Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ancient Futures: Ladakh





Taken from Project Himalaya
Helena Norberg-Hodge author of "Ancient Future: Learning From Ladakh"spent years in Ladakh (since 1975) during which she witnessed the beauty of their culture as well as its slow decline caused by the pressures of modernization. The documentary above is based on her book.

Ladakh (Little Tibet)--located on the Western border of the Tibetan Plateau in a desert-like place that seems almost inhospitable--is a culture (over a thousand years old) centered on traditions and strong family values. They foster the virtues of unity, equality, and respect for one another and the earth (which provided them with precious natural resources). Despite the lack of a monetary system, they lived peacefully, happily, and without greed. Before assimilation into Western culture, neither waste nor poverty existed in Ladakh's small community. The magnetic pull of the Western dream of wealth and power disrupted their peaceful way of life. While it works for us, their environment demands a different type of knowledge. For instance, a Western education does not provide them with the means to survive in their own society that demands intricate knowledge of their land. In Helena Norberg-Hodge's 'The Pressure to Modernise" she describes the specific type of knowledge the Ladakhis need that the newer generation lack:

For generation after generation, Ladakhis grew up learning how to provide themselves with clothing and shelter; how to make shoes out of yak skin and robes from the wool of sheep; how to build houses out of mud and stone. Education was location-specific and nurtured an intimate relationship with the living world. It gave children an intuitive awareness that allowed them, as they grew older, to use resources in an effective and sustainable way.

None of that knowledge is provided in the modern school. Children are trained to become specialists in a technological, rather than an ecological, society. School is a place to forget traditional skills, and worse, to look down on them...They learn from books written by people who have never set foot in Ladakh, who know nothing about growing barley at 12,000 feet or about making houses out of sun-dried bricks.

Once a community that ate together, built homes together, and shared all they possessed, certain members fell prey to the Western dream, slowly losing their sense of traditions that led to deterioration of the closeness between neighbors and families. As modernization took over, a division of classes evolved along with a high degree of unhappiness. Eventually, respect for land vanished, proven by the contamination of the once pristine rivers and the smell of diesel fuel.  Living is not a matter of community, but of competition. There is no denying that modernization aided them in profound ways, but Helena Norberg-Hodge is saddened to see the decay of crucial relationships, between their fellowmen and the land, in order to embrace a less sustainable way of life.


You can view excerpts from her book at the following site:
http://www.survival.org.au/books_ladakh.php

                             or

You can read her article, "The Pressure to Modernise" here:
http://www.localfutures.org/publications/online-articles/the-pressure-to-modernise


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Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Galapagos: An Evolutionary Wonder

Check out the BBC documentary at the end of this entry. 


Galapagos (Google)


The Wasteland of Life: The Origins of the Galapagos Archipelago

From a fiery pit burst forth the world of the Galapagos Islands. In the Pacific Ocean, a volcanic hotspot boiling at over 2,000 degrees gave birth to the layers upon layers of lava, becoming
barren rock inhospitable to life that, ironically, is responsible for a biodiversity found nowhere else. This chain of 13 main islands demonstrates a natural phenomenon that drastically alters our perception on nature. Here is a world of extremes where each island varies in species diversity, environmental conditions, and means of adaptations.
The Marine Iguana underwater
           Over 500 species are possible because of the hot and cold undercurrents that allow for such high diversity. From high and low, wildlife inhabits the Galapagos creating a complex ecosystem with an elaborate food web. Garden eels, Eagle rays, and Scalloped Hammerhead sharks swam in, while seabirds— attracted to the high level of fish— made this place home. The most miraculous occurrence is the arrival of and evolution of land animals. Those animals that survived the flashflood were abandoned on a wasteland. One type that adapted well was the marine iguana.  They were able to take on the temperature of their environment and thus are used to the heat extremes. The reptiles that were once endothermic evolved to a higher level of amphibian/reptiles; they are now exothermic and can swim underwater for up to fifteen minutes to catch food with its new food resource being algae. No other iguana on this planet shares this unique capability. Such evolution further took place in the diversity of interactions.

