Monday, January 06, 2020


Once I had a book --  might still have it someplace -- that worked out the "carrying capacity" of various ecologies, Jared Diamond style:  what there was to eat, what resources could be sold, how many people could require how much heat and water, and so on.  Nothing about how to cope with criminals and madmen, so we'll have to find out more about that elsewhere.

But it seems clear enough to think this way that it might be a basis for breaking this continent-wide nation into sub-districts based on the temperaments and resources of loose areas already defined:  New England, Atlantic Coast, Deep South, Mid-west, Plains, North West Coast and California.  Don't worry about Florida -- it will be submerged before it can organize.

Some elements of governance, like food distribution and highways, need to be unified and federal.  But it becomes clear that things like energy webs and the internet might better be constructed within broad districts capable of standing alone so that if one is sabotaged, the others can stand firm and underlie repair and recovery in emergencies.  We understand now how much the climate will supply those emergencies over massive areas: wildfire, tsunami, drought, ocean rise, toxic contamination, hurricanes and cyclones, radioactivity.  Some of these emergencies can take the built environment down to the ground, including productive fields.

Though we have clearly brushed aside our commitment to the education of citizens, the kind I had in the Fifties, there are some things that are unique to particular areas and ought to be part of civics lessons.  Demographics -- like reservations, and the laws that support them -- need to be taken into account.  Particularly in the West, the whole population needs to know that "Indian Trust Money" is payment for the land they live on -- not "free".

Universities -- state or elite or minor -- have devolved into occupational training, subsidized research for international corporations, and athletic entities.  The kind of broad, humanistic, worldwide linking that supports peace has been badly neglected.  Our "canons have gone wobbly.

Major commercial shifts like the end of coal/oil not only punish people as much as natural disasters but also create political emergencies and deadlocks that require action on the part of the whole country, but also there are local shifts as automation and the internet move into different territories at different rates.  Re-education and resolving of housing inequities are vital.

"Ecoregions are areas where ecosystems (and the type, quality, and quantity of environmental resources) are generally similar. ... Level II - 25 ecoregions in the continental U.S. Level III -105 ecoregions in the continental U.S. Level IV - 967 ecoregions in the conterminous U.S."

"There are 867 terrestrial ecoregions, classified into 14 different biomes such as forests, grasslands, or deserts. Ecoregions represent the original distribution of distinct assemblages of species and communities."

"A biome is different from an ecosystem. An ecosystem is the interaction of living and nonliving things in an environment. A biome is a specific geographic area notable for the species living there. ... For example, an aquatic biome can contain ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests."   (All from Google)

These terms were developed to identify broad natural regions.  Clearly a thousand ecoregions are too many to make sense but 25 ecoregions make more sense than 50 states.  Another way to divide up territory is to look for commercial and population centers as they evolve "naturally".  A city-centered map of the US looks somewhat different from historically drawn states and within the states the counties have irrational boundaries due to politics.  The emotional content of all boundaries can overwhelm rational decisions, but at least in Montana we are learning how to deal with combining high school rivals into new entities and to cheer for them.

Taxes are one force for change; another is the formation of water districts or energy distribution or things like phone service or gas pipelines, medical centers, universities, resource extraction and refining.  Mountains and major lakes shape what the weather does and therefore what can happen.  The jet stream is "only" air but it shapes the environment.  In fact, changes in the circulation of air and sea streams will reshape much of what we think is "normal," which already changes some occupations, like fishing.  We greatly underestimate how much disease is tied to climate.  

The "safety net" for the vulnerable people needs to be rethought.  There have always been cultures where non-productive or disobedient people were simply killed.  In the US we've been neglecting and abandoning them to death until we discovered how much money can be made from caging and drugging them.  This is creating a distorted and resentful population source that is less and less responsive to the idea of the Rule of Law.  If a tipping point comes, it will take a long time and a lot of work to recover from the violence.  The violence of time -- deterioration -- is being badly managed.

We need gender role education.  Sex, reproduction health, family formation based on children are important, but more than that, partly because of our sudden world-mix of gender roles that contradict each other, we are perpetuating suffering that comes from behavior based on unreal expectations.  Occupations are rooted in gender roles, so that much elasticity and innovation starts with the work of sub-categories.  There is something like ecosystems of gender roles that is almost like regions of terrain.

The internet is still volatile and we have not understood the power of social systems, sometimes unexpected in consequences, or where it might go next.  Our society has been reconfigured in some ways and may entirely change us.  We must consider what to do when the satellites fail or become too crowded to operate or -- as become sharply relevant -- are used as elements of war.  Predator drones are dependent on this ability to see from the sky.  If we can target and destroy one vehicle with one enemy, so can they.

Most of the energy in the country now seems to be devoted to preventing change and perpetuating hegemony of those already in place.  In spite of all their efforts, we may be on the edge of something entirely unpredictable that might condemn us but also might save us.

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