By Rod Van Mechelen
What women want in a mate influences how men act; at the same time, what men want in a mate influences how women act. - Mary Batten, Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates
The Good Earth
1992 Bellevue, Wash. - The good Earth is in trouble. No need to enumerate how. We know how. No need to say why. We know why. Or do we?
Presently, the popular wisdom is that men, by fulfilling their oppressive sex roles, are more or less responsible for the present plight of our planet. The problem with this, however, is that it's a little too pat. Too neat and simplistic, because men, by fulfilling those same roles, could resolve the problems confronting our planet. Thus, there is more to it than that.
Small is beautiful. The first time I heard that was in 1971, just before E. F. Schumacher's book, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered came out to provide an answer to the dire warnings contained in J. Forrestor's report to the Club of Rome.
Forrestor's report, based on a computer-simulation of human civilization and delineated by Donella H. Meadows in Limits to Growth, predicted the decline of civilization as we know it by the year 2028, and our demise soon thereafter.
Note: There is an updated version: Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, but it sounds like more of the same, so I would encouage you to read Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, instead. - Rod, July 15, 2012
Like many young men, I felt obligated to do something to fix this problem and, not coincidentally, gain the social status that would make me attractive to women. This is what men do -- nurture our community in ways that gain us the status and resources necessary to procure the love, affection and reproductive resources of women.
So, a few years before Schumacher's book told us what we needed to do, I threw my heart into the first Earth Day, exhorting all to beware the evils of our technological civilization.
In the Earth Days that followed, I helped spread the word our fragile planet was overpopulated, polluted and in trouble, and that we needed to find appropriate ways to maintain a sane status quo.
Many years later, in 1980 at the beginning my eighth year of college, I undertook to recreate Forrestor's first computer model -- the one foretelling our doom -- for a class project. This time, however, I added two modules of my own: development of resources in space, and periodic technological breakthroughs (coworkers at United Parcel Service, where we worked to pay our way through school, argued these things were the answer...the "pollution solution"...and I wanted to prove them wrong).
The results were startling. Where Forrestor's model showed pollution, overpopulation, climatic catastrophes, famine and war, the modified model portrayed a world straight out of Star Trek: Earth, a garden planet, a space-faring human population numbering in the trillions, and wealth that would make our present day elite envious.
"What went wrong?" I wondered. Perhaps I used too big a multiplier in the technology module, or too short an interval between breakthroughs. So I made some adjustments and ran the model again. The results were still spectacular.
This presented a problem. In my ideology, small was beautiful, technology was not a virtue, and back-to-nature was almost a holy proclamation. So either my ideology was flawed, or my model was in error. But with the exception of the two new modules, my model was identical to the one that had led to the first Earth Day back in 1971.
So I took a deep breath and asked, "What if my ideology is flawed?"
Consider the following facts:
This list goes on and on, but the important point is that ultimately, the colonization of our solar system offers us the chance to both preserve our planet, and to (literally) expand our horizons.
- Assuming anyone would want to live there, the entire population of the world could fit into a suburb the size of Texas.
- Most of the U.S. is uninhabited -- most Americans live within 200 miles of the coast, putting tremendous stress on the relatively temperate and fertile coastal regions, leaving the drier, less pleasant interiors for agricultural use (while we pave Washington state's Green River Valley -- one of the most fertile regions in the world -- with warehouses, we irrigate the prairies of eastern Washington and chastise the South Americans for destroying their rain forests; what's wrong with this picture?).
- The technology exists to beam clean energy from Solar Power Satellites down to Earth at a price that could compete with present day nuclear power plants.
- The science, though not the technology, exists to build Earth-like communities in space where goods could be manufactured in non-polluting factories.
- There is enough metal in the asteroids to meet our exponentially increasing demand for the next 50,000 years.
- Oxygen is one of the most abundant elements on the Moon, and it is possible to establish lunar mining sites to extract that oxygen, and metals and building materials for the factories in space.
- With solar power satellites, we would have the power to manufacture anti-matter in sufficient quantities to use as an extremely concentrated portable power source. Such power would make four hour jaunts from your garage to the moon possible, and a trip to the gas mines of Jupiter would be roughly equivalent to taking the Love Boat to Hawaii.
- Physicist Frederick Alzofon has done extensive work on a theory of gravity which may soon lead to the use of discrete, asymetric gravity generators as a kind of "gravity drive."