Different Island, Different Story of Interactions

Sally Lightfoot crab (Google)
            Where nothing existed, life came to be along with an abundance of species-habitat interaction and species-species interactions. On each island the habitats and interactions are different among species. The different types of soil (textures and depth) and vegetation determine the animals that will live in that habitat.
          Each island is a world of its own, a characteristic resulting from the distance and age among them. When tectonic plates glide over a hotspot, a new island dawns and eventually they move away from each other becoming dormant. From West to East exists a chain from young to old impacting the diversity of life that thrives on the islands. Of these, Fernandina is the youngest and most volcanically active. Fernandina is home to the marine iguanas that can be seen sunning on the rocks. Twelve times older is the largest island, next to Fernandina, Isabella, which was named after the Queen of Spain. It also has a wider range of diversity. Since it has more vegetation, reptiles can be found roaming around. 
Giant Tortoise (Google)
            Examples of interactions are prominent throughout both islands. The iguanas befriend the Sally Lightfoot crabs (parasites that groom them), while tortoises and finches develop a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. The Galapagos finch stands before the Galapagos giant tortoise, and the tortoise stretches out its neck to be cleaned of ticks. In this way, the tortoise is no longer beleaguered with the parasites and the finch has received a scrumptious meal (“Galapagos Tortoise”). While such peaceful interactions are ideal, predators are no strangers to the Galapagos Islands.
Hawk feeding on marine Iguana (Google)
On Santa Cruz, the second largest island of the Galapagos, the Galapagos hawk preys upon seabirds, insects, and female marine iguanas. One prime example of this interaction is that of the marine iguana and the hawk. In a burrow, the female iguana lays her eggs, a process that weakens her ability to guard herself and the burrow. From afar the hawk patiently waits for the moment she decides to return to the marina. The moment she abandons her safe haven, he attacks her by pressing her firmly against the hot sand, which results in heat exhaustion, killing the iguana. While the marine iguana cannot safely breed in this area, the Waved Albatross has found a safe habitat to do so.
Espanola further exemplifies the uniqueness of the Galapagos. The clumsy Waved Albatross breeds nowhere else.  Upon arrival, the male awaits the female for several weeks. Once both are present, a dance ensues consisting of beak fencing, fake preening, and lastly a bow. Nowhere else can the pristine beauty of the Galapagos be found, and yet this only first became acquainted with history in 1535.

How History Embraced the Galapagos
Waved Albatross Courtship (Google)
History was graced with the presence of the Galapagos in 1535 in a letter from father Tomas Berlanga, addressed to the King of Spain.  While the Bishop was sailing to Peru, the ship was swept off course and thus the crew came upon a place that resembled hell. Through his description, Galapagos was transformed into the underworld of a fantasy novel. His letter referred to the island as “a place where it seemed as if God had showered stones.” It was deficient of the resources they needed to survive, such as fresh water. Despite his complaints, the creatures dwelling in this foul land fascinated him: the turtles, iguanas, and birds. This discovery fascinated the Spaniards and eventually became a hideout for pirates as they attacked the Spanish. However, the knowledge of its existence endangered several species.

Humanity’s Inhumanity: Species Endangerment
            At one point in time the Galapagos harbored pirates, and although their reign ended in the 17th century, their impact upon the population growth was drastic. In their desperate search for oil, they preyed upon the majestic sperm whales. Their over hunting proved profitable for them but was costly to biodiversity. The sperm whales were wiped out but are now returning. However, such catastrophic events do not remain in the past and this issue is currently a growing environmental concern.
Google Image
            The fur seals’ “thick luxurious coat” is attracting the greedy eye of hunters.  Such greed has devastating consequences upon the seals, and thus they are at the brink of extinction. Giant tortoises share a similar misfortunate fate. Their meat was valuable for ship travel and as a result their species was almost eradicated. The cruelty persists in the 21st century through migration of people, tourism, and overfishing (“Environmental Issues of the Galapagos”).
            In search of better professions, the islands are being invaded at an alarming rate.
The current population that lives on the island is “more than 20,000” and they are “doubling every eleven years, which means that there will be 40,000 people on the Galapagos Islands by 2014(“Environmental Issues of the Galapagos”). The environment is thus being plagued with garbage which especially pollutes the environment once burned. Furthermore, the people are beginning to exhaust the natural resources. The bleak future of the Galapagos is propelled by the influx of tourists.
         Drawn to the mystery and exoticism of the Galapagos, tourists flood the islands. The joint pressures of residents and tourism lead to “unknown numbers of invasive plant and animal species driving out native species…and habitats are degraded at alarming rates” (“Conservation”). The population growth has had severe effects on the islands’ ecosystem.  Their needs grow in congruous with their population, if not faster.
            The growing population’s insatiable hunger for more has led to overfishing.  The fishing industry provides innumerous jobs to migrants. Sea cucumbers and sharks are in imperil, “both popular in Asian markets for their aphrodisiac or medicinal qualities” (“Environmental Issues of the Galapagos”). While the National Park attempts to enforce their regulations, their good intent is met with opposition from the fishermen. The strife between the two parties is far from over. Fortunately, “the Galapagos Islands are still home to most of the species that lived there before the arrival of humans” (“Conservation”). Furthermore, their everlasting contribution to science is priceless.

