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Understanding How Small Changes Make A Big Difference To Our Lives & The Planet

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Pompeii was still recovering from widespread destruction from a previous earthquake back in 62 AD when on the 20th of August of 79 AD a series of earthquakes started to become more regular. Over the next four days the region was shaken by rumblings beneath the earth. The quakes became ever more frequent and intense; on the 24th of August 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted spewing out a deadly cloud of stones, ash and fumes to a height of twenty miles. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the city of Pompeii which was buried beneath metres of volcanic ash. An estimated 16,000 people died from the eruption. The people of Pompeii were unprepared and did not take the warning signs seriously. There were no attempts to evacuate Pompeii or the surrounding areas prior to the eruption.

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The story of Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii helps explain creeping normalcy. Creeping normalcy is a term used to describe how gradual changes can be accepted as the normal situation if these changes happen slowly, or incrementally. The Romans had become accustomed to minor earth tremors in the region and failed to see any imminent danger. By the time the volcano erupted it was too late to take any emergency measures. Jared Diamond made the term creeping normalcy popular in his Pulitzer prize-winning book, Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Diamond outlines how Politicians use the term ‘creeping normalcy’ to refer to such slow trends concealed within noisy fluctuations. If the economy, schools, traffic congestion, or anything else deteriorate slowly, it’s often difficult to recognize the change from previous years. (1) The gradual and incremental changes are difficult to see, thus normalcy is difficult to recognize over short periods. It may take a few decades of a long sequence of such slight year-to-year changes before people realize, that things have changed for the worst.

While industrialization has provided many benefits to society there are numerous instances of things which have been creeping up on us, many of which have had unintended or negative consequences for both society and the planet. Below are some of the more obvious examples of Normalcy bias which have shaped and conditioned society and had devastating consequences for the planet.

Globalized Food System

Cheap energy in the form of crude oil combined with the promotion of “free trade” over the last five or six decades has created long supply chains and industrial farming. These long supply chains, source food from the low-cost producers and depend upon large scale industrial monoculture farming. Industrial farming is highly dependent upon fossil fuels inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to produce food. Food is shipped, flown and transported hundreds of thousands of miles around the planet each and every day. While some may see this as progress, the reality is this model of food production and consumption is unsustainable and highly damaging to both the planet and our health. This is only possible by using highly interconnected and energy intense forms of production, transport, storage and distribution. Under the present system it is estimated we are using 10 calories of fossil fuels to produce 1 calorie of food. We have gradually moved from local production to complex global production and distribution systems and now see this as the norm.

Landscape Amnesia – Urban Sprawl

A term related to creeping normalcy is “landscape amnesia”: forgetting how different the surrounding landscape looked 50 years ago, because the change from year to year has been so gradual.(2) With increasing populations cities have spread outward. This growth has led to low-density, mono-functional and usually car-dependent communities, also known as urban sprawl. While urban sprawl has been around since antiquity, especially in ancient Rome, Babylon and China, it is more prevalent today than any other time in history. In the early 1800’s approximately 7% of the U.S population lived in urban centres. This has steadily increased to over 80% by 2010. This trend is indicative of many Western countries and according to the World Health Organization this trend is set to increase across all countries over the coming decades with more people living in cities than any time in history.

As transportation and the widespread uptake of automobiles, governmental single-use zoning laws and more access to credit and mortgages,  has increased since the 1940’s, there has been a gradual and steady erosion of valuable farmland, forests and grasslands. This sprawl has replaced farmland and wildlife habitats as ecosystems and forests are replaced with impervious surfaces (concrete and asphalt). There are many negative feedback loops from this implementation of artificial surfaces which affect habitat, wildlife, groundwater and pollution. Farmland is the most immediate victim of this urbanization, with 21% being impacted by sprawl, followed by grasslands (up to 17%) and forests (up to 12%) the next, followed by wetlands (up to 7%).

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Deregulation of Financial Systems  

The financial crisis was due to numerous separate, yet interconnected events which paved the way for the easing of regulatory requirements occurring over numerous decades. This gradual shift of incremental changes to the system created a catastrophic failure of the financial system as we know it today. The gradual deregulation of the financial markets over many years crept into the banking system. A federal inquiry into the 2008 crisis outlined the crisis was an ‘avoidable’ disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street. This enabled the widespread manipulation and exploitation of investors, individuals, taxpayers and homeowners. Like a rumbling volcano nobody took any notice of, normalcy bias can seep into any system which fails to notice ever incremental changes.