Note: At this time we appear to be on the cusp of a worldwide breakthrough in cold fusion. Andrea Rossi's "E-Cat" appears to be the most advanced and closest to commercial release, but others follow not far behind. Cold fusion is just one of the many technological breakthroughs just over the horizon that will, almost literally, change everything. In addition, I don't believe anything truly significant came of Dr. Alzofon's work, while, thanks to the Internet Reformation, the gravitational model of the universe could be replaced by a model based on electricity. - Rod, July 15, 2012
What's stopping us?
It would be easy to blame women. Females have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. This is biological, and we could assert they are holding us back with their fear of the unknown. But women are more than their female biology, there have been as many female as male pioneers, and I know too many female visionaries to accept such a simplistic conclusion. So maybe it's men we should blame.
Maybe the way men nurture within the traditional patriarchal culture is the problem, creating a human plague upon the good Earth. This traditional male role has taken us as far as it can, and now it must change or we will die in our own cesspool. But this idea is flawed, too. The historical fact is, macho pride (in the derisive American sense) is what got us to the Moon in the first place. Given free reign, men could function within the old role and still provide a space-faring future in which the Sun beams brightly through clean blue skies upon a garden planet called Earth. Men are not the problem.
If women and men aren't to blame, and if Patriarchy could provide a future not unkind to our planet, then where's the problem? Is the traditional male role a panacea? Should we give up our efforts to evolve a finer state of being and concentrate, instead, on doing Patriarchy well?
Some think so. I do not. Either way, whatever name we give our present dysfunctionality, it's not the one that will work.
The force holding us back is the prominence we give to victims. Acknowledging and caring for victims is one thing, but during the past 30 years we have gone far beyond this to reward and elevate victims to the status of celebrities. Anita Hill cries woe is me because Clarence Thomas told some raunchy jokes, and she goes from being a little-known teacher to in-demand author, well-paid speaker and celebrated victim.
Paula Jones claims trauma from a glimpse of the presidential penis and leaps from private obscurity to an enduring place in the public eye. Children in an Arkansas school run for cover as two classmates commit murder, and pundits transform a tragic criminal, civil and emotional concern into a case of permanent victim status; these kids, they claim, will never recover. (Are we to believe the many healthy children of war-torn Europe and Asia are built of sterner stuff?)
Another benefit of victim status is lenience. We are more likely to forgive the foibles of a victim. Liberals have based decades of penal reform on concern for "victims of circumstance." A racist remark from a black is less subject to censure. We understand, even sympathize, when a woman who was raped says she hates all men. Misguided compassion somehow makes it okay for a victim to victimize others. If they transgress, we understand and even celebrate them.
Using Victim Power means demanding that we give up ideas unacceptable to the victim-class, eradicating words from our vocabulary they find offensive, and proscribing behaviors that may not actually harm them. It means keeping up with the Jones's by holding the Jones's down.
Suppression is the tool of victim power: "I'm victimized by this person, this idea, this word, this behavior, and so there ought to be laws to lock up those people and prohibit those ideas, words and behaviors."
Thus, rather than work to solve the problems of survival, we concentrate on prohibiting ideas, words and behaviors, and on locking people up. One result is that, of all the industrialized nations, the U.S. has the highest number of incarcerated men per capita.
So? Our cities are overcrowded, anyway. Lock up offenders and keep them where they can't clog up our congested freeways.
This may be a neat solution, but overcrowding, not overpopulation, is the problem. Ill-conceived zoning laws, replacing villages and cities with sprawling suburbs, solving problems as they arise with pragmatic rag-patch solutions rather than thinking ahead, allowing an unprincipled profit-motive -- the desire to pragmatically make or steal the amounts of money necessary to procure in abundance the love, affection and reproductive resources of women -- rather than principled self-interest, to guide us.
Note: I am absolutely not opposed to capitalism, free markets and free enterprise. Just the opposite. But back when I wrote the passage above that's what it sounded like. But now, in the wake of the literally thousands of scandals surrounding Wall Street, the Fed and other central banks, and the "banksters," I hope it will be clear that what I was and am opposed to, is a corruption of capitalism. - Rod, July 15, 2015
We do have a problem, but overpopulation isn't it. According to economist Milton Friedman, it takes almost 7,000 people to manufacture just one pencil. Yes, one person may craft a single pencil, or even many, but to manufacture pencils in quantities sufficient to help teach children to read takes almost 7,000 to make just one. Think how many people it takes to manufacture a kidney dialysis machine. Or a transistor radio. Or the computer I'm using to write this article. Millions, because several tiers of technology must be sustained to produce the sub-components that then go into the fabrication of everything from life-saving hospital equipment to hairdryers.
The present human population is about 5.6 billion people. To produce a civilization that can both heal our good Earth and create a civilization with infinite horizons will require several billions more.
