A Certain Future

‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes’. So it is claimed said Benjamin Franklin, one of the signatories to the American Constitution in 1787. But is it — was it ever— true? A certain future may not include taxes for all, but none of us will escape death. Fast forward four billion years or so and all life on earth will cease when our sun becomes a red giant and fries everything organic out of existence.

Although today’s world appears embroiled in more uncertainties than ever, there is much else we can be sure about. It seems certain that war and its associated conflicts, conducted both by barbarians and the supposedly civilised, will continue to afflict too much of humanity for decades to come. We talk of war crimes, but it’s difficult to see how we can consider ourselves a civilised species until we come to treat the act of war itself as a crime, certainly in so far as the instigators are concerned. The Geneva Conventions, highly laudable in their way, in a sense may be seen to reduce armed conflict between nations to the moral gravity of a cricket match – it’s okay, so long as you play by the rules! Yet as Franklin also said, ‘There never was a good war, or a bad peace.’

Then there’s the lack of serious political effort to address the continuing, unsustainable growth of human population, in itself a prime factor in wars fought over territory and resources. It’s certain that some resources are finite, and certain too that a continuing unchecked expansion of our numbers will cause ever greater problems, until comes an eventual adjustment by man or nature, perhaps even leading to an existential threat. It should never be forgotten that we are already the last surviving human species!

And the changing of our climate is certain, of course; sorry, Mr Trump. Some say it always has and always will, because of the dynamic nature of meteorology. I’m sure that’s true. But it’s now beyond reasonable doubt that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are at record (human) historical levels, due in large part to our vastly increased use of fossil fuels (that linked of course to our population rise from around 1 billion in 1800 to over 7 billion today). The resultant warming of the planet involves, it again seems certain, great and in some cases unpredictable consequences for all life on earth.

Another of the great certainties is that religions will continue, in all their manifestations and nuances, to affect human behaviour — for better and for worse.  Religion, a force for good, say its advocates. It often undeniably is; yet it’s equally undeniably a major factor in various conflicts. Many are certain of the existence of a supreme being, others believe the opposite. All that’s certain to me is that while no-one can possibly know, the rapid advance of scientifically based knowledge is answering more and more questions about human existence and evolution. Set against many of the superstitions and myths of past ages, that has to be a positive thing.

What’s also certain to me – to conclude on another positive note! – is that we have the capacity and resourcefulness as a species to overcome our primitive instincts and cooperate in solving the many problems that threaten us. Whether or not we will succeed in doing so depends ultimately on all of us. In the meantime, I wish you a happy and healthy new year.

What Is Our Future?

A perfect storm? Photo AFP/Getty Images

A perfect storm? Photo AFP/Getty Images

The various topics of this blog, and in Mother Earth, all lead to the biggest and most fascinating question of all for humankind: what is our future?

That can be broken down further, to ask whether the multiple dangers facing our present civilisation will lead to its collapse, and, since that eventuality throws up further, potentially existential threats, if we as a species can continue to ride our good fortune and survive at all. If that sounds fanciful or unduly pessimistic, consider the fact that we homo sapiens are already the last of a number of human species that have lived. The neanderthals and others didn’t make it this far.

In the (very) long run we’ll probably share their fate. If we remain on this planet, and don’t succeed in colonising other worlds, we are unquestionably doomed. Eventually. The earth is around 4 billion years old, and life as we know it is only made possible by the energy of the star we know as our sun; but, and here’s the rub – in another 4 billion years or so it will enter its final phases and turn into a red giant, becoming big enough to reach, and possibly engulf, our earth. Nothing will survive the heat of that encounter, and after about another billion years the dying sun will arrive at its own end in a spectacular explosion known as a supernova, scattering all the atoms making up us, and our little world, back into the vastness of space from whence they came.

I quite like the symmetry of that, since returning to the space dust from which we originated seems to round things off rather neatly, but like you my principal focus is of course more immediate. And of course  the young people of today are entitled to ask: What is our future? That question was the subject of a partly NASA-funded study in 2014, which is becoming ever more urgent if our present civilisation is to survive. It addresses the need for urgent action:

“….to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth: Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion.”

That strikes me as a good way forward, particularly since we can all play a part by doing as much as we can to reduce our own consumption of energy and resources. If you agree, and would like to read more about this interesting study, here’s the link to the article:

What is our future?

New Mother Earth Giveaway

Thanks to all of you who entered my previous Goodreads promotions. If you weren’t lucky then, or have never entered before, there’s another chance now to win a free copy of Mother Earth.  

Here are extracts from what some Amazon readers have kindly said about the book:

A good read… worth downloading…

Definitely worth a read… instantly absorbing…

A very well researched first novel… certainly worth the read – you may well be surprised!