And the Theory of Evolution is Born
Finch (Google)
In 1835 the ship’s naturalist, Charles Darwin, was thoroughly immersed in his fascination with the Galapagos. He made the “conviction that the entire earth is in flux.” He began questioning his perception on nature and began collecting specimens from different islands in hopes of understanding the mysteries he encountered. During his exploration he noted that different islands varied in climate and species. On Floriana Island, Darwin met an English man who informed him that the shapes on the shell o f the tortoise show their origin; Tortoises, thus, are an incontestably strong example of evolution in the Galapagos, since the most successful at survival are the ones that “spread throughout the island.” Not only did the tortoises intrigue him, so did the diversity of finches. He collected several finches and took them back to this ship to study.
Tortoises, he noticed, varied in size and shape according to their habitat (or which island they were on). For example, the lush places were home to the Domeback tortoises, the largest of the races, and the Saddledback tortoises were smaller and are located in the drier islands. As for the finches, there were thirteen different species with different sized beaks for specific purposes, each related to their niche. For example, the ones with a pointy beak needed it to get small insects. Overall, tortoises and finches led him to his famous evolutionary theory.

Galapagos: A World in Itself
The Galapagos is a tapestry of life, interwoven with a diversity of species encountered nowhere else on Earth. It is “a natural laboratory for evolution” and the place accredited by Charles Darwin for inspiring his Theory of Evolution. However, the Galapagos is victim to mankind, raising important environmental issues. Overfishing and the influx of tourists and local inhabitants are increasing the degradation of the region and species endangerment.  Hopefully, with stringent regulations and education of the masses on the importance of the ecosystem, the lives and habitats of these species will be safe from extinction.


References:
Note- Most of the information I garnered from watching documentaries.





"Conservancy." Galapagos Conservancy. 9 Apr. 2008            
      
"Environmental Issues of the Galapagos." Galapagos Islands. 2007. Ecuador 
       Explorer.Com Guide to Ecuador, Quito,. 8 Apr. 2008             
        
"GaláPagos Tortoise." Wikipedia. 9 Apr. 2008. 9 Apr. 2008                
               
"Santa Cruz Island." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica     
       Online. 9.  Apr.  2008  



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Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

14 Exotic Animals

Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

When I was younger I believed that some of the most fascinating animals stemmed from the imagination. While that is true, in our world exists astonishing marvels. While there are countless of amazing animals, here are some that intrigued me.

1. Barreleye Fish: 
Google Image
 Its eyes are in its transparent head, which are the green orbs protruding at the top of its head. Since barreleyes live in the deep ocean, the transparent dome-like head helps collect more light to help them maneuver their way around the dark ocean depths. Also, their eyes look upward, allowing them to detect the movements/silhouettes of prey above them. Studies suggest that they are able to look forward as well to see what they're consuming. 
National Geographic




Yoda (Google)

2. Tube-nosed Fruit Bat:  Yoda-Bat
So a flying Yoda was discovered  hiding out in a rainforest in Papua New Guinea in 2009. It shares the same characteristics of the typical fruit bat, ingesting fruits and dispersing the seeds throughout the rainforest to help new plants grow.






3. Encantado Dolphins: Pink Dolphins!
Google
Google
These dolphins live in the Amazon river. Not all are pink, some are white or gray. Their pink color is due to the expansion of their blood vessels, which helps them release body heat. In other words, the red blood vessels make them appear pink! They can turn their necks 180 degrees due to an unfused vertebrae. Unlike other dolphins, they have a hump on their back, instead of a dorsal fin. They are called Encantado or "Enchanted One" because according to legend the pink dolphin transformed into a handsome young man at night and came ashore to seduce girls using music. Their love affairs often resulted in illicit children.













