Come on Irene

Many years ago, I came upon a quote by a physicist named Albert Bartlett:  “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”  I have read about it, heard stories about it, made art about it, and even dreamed about it.  I believe that understanding the exponential function is key to solving many of societies contemporary issues.  Exponential growth, of course, applies to just about everything:  economic growth, spread of AIDS, increasing computer processing speeds, population, neuronal signaling cascades, creation of a fetus from a single cell.  Or in today’s case why a category 2 hurricane may cause 10 times the damage of a category 1, how our collective behavior causes exponential disappearance of bottled water on store shelves, and the growth in the size of a hurricane is a positive feedback loop fed by warm waters that too, is exponential.

Today, the day before Irene hits NYC, I have decided to make my first blog before she takes our electricity away.  This blog is meant to be my commitment to the ongoing efforts for our collective action to actively talk about issues of exponential nature.  In particular, our exponential energy use and its exponential impact on climate.  It is also my offering to the global day of action regarding climate change scheduled for September 24, 2011 organized by is so named, because 350ppm is the acceptable level of CO2 in the atmosphere, See James Hansen et al. Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? 2008.

I could speak at length about how a city of 10 million people accumulate a collective anxiety of individual fears from a powerful weather force like Hurricane Irene.  Anxiety, too, is exponential.  I do not mean to imply that I think this hurricane is directly linked to climate change.  Instead, this blog aspires to redundantly bring to light and examine the banal and potent truth of the exponential nature and apply its power consciously.  Rather than throwing up our hands because we are overwhelmed by how seemingly insignificant our fraction of power (1/7 billion) really is, we recognize it is those same 7 billion singularities choosing to behave a certain way to create the world as it is.  All our issues are made by the collective attitude, intentional or unintentional, conscious or unconscious.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”  Aldous Huxley

Ultimately my vision for this website, is not a value-based blog that is its beginning.  It is to be a collaborative crowd-sourced think tank for collectively solving local and global issues.  To start, it is conceptually focused on energy, climate change, and conservation and efficiency.  But the Think Tank needs more hands than mine.  So, consider this my Hello handshake.  Tell me your innovative thoughts and let’s see if we can start compounding efforts. jlw27aug11

Read more »

1000 arms

I purchased this website, after visiting the Rubin museum for the first time in Spring 2011.  There I learned about Avalokiteshvara, an enlightened being in Buddhism.  Like any story, there are many different renditions, but I’m only going to share the one that inspired the purchase of this domain name.  Avalokiteshvara is supposed to be a personification of compassion that vowed to help all beings become liberated from suffering.  Specifically, this vow included that s/he break into 1000 pieces if s/he became cynical or failed in the efforts of liberating humanity.  But of course being that humanity is redundant in its pain,  one day thoroughly disheartened by failure to our well-being Avalokiteshvara broke into a 1000 pieces.  Now there are many endings to this story, and I’m taking great liberties in suggesting that this enlightened one is like an earthworm, broken in two — Avalokiteshvara was now 1000 hands to help eradicate the suffering in the world 1000 times faster.

This website, One Thousand Arms, is intended to recognize how individual action is both the cause and solution.  The cooperation of 1000 arms is exponential.  And that is how things get done.

Embodied within the global citizenry are perspectives, ideas, and solutions to global problems to redefine these status quo behaviors and inform sustainable solutions.   Energy is the most significant commodity and currency of work of our time.   It profoundly impacts our lives every minute in the most intimate of ways.  It is very difficult to know how to resolve the impending limits to economic growth, peak oil, the unstablizing impacts of climate change and the persistence of world population and consumption patterns.

It is in this way, I fall back on the exponential of our individual actions.  Every growth curve begins with one. jlw27aug11

Read more »

Hocus Pocus

In Kurt Vonnegut’s Hocus Pocus, 51 seconds is longest lasting perpetual motion machine invented by his character, Elias Tarkington.

Sustainability is the search for a kind of perpetual motion machine.  In actuality, perpetual motion is not unachievable in a human time-frame given the continued combustion of the sun.  In fact, one could say, humans are a kind of perpetual motion of embodied information as genes are passed from one generation to the next. But for Vonnegut’s character, the perpetual motion machine only lasted 51 seconds.

Sustainability is the infinite play in conceptual, linguistic, and biological rot.  It is re-gathering of entropy for entropy re-lived.  Sustainability is fundamentally based within the reflexivity implicit in change.  We act out upon the world and change the world.  This changed world acts upon us.  Our experience and our decisions evolve in this reflexive environment. The world is finite, but expression is infinite in the multiple variants of the recycled materiality of existence.

Sustainability is just another way of talking about a quality of life we might want to aspire for so that we may live within the carrying capacity of the earth’s finite resources and that we give that quality of life to future generations.  Instead of feeling daunted by the ever-growing population and associated per capita consumption on a finite earth, this project aims to liberate the ideas of the 6.9 billion individuals within the context of capitalism to generate ideas not based on trends, advertisements, or fad fetishes, but rather innovations to make the things we truly need.  That our thoughts, actions, and needs become materially integrated for a more efficient overall system. jlw29Aug11

Read more »