Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Active Learning and SMART Community Our Only Way Forward


There has been no rational attack on the problems of sustainability within the local or national political dialogue. No candidate has come to grips with the concrete technical, interpersonal and political challenge of reducing our energy and material resource consumption while maintaining a satisfactory-to-improving quality of life for all U.S. citizens. 

Our polity is our way of life, and the American polity is an ecosphere-destroying monstrosity due in large measure to our living memory history of in-group/out-group racist social allergy and the resulting flight into ridiculous and grossly inefficient suburban sprawl. There is, after all - short of catastrophic depopulation - only one way for your species to go within its ecosphere, and that way is toward intensive urban densification and concentration. We will either all learn to get along, or, we will perish in the process of our continuing inability to do so.

If we take a 1000 year viewpoint, it becomes obvious that our present living styles can not continue and ultimately the shortage of raw materials will force us to change. This means that conservation must be a principle activity and we need to start now. Geometry and values are the principle factors defining how we adapt to energy and resource scarcity. We must change our current living arrangements and interpersonal/social values so as to make the optimal use of what is available. 

“Walking to work will save the earth” must become our national anthem. Reforming society into very dense urban monads containing buildings and equipment needed for most activities that will require almost no transportation will save large amounts of energy. 

Large amounts of heating and cooling energy can be saved by living in apartment buildings that are heated and cooled by solar, wind, and biomass. This is much easier to do in apartments than in houses. Furnaces are obsolete and must be replaced by engines. Cogeneration and advanced biological and nanomaterial manufacturing must be used to save energy. Biomass can be used in buildings by direct combustion and steam, by gasification and biodigestion. 

We need to consider solar mirrors as a means of powering buildings because they not only generate electricity but can heat water, space, distill alcohol and other chemicals, dry crops, and process sewage. Windmills and sterling motors that compress air or refrigerants should be developed as a means of powering buildings.  We need to reduce our national consumption of energy from 97 quads to 50 quads and our individual consumption from 360 million btus/yr to 100 million btus/yr. 

We can start this by focusing on renovating our educational system to do a better (more Cuban) job of producing highly literate, highly educated, culturally enriched, and selflessly civic-minded scholar-athlete-citizens. Our military led the way toward social and interpersonal change. But the military is no longer a viable driver for the changes we need, having been co-opted for profit and predatory exploitation generations ago. 

Sports and cultural production are the most integrated and meritocratic activities broadly available to the public in America. It is precisely here, in these meritocratic social activities that we find the common bond of civic identity which transcends petty and divisive sexual, racial, and gender identity squabbles - also nearly exclusively exploited for profit and political gain here-to-date.

Only when we reformat our public schools, re-centering them on active learning and meritocratic cultural enrichment in the arts and sports as primary vehicles for identity and individuation - and simultaneously - employ active learning methods and current technology tools to enrich and accelerate student acquisition of knowledge and skill in science and letters,  will we find ourselves once again on the path forward.  Failing this, we are already well along the path of an evolutionary blind alley and violent, catastrophic depopulation this way comes...,