4. The Mexican Axolotl
When I read the short story "Axolotl" by Julio Cortazar a few years ago, it led me to research what exactly an Axoltol is. I found their faces adorable (ok, some are pretty creepy) because they seem to have a tiny cartoonish smile. In any case, this mole salamander remain in the larval stage meaning they never fully become a salamander. They can grow back body parts torn away or bitten off by predators (making them neotenic) Some people keep them as pets. So who wants one?












5. The Golden Tabby Tiger a.ka. Strawberry Tiger


Their unique coloration is caused by a recessive gene. Strawberry tigers are extremely rare, even rarer than the white tiger. Apparently less than a 100 exist in the world.
 6.  The Dumbo Octopus
Unlike other octopuses, the Dumbo Octopus swallows its prey whole. It earned its name due to the tiny fins on the side of its head that resemble ears, which it uses, along with its arms, to swim.















7.  The Anglerfish: A Courtship To Envy
Male Anglerfish
Female Anglerfish
Have you seen Finding Nemo? Then chances are that you've seen an anglerfish. The lovely overly attractive fish to the right is actually a female. The glowing fishing rod-like object on her head is used to attract prey. Hence, they are called the Fishermen of the sea. The male anglerfish is attached to this Aphrodite, but he's so tiny you hardly notice him. Not sure what he sees in her, but beauty lies in the eye of the beholder no matter how questionable it may be at times. When mating, he attaches himself to the back of the female, biting deeply into her skin and releasing an enzyme that slowly consumes the male as he loses his internal organs and life. His eyeballs, heart, brain and all that is him are sacrificed to fuse the pair together, thus leaving behind a pair of gonads that release sperm. Truly the most romantic of courtships, right?

Can you spot the male?

8. Glass Frog

















These unusual critters have semi-transparent skin that reveals their intestinal tract, heart, and liver. Since they are extremely small, only about 1 inch to 3 inches long, they are difficult to find.












9.  Star-nosed Mole

The Star-nosed Mole has a set of 22 tentacles surrounding its nose. Although they have eyes, they are functionally blind and so use their tentacles to detect its surroundings, find prey (yummy earthworms), and prevent particles from entering its nose. Besides digging tunnels, they are surprisingly great swimmers and also eat fish.






















10. Angora Rabbit
"It's so fluffy I'm gonna die! It's so fluffy!"- Despicable Me
They make great pets, have extremely soft, silky, fur that require a great deal of brushing. Good 
news though, they love being brushed.




















11. Narwhal

The Unicorns of the sea! The tusk protruding from the head of the male arctic whale is actually a twisted tooth projecting from its upper jaw that can grow up to 10 feet long (That's two of me!). Males joust with their tusk to gain dominance or to win over the heart of a female. They weigh almost 2 tons, are between 13-16 feet long (females being smaller, around 13 feet), and can live up to 40 to 50 years.




12.  Yeti Crab  (Kiwa Hirsuta)

Discovered in 2005 near the Easter Islands, the yeti crab has long silky hair covering its legs that contain filamentous bacteria. This fashionista was named after the abominable snowman, the mythological yeti. The use of their hairy pincers has yet to be concretely determined, however they may be used for feeding, mating and possibly to clean out harmful toxins because it lives near hydrothermal vents that release poisonous toxins threatening the lives of some animals.




13.  Sea pig

Aren't these guys adorable? Okay, maybe not.  This pig-slug is actually a clear sea cucumber that can grow up to 4 inches long. They live in the deep ocean in the Pacific Northwest eating particles they find in the sand.










14. Rosey-lipped Batfish



Pucker up, because the rosy-lipped batfish is ready for a kiss :) Off the coast of Costa Rica on Cocos Island this red-lipped beauty awaits. Do not confuse with the
Red-Lipped Batfish

]
red-lipped batfish found on the Galapagos Island. The Rosey-lipped batfish does not swim. Instead it uses its fins to walk.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Venus Project: Designing the Future

So my boyfriend introduced me to the idea of the Venus Project, which centers on the vision of a resource-based economy that does not depend on money to thrive. While I've read into the various oppositions towards Jacque Fresco's idea (when isn't there an opposition? Part of the many dichotomies of life, right?), and it's not a flawless plan,  I'm drawn to it.

Check out my boyfriend's research paper. It's pretty awesome.
Through this research paper I intend to explore and critically analyze the ideas proposed by Jacque Fresco in his Venus Project initiative. I will study and interpret his motives and reasoning for launching such an endeavor. Through examining conflicting perspectives, I will assess the general feedback so that I may objectively evaluate its legitimacy as a proposed solution to our social and economic hardships. I believe that the ideas proposed in the Venus Project would by no means cure all the problems in the world, but would serve as a significant step in the right direction.