Other Examples of How Normalcy Bias Has Impacted

Other examples of Normalcy Bias which have crept into our current society is the widespread and persistent use of chemicals and pesticides, the concentration and integration of media ownership,  increased surveillance,  increased incidence of degenerative diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, industrial farming, deforestation and degradation of ecosystems, the gradual and ongoing exploitation of third world countries resources.

Article by Andrew Martin, author of  Rethink…Your world, Your future. and One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

RethinkcoverCE2Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.

(1/2) Jared Diamond,Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition, Penguin Books; Revised edition (January 4, 2011)Jared Diamond, Collapse. p.435.

 

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Elon Musk And Over 2400 AI Scientists Sign Pledge Against Killer Robots

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    More than 2,400 AI scientists and researchers have signed a pledge which intends to deter military firms and nations from building lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS).

  • Reflect On:

    Are we as individuals, working together on shared concerns for all humans on the planet, starting to see the power we have to effect positive change?

It is not an uncommon story in the history of science and technology: the most brilliant and innovative minds of their time discover, create, and invent technologies that can have hugely positive benefits for mankind as a whole. Inevitably, the largest and wealthiest ‘consumer’ of such technologies is the Military-Industrial Complex, and the main ways these technologies are produced in our world are as tools of control, warfare, and human suffering.

In earlier times scientists and inventors didn’t have much say in how their work was used, and could often be persuaded that their use in military applications was actually for the benefit of humankind. Today, those naive days are gone, and the landscape is different. Some of the most prominent minds that are creating advanced technologies are starting to speak out more and more about how their work is being used in the world.

More Than 2400 Signatories

Elon Musk of SpaceX and Demis Hassabis at Google DeepMind are among more than 2,400 signatories to the pledge which intends to deter military firms and nations from building lethal autonomous weapon systems, also known as LAWS. The signatories are scientists who specialize in artificial intelligence, (AI) and have declared that they will not participate in the development or manufacture of robots that can identify and attack people without human oversight. The pledge was created by the Future of Life Institute:

LETHAL AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS PLEDGE

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to play an increasing role in military systems. There is an urgent opportunity and necessity for citizens, policymakers, and leaders to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI.

In this light, we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine. There is a moral component to this position, that we should not allow machines to make life-taking decisions for which others – or nobody – will be culpable. There is also a powerful pragmatic argument: lethal autonomous weapons, selecting and engaging targets without human intervention, would be dangerously destabilizing for every country and individual. Thousands of AI researchers agree that by removing the risk, attributability, and difficulty of taking human lives, lethal autonomous weapons could become powerful instruments of violence and oppression, especially when linked to surveillance and data systems. Moreover, lethal autonomous weapons have characteristics quite different from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the unilateral actions of a single group could too easily spark an arms race that the international community lacks the technical tools and global governance systems to manage. Stigmatizing and preventing such an arms race should be a high priority for national and global security.

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We, the undersigned, call upon governments and government leaders to create a future with strong international norms, regulations and laws against lethal autonomous weapons. These currently being absent, we opt to hold ourselves to a high standard: we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons. We ask that technology companies and organizations, as well as leaders, policymakers, and other individuals, join us in this pledge.

The Power Of Public Shaming

The pledge hopes to amount to more than just words. In calling on countries to legislate laws, technology companies to not accept contracts, and individuals to voice their support against lethal autonomous weapons, they hope to sway public opinion overwhelmingly against LAWS, and in doing so shame any person or group who would go ahead with its development. There is some precedent for this approach working, according to Yoshua Bengio, an AI pioneer at the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms:

This approach actually worked for land mines, thanks to international treaties and public shaming, even though major countries like the US did not sign the treaty banning landmines. American companies have stopped building landmines.

The timing of this pledge is crucial. The military is one of the largest funders and adopters of AI technology. With advanced computer systems, robots can fly missions over hostile terrain, navigate on the ground, and patrol under seas. More sophisticated weapon systems are in the pipeline. Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who signed the pledge, had this to say about it:

We need to make it the international norm that autonomous weapons are not acceptable. A human must always be in the loop.

We cannot stop a determined person from building autonomous weapons, just as we cannot stop a determined person from building a chemical weapon. But if we don’t want rogue states or terrorists to have easy access to autonomous weapons, we must ensure they are not sold openly by arms companies.

Collective Consciousness Rising

This pledge is but one example of how people are implicating themselves in the future of the planet. No longer are we waiting on the sidelines and leaving decisions up to corporations, the military, or our political leaders. When we identify ourselves not as a race, culture or nation but as a planet, where all of humankind is considered part of the family, then we get to have greater access to the power of our collective consciousness. Once we harness that power, no initiative that is for the benefit of humanity is beyond our abilities.

