond the (still costly) conventional renewables such as solar, wind and biofuels. We wish to foster a new energy revolution which is responsive to the needs of all nature and its people rather than to the insatiable appetite of empire and its large corporations.
In order to fulfill the vision of a peaceful and sustainable future, we will need to fund and support new energy development and education in a publicly transparent way, yet be protected from the suppressions of empire. New energy research, consciousness research, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence combine to expand our potential to vast new horizons of being, hopefully in time to further prevent the ravages of destruction through war and ecocide. May our mutual efforts here in Latin America and throughout the world become crucibles for change so urgently needed to birth the coming paradigm shift.
I hope this book will bring you ideas you can work with for a better future. By strength in numbers, we will be able to reverse the darkness and bring in the light.