                       I want you to take a walk with me.  The purpose of which is for us to achieve a greater understanding of events transpiring right before our eyes.  To achieve such an understanding, we need not do more than look.  Look around.  Look at our island.  What do you see?  Do you see the corruption, the poor infrastructure, the violence?  Now look at our nation.  The games politicians play, the deception, the lies, do you see them as well?  Look at our beautiful earth, the mother to all life and our home.  Do you see the poverty, the pollution, the war?  Open your eyes and tell me if you witness the multitude of atrocities gone unanswered and the utter lack of consideration for human life.  Now, close your eyes and look inside.  Look inside and ask yourself, “Is this right?  Is this the way the world should operate?  Is THIS God’s plan?”  I take this walk with myself every day and I look.  I see the injustices, the famine, the untruths, the greed, the mistreatment of my people, of our people, and I feel their pain.  I feel the pain of those in need and denigrate those who knowingly put them in such deplorable conditions.  Corruption, desolation and despair spread as far as the eye can see and beyond, and still no sign of salvation.  No sign until now.
Enter the Venus Project.
                 
     What is the Venus Project?

Austerely put, the Venus Project is nothing more than a proposed solution to the issues that have plagued humanity from its existence to the myriad of problems found at all social levels today.  It is not only a solution to address the enslavement of our people via a system geared only towards increased profit, but also a solution to help protect and sustain our Earth so that she may prosper along with all her inhabitants.  Creator Jacque Fresco suggests that, “The Venus Project offers a comprehensive plan for social reclamation in which human beings, technology, and nature will be able to coexist in a long-term, sustainable state of dynamic equilibrium.”  The way the Venus Project plans to tackle these problems is by the complete re-haul of our culture and social structure.  Fresco believes that through modifications, such as the replacement of the monetary system with a resource-based economy (which will later be explained in greater detail), the ousting away of current political systems, the implementation of clean, renewable, self-sustaining energy, and a careful, more precise approach to infrastructure, we can all see a dramatic rise in the quality of life for everyone. To better grasp the emergence of the Venus Project it is crucial to first take a look at the man behind the plan, Jacque Fresco.

   Biography of Jacque Fresco (founder of Venus Project) 
       Note:  I wrote this part to help him out.
Jacque Fresco was born on March 13, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York City to Issac and Lena Fresco.  From a young child, Fresco found freedom from the constraints of a formal education through teaching himself and spent much of his time at the library.  His interests lay not in the typical subjects offered at school, but in subjects pertaining to the studies of Einstein, Darwin, and the future.  He also possessed a creative spirit, which he fostered by indulging himself in painting, acting, and sketching.  These skills, sketching more specifically, would assist him in designing and developing his vision of an economy free from the entrapment and suffering brought about by a monetary system.  He noted the flaws of society’s current economy most strongly when he experienced the Great Depression’s crippling affects.  The Great Depression ignited Fresco’s curiosity regarding the function of society and mankind’s fate, much of which he later explores in his book Looking Forward that details the errors of mankind’s way of thinking and describes all that will have to change in order to secure a better future.  Determined to learn more about society, Fresco studied technocracy, a type of government where decisions come from scientists and engineers, instead of politicians.
Fresco studied structural design in Los Angeles and began designing alternative aircraft designs while working for Douglas Aircraft Company.  He honed his design skills further when he joined the army during World War II and transferred to the Air Force where he worked in a special unit, Wright Feld, that handled futuristic designs.  There he created about forty designs a day.  His advanced ideas earned him a reputation in the aircraft industry that highlighted him as “a man twenty years ahead of his time.”  Eager to continue his futuristic designs, he later encountered, in the mid-1940s, Earl Muntz and Michael Shore, who he worked with in creating inexpensive modern homes.  He spent much of his time lecturing and teaching technical design while working as the director of Scientific Research Laboratories.  During this time, roughly between the late 1940s and early 1950s, he researched and worked on various inventions, even creating model designs for science-fiction movies.

Eventually, Fresco moved to Miami, Florida in the mid-1950s where he conducted various lectures on society and conjured up a ten-year, social change plan called, “Project Americana.”  Project Americana took the form of a circular machine-operated city that included a means of helping other nations as well as introducing a new school curriculum.  The plan led him to establish, in 1971, Sociocyberneering, Inc, now known as the Venus Project, which utilized “the most sophisticated forms of science and technology toward problem solving…an approach at the restructuring of society in humanistic terms.” The Venus Project embodies his vision of a better more sustainable future for mankind.