Do try this book. I am enjoying it, and want to pick it up to see what happens next.

To reiterate what I said last time, “The novel deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time.”

If you’re interested in nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win the free signed copy of Mother Earth in my latest Mother Earth Giveaway promotion.

Entries cost nothing and run until midnight on May 6th 2016.

If you’ve never entered one of these before, it’s simple. All you do is apply to become the “winner” of the free copy, who is then selected at random by Goodreads.

You can apply now by clicking here:  Enter Giveaway

Good luck! This is for a paperback version. If you’d like to download the e-book, it’s available by clicking on this Amazon link.

 

 

 

 

 

War or Peace – why isn’t our path obvious?

If asked the simple question, do you want war or peace, most of us know which we’d plump for: the nice little white dove. Of course.

peace

But the fact remains that we, the most sophisticated species ever to have walked the earth, remain stubbornly wedded to blunt old warfare as a means to resolve issues. Not all of us, of course, and certainly not a majority, but a significant enough proportion of the global population to make for uncomfortable dreams on a bad night.

Why is this? I have plenty of thoughts, but no real idea, and it weren’t the hugely complex conundrum that it is we’d surely have solved it long ago. It’s not as if peace, decades after the end of the second world war, is not a worthwhile goal – just think what could be done with the money spent on weapons!

If you’d like to read some really informed comment on the subject, and how the threat to peace is inextricably entangled with world population growth, cultural and bio-diversity, and various environmental issues, I would recommend this website:

http://www.ecology.com/2014/09/17/ecology-peace/

 

Mother Earth Giveaway

I was delighted with the response to my Goodreads promotion in November, when five lucky readers won free signed copies of the paperback version of Mother Earth. Thanks to all of you who entered, and especially to those who also downloaded the e-book version. Here are a few extracts from what some Amazon readers have kindly said:

A good read… worth downloading…

Definitely worth a read… instantly absorbing…

A very well researched first novel… certainly worth the read – you may well be surprised!

Do try this book. I am enjoying it, and want to pick it up to see what happens next.

Contrary to what most people think, there’s very little money in novel writing these days – unless you’re a J.K.Rowling! – so the main reward for the majority of us is from such readers who are interested in and enjoy our work. Thank you all!

And since the first promotion generated such a lot of interest, I’ve decided to run it again. To reiterate what I said last time, “The novel deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time. 

If you’re interested if nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win one of five free copies of Mother Earth I’m offering as a Goodreads Giveaway promotion at the moment.” 

Entries cost nothing and run until midnight on January 31st 2016. You can apply now by clicking here:  Mother Earth Goodreads January Promotion.

If you’ve never entered one of these promotions before, it’s dead simple. All you do is apply to “win” one of the five free copies, which are then selected at random by Goodreads.

Good luck! This is to win one of five paperback versions. If you’d like to download the e-book, it’s available by clicking on this Amazon link.

Mother Earth Goodreads Giveaway

My recently published novel Mother Earth deals with a number of themes concerning the future of us, the brilliant but also flawed species known as Homo sapiens. The name means ‘wise man’, but are we going to be wise enough to deal with the challenges ahead? Some of them are likely to grow and threaten our very existence if the right decisions are not made in time.

If you’re interested if nature, and the future of humanity as one of its integral components, you may like a chance to win one of five free copies of Mother Earth I’m offering as a Goodreads Giveaway promotion at the moment. The process for those not familiar with Goodreads is that you apply to win one of the free copies, which are then selected at random.

It costs nothing to enter and runs until midnight on the 30th November. You can apply now by clicking here:

Book giveaway for Mother Earth by A.P. Jessett Nov 01-Nov …

Good luck! If you don’t win a copy it’s available on Amazon in e-book and paperbook versions.

 

Malala: books not bullets

Malala-Yousafzai-_2693776b

If we’re ever going to get rid of war, a first step is doing more to reduce the arms race. We do of course need to protect ourselves, so throwing all our weapons away is not a sensible option. But as the inspirational Malala Yousafzai has pointed out this week, a relatively small reduction in military spending would enable a massive increase in educational opportunities for the young people of the world.

She is appealing to world leaders to do more, by diverting at least a part of military spending towards education. The potential benefits are startling:

If the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

The potential spin-off benefits from such an outcome are incalculable, but you don’t have to be a feminist to realise that a greater involvement of women in world affairs might also reduce the number of wars in future, if you believe that testosterone, among many complex political, economic and socio-cultural reasons, is perhaps an important factor in conflict at some deep primeval level.

Perhaps that’s one reason that some would deny education to young girls, specifically, and even try to silence those who campaign for it. One of the many remarkable things about Malala is that even after her attempted murder, she says “Do not be afraid.”

You can read the whole article here: Books not bullets

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