Ultimately, I believe our gender roles should change, but if there's any fatal dysfunctionality in our present roles, it's that in America, millions of men have changed, but women's egregious expectations have not, and pop feminists are using this ironic juxtaposition of male-liberated women and female-dominated men to create the illusion that most men are oppressors and most women are oppressed.
This illusion - this big lie - which has been said so loud and so often and by so many that it is taken as an almost self-evident truth, is at least half the malaise afflicting our good Earth, because it blinds us to the facts that women contribute as much to the problem as men, and that the male predisposition to solve problems - i.e., how men nurture -is a major part of the solution.
Women contribute their share to the demise of our precious planet in many ways. The cosmetics industry is just one example. How many chemical waste products does Estee Lauder pour into the environment? Another is measured by the number of incompetent, ill-intentioned, philanderous politicians women elect into office (in general elections, female voters outnumber male voters by about 10 million; remember that next time somebody prattles about the "year of the woman" -- women, not men, have been determining the American political agenda for decades).
Men solve problems
Men, on the other hand, have been contributing to the "pollution-solution" for decades. This is not to say women haven't been there, too, but with a few notable exceptions, women's efforts have most often been of the brighten-the-corner-where-you-are variety, like cleaning up oil-drenched birds, or whining at men to fix things. Masculine modes of nurturing takes a different form: working to create a "wow!" future, or by responding to the crying of women by seeking solutions to global problems. These generally elicit two disparate strategies, one focusing on maintaining a "safe" status quo, the other leading to the development and construction of both massive and micro technologies.
Moving Japanese-Americans into "relocation camps" during WWII is one example of the former, development of the Atom bomb is an example of the latter, and both were bad solutions to bad problems, and we could attribute these to our traditional but dysfunctional gender roles, and cite this as evidence that it is time to change these gender roles. But there are too many examples where, even by modern pop feminist standards, male behaviors within these roles have been entirely appropriate.
Firefighters provide a good example. Despite that women now (appropriately) have the right to be firefighters, so long as lifting and carrying injured people up and down stairs and ladders is necessary, most firefighters will remain men. And by the standards of Patriarchy, fire fighting is a very masculine role, protecting the community and maintaining a safe status quo.
Another good example where men appropriately protect the status quo is in law enforcement. The beating of Rodney King notwithstanding, the fact remains that when you're alone and your car - or social order - breaks down, there are few people you'd rather see than a police officer. They have one job: to maintain a safe status quo. Most of them (most of who are men) do this well.
Still, men, with their "juvenile" fascination for technological toys, took us to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, didn't they? Yes, the men voted into office by women did, and we're not out of the woods, yet. But technology developed by men also brought us Enya's Caribbean Blue, Tastybird frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and the refrigerators to store them in, and a host of marvels most have yet to discover.
Unique Mobility is my favorite example. While Detroit, the Japanese and many others struggle to find a way to build the ultimate automotive solution to pollution, Unique Mobility wants to combine its ultra-efficient motor with a small gas engine to produce the first practical gasoline-electric car. A car that will get more than 100 miles per gallon, and perform better than a Porsche or Lexus.
Note: I wrote that before hybrid cars existed. Today, of course, they are ubiquitous and are likely about to be supplanted by at least two far superior technologies that are also a lot more fun: ultra-capacitors that will make electricity very competitive with internal combustion, and cold fusion steam. - Rod, July 15, 2012
Meanwhile, a lot of men, and a few women, are working to make real an electromagnetic cannon, called a coil gun, that will enable us to shoot tons of equipment into space where construction workers will build the first solar power satellites.
Evolving gender roles
To say our present environmental ills result primarily from dysfunctional gender roles is at once too simplistic, yet to some degree valid. To evolve more appropriate gender roles would resolve many problems, but to revert to our traditional roles would, too. For the time being, therefore, the wiser course might simply be to ask, what can we as men do, now?
First, we need to understand that most women are not going to meet us half-way because the public agenda is being set by a loud-mouthed few, and most women still want what they have always wanted: men with resources first, and nice guys, last. We also need to know that those men who do succumb to the siren call to cater to women's insatiable appetite for stuff are, in the fullest sense of the word, fulfilling a dysfunctional gender role.
Second, we can choose to take the high-moral ground, and resist the oppressive use of victim power. If we succeed, one thousand years from now no one will care. If we fail, however, or instead invest our energy in the "controlled growth" campaign so popular among the upper-middle and upper-class men, who can get "nookie" any time they want it, and are therefore less inclined to do anything which might threaten their status, our progeny will decry our lassitude. Assuming, that is, there's anyone left to remember a time when the air was fresh and we could honestly call our home, the good Earth.
Rod Van Mechelen