 C.   Reasons for Implementation
Jacque Fresco was not the only person to understand the dire situation our current economy is in and the ominous ramifications it could have if continued unchecked.  Companies and corporations leading the global economy are driven solely by the motive to increase profit, neglecting the pursuit of proper morals and the well-being of humankind.  The blame does not fall solely on them, however, for they are just trying to excel in a system that is designed to allow such corruptions that start as high up as the Federal Reserve.

The last time in American history when the debt was completely paid off was in 1835 when President Andrew Jackson shut down the central bank that preceded the Federal Reserve.  Jackson warned of the dangers of implementing another central bank when he stated,  “The bold efforts the present bank has made to control the Government…are but premonitions of the fate that awaits the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution, or the establishment of another like it.”  His warning would be short-lived, however.  In 1913, international bankers managed to install another central bank:the Federal Reserve, assuring the enslavement of the American people through a system of perpetual debt for years to come.

     Specifics of Project

  1.     Resource-Based Economy

The fundamental concept at the heart of the Venus Project is the transformation of being a monetary-based economy to that of a resource-based economy.  A resource-based economy is an economic system in which all of the resources of the earth become the shared heritage of all its people.  This concept relies on the notion that technology and society have evolved to the post-scarcity era.  Post-scarcity suggests that we have the means to produce enough resources to provide for everyone, whereas they are no longer scarce.  Accomplishing tasks in a resource-based economy prove much easier for the fact that it is not a matter of having the appropriate funding, but rather, simply having the resources.

  2.     Technology & Government

It may seem peculiar to have technology and government grouped within the same category but once we take a closer look at what Jacque Fresco had in mind, it becomes a little less obscure.  Fresco suggests that technology is the leading contributor to the betterment of the quality of life for people. He states that  “It is not politicians who solve problems; they have no technical capabilities…It is the technicians that produce the desalination plants, the technicians gives you electricity.  It is technology that solves problems, not politics.”  However, technology cannot progress without the investment of money, and unfortunately, those with the money seldom find profit in such ventures.  For example, the last thing an oil company would want is for the utilization of an alternative means of energy.  Thus, bent towards self-preservation of their own interests, the oil company would do what it can for it to stay relevant resulting in the stifling and asphyxiation of technology. 

Alexander Hamilton once wrote, “Why has government been instituted at all?  Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”  While this has truths to it, our apparent solution was to appoint equally as passionate men to dictate and govern the masses, and we have all seen where this road leads.  If we have the resources to provide for everyone and people are encouraged to remove themselves from their selfish motives and seek a more communistic approach to our society, would people still need governance?

 3.     Infrastructure
Jacque Fresco uses his background in (see bio) to utilize a very effective means of city planning.  He says that it would be more effective to build new, sophisticated cities rather than trying to improve the outdated ones we have today.  The idea of these new cities is to “to operate with minimum expenditure of energy using the cleanest technology available, which will be in harmony with nature to obtain the highest possible standard of living for everyone.”

The cities are circular shaped with a central dome at the center that contains the cybernated systems used to maintain core automated city functions.  Also included in the central dome are educational facilities, health and child-care facilities, and computerized communications networking systems.  Moving away from the center of the city, encompassing the central dome are the centers for cultural activities such as arts, theater, exhibitions, concerts and various forms of entertainment.  Following the outward pattern comes the design and development center for research and city planning, then the dining and amenities section.  The greater the distance away from the center of the circular city, the more area is obtained which makes the next vast area ideal for residential living.  On the outskirts of the city, are indoor hydroponic, outdoor agriculture, and clean energy facilities, surrounded by a circular waterway for irrigation and filtration.

4.     Energy
Without our earth, we have nothing.  To this point we have been too preoccupied with monetary gain to really take into consideration and act on the negative effects of our energy uses.  The issues must be addressed soon before we not only destroy our motherland, but in turn ourselves through our own selfish disposition.  There are many alternative forms of clean, renewable energy that we have yet to even begin to tap into the huge mass of potential.  Fresco says, “At present, we don’t have to burn fossil fuels, we don’t have to use anything that will contaminate the environment there are many sources of energy available.”  Solar and wind energy are arguably the two most popular alternative sources of energy but are nowhere near reaching their true potential.  One hour of solar energy at high noon, contains more energy than what the entire world consumes in an entire year. 