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So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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The Flying Humanoid Phenomena Of Mexico

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    There have been multiple reports over the years of bizzare activity in the skies of Mexico. People have claimed to be seeing flying humanoids in the sky. Though not fully verified as to what onlookers have seen, it is clear what they believe.

  • Reflect On:

    Experiences & stories such as this bring us to the question most of us have heard before, 'Are we alone?' What is the true nature of our reality? More importantly, what could this mean for us as a collective, as humanity?

Throughout time in mainstream media and the entertainment industry we have been programmed to see beings outside of human as dangerous, and for the most part there is a good chunk of fear-based propaganda to remind us of the potential danger if we were to encounter a visit.

Though new films and shows have been coming forth with a different perspective & narrative and new space forces are being declared, it is interesting to question the why. Stories of otherworldly visitors have been spread for centuries, and it is time we closely examine them with an open mind.

In this specific instance, an officer driving his patrol car in Mexico has seen a dark shape that he verified was, in fact, a “flying humanoid entity” which he described looked like a floating old woman, dressed in all black with dark skin and eyes that were “just black sockets, without eyelids.”

This startling apparition then apparently flew over to hover right in front of the vehicle and the stunned occupant within. He could see it better at this time, and noted that it was a hideous old woman that “resembled a witch.” Apparently annoyed by the car’s high beams, the witch then reportedly covered her face with some sort of cloak and then flew right into the vehicle’s windshield, causing the dumbfounded officer to go speeding back in reverse. He would explain the terrifying events like this:

As soon as I realized it was a kind of woman being, or a witch, very strange standing there trying to cover her face, she threw herself against my car very fast, falling on the car and hitting the windshield. She was flying very fast and it took only a second to hit the windshield glass. I was so shocked by this action that I put the car in reverse and pushed the accelerator trying to get away while requesting backup assistance by radio.

It was a woman with big black eyes, everything was black, no eyelids. Her skin was dark brown and her expression was horrible. She was furiously trying to get me with her claws while I was running away in reverse calling desperately for backup assistance to any units around.

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If you would like to read more about why humanity is seemingly ‘obsessed’ with the ET phenomena at this time, please read more here and watch our latest video to dive deeper into the subject matter.

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There Is More Than One Type Of Intelligence

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The current model of schooling puts emphasis on one particular type of education, which only covers a small percentage of the population of children. It also educates children in batches, assuming they are all ready for the same thing.

  • Reflect On:

    Is it time to reevaluate this method of schooling to be more inclusive to children with all types of other intellect and creative ability? Is our education system even bringing out the full potential in our children?

What was your experience in school like? Did you hate it or love it? Were you an all ‘A’ student and found it to be a breeze or did you struggle with understanding some of the subjects you were being taught?

The fact of the matter is, our modern education system is not catering to students as individuals, but lumping them all into the same category and expecting them to succeed, even at things they are not particularly good at or even interested in, while those who got the highest test scores were praised and reminded of their perceived superiority and intelligence.

Because of this, many children experience anxiety around tests because they have been taught over and over again that their value is determined by a letter grade and not their creative abilities. If one child has an amazing skill to write poetry, but then fails a math exam, the latter will be the topic that is looked at and how this failure can be turned around. Often telling the child they need to pay attention more in class or study longer, even though this particular topic may not be where the child’s intelligence lies. This system is designed strictly for children to learn how to memorize and regurgitate what they have learned in the form of tests, not giving much leeway for other talents and abilities.

Our modern-day schooling system was designed to train children into becoming the perfect employee, to sit at a desk perhaps, or follow orders effectively for when they are old enough to enter the workforce. The hours, little time for play, taking instructions from a person with authority and unfortunately, leaving little room for exploring creative abilities. This system, in reality, only caters to a small percentage of people in the world, and because of this, we are effectively killing the creative potential that exists within all human beings.

The following video from Sustainable Human sums this up quite nicely.

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As it says in the video, “How did we get to the point where we decided the best way to school our children is to sit them behind a desk and insist they keep still?”

Children are meant to play, to explore, to observe, to stumble, to be curious, to ask questions, to find answers, to learn from others and as they go. Sitting them in a desk seems far from natural, yet this is something that to this day we still accept as normal and see it as, ‘just the way it is.’ However, it hasn’t actually been that long that this has been our generally accepted method of schooling.

“If a kid is failing, it is not the kids fault, the fault is within the system.”

Let us not forget that there are MANY forms of intelligence and it’s time we embraced every single one. The schooling system as we know it, needs an overhaul.

Let’s get this discussion started over in the Collective Evolution Group on Facebook.

Much Love

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