While wind and solar energy are well known there are many other forms of energy given directly to us from the natural flow and rhythms of our planet.  Geothermal energy, wave and tidal energy are all capable means of supplying us with great amounts of energy.  A 2006 study conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on geothermal energy showed that 13,000 ZJ of power are available within the Earth with a possibility of 2,000 ZJ able to be utilized with improved technology.  Given that the entire world uses roughly 0.5 ZJ of power in a year, we currently have the means to power the entire world for the next 4,000 years.  So here you can see that we have total energy abundance without the need of pollution or a price tag.

      Reaction


       Personal Reaction
      I took a great liking to everything this project was about from the moment I learned of it.  It is painfully obvious to me that the world, as a whole, is not being guided in the right direction for the benefit of the few.  The sad thing is that if the Earth itself continues to be the butt of the exploitation, no one will win.  While I do believe that some of the ideas proposed may seem far-fetched and quite a bit of a reach from where we are today, my eyes have been open to the horrors and corruption of our current system far too long for me to not fully support such a noble attempt at an alternative.

       Negative Reaction
Jacque Fresco and his proposed plan for salvation faces three main types of opposition; those who are comfortable with the current social structure, those who find his plan too idealistic and those who fail to get involved due to his lack of credentials.  Anyone content with their role in the current social design may not see the reason for packing up shop, turning in the chips and starting, basically, from scratch.  This is why I urge that people take the time to really look around.  Although you’ve managed to secure you and your family’s well-being, does that mean you turn a blind eye to the other suffering families?  With a system of built-in, perpetuating debt, the better you are doing for yourself, that means the worse the other person is doing.
Others argue that Fresco’s ideas are too far into the future, saying that he “has no sensible plan to achieve it and is totally irrelevant to today’s problems.”  Many who share this viewpoint may or may not necessarily agree with what he proposes but think that there will be no effective means of achieve such unrealistic goals.  Those turned off by Fresco’s lack of credentials, are usually the sentiments of investors that choose not to support due to the fact that while Fresco has a wide base of knowledge and understanding of many subject areas, his lack of formal education is a major deterrent for people coming aboard.
  
        Social Significance
The Social Significance of the Venus Project, I feel goes without saying.  The complete reformation of our social structure so that humankind, technology and nature can live together in equilibrium without the negative aspects of our current social systems, will only be the most significant undertaking in human history.  The systems and institutions of today are outdated and not on par with the level of which we can create, build and plan in this day and age.  Once given the chance to really open their eyes and see the possibilities of greatness that lie ahead for mankind, then I feel people will be more inclined to get involved and support the cause.


CONCLUSION
The main objective of my research was to thoroughly investigate the mechanics of Jacque Fresco’s proposed Venus Project, through which I believed that I would find that the project would not completely remedy all of society’s ailments, but make sufficient strides in addressing issues that are in desperate need of reform.  Based on my findings, I would have to agree, for the most part, with my hypothesis.  Although all of Fresco’s ideas could work in theory, they lack the support and more importantly the funding for his dream to be realized anytime soon.  Many skeptics argue that his views are far too idealistic to work, but then I ask, what is the alternative?  Are we to continue conformed to a system proven to be corrupt?  Are we to humbly comply with a world that takes its people for granted and continues to exploit us for the sake of increased profits?  At the beginning of my paper I asked you to take a walk with me, and I am very grateful you chose to do so.  Through our walk we opened our eyes to the fraudulent nature of how our society is really set up and ran.  We managed to obtain a greater understanding of steps that can be taken towards a more righteous, unified, communistic path.  Unfortunately, everyone is not willing to take that walk.  For some, it is easier to keep their eyes closed and to live their entire lives having never looked at all.  Although it is often said that ignorance is bliss, I feel that the deliverance from ignorance is the far greater pleasure.  I have confidence in time however, and feel that slowly but surely, people will come around and choose to open their eyes and take that walk with me.  I only hope that eyes are opened before it is too late.

  REFERENCES

Designing the Future by Jacque Fresco, c. 2007

Venus Project Website - http://www.thevenusproject.com/index.php

The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty, & War by Jacque Fresco

Looking Forward by Jacque Fresco and Ken Keyes


Zeitgeist: Addendum directed and produced by Peter Joseph

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Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.