Think of Those Children

imageOnce Crazy Horse the Oglala Sioux asked the question “how can you sell the land one walks on?” Modern Man has done much worse in the century beyond Crazy Horse. We have sold the good earth lock, stock and barrel. We are now about to pay a very heavy price for doing this.

Four recent events suggest we are gong to pay this heavy price.

A) this summer, scientist did a live research and review of the real danger of the melting mass of ice in Greenland, and it is aggressive and horrifying. (NY Times)

B) the Indonesian fire this September emitted more carbon dioxide in 3 weeks than Germany does in all year. This is one of the major environment disasters of our time, coming on top of aggressive Californian forest fires this summer.(Washigton Post)

C) Exxon-Mobil Corporation is now being investigated for putting the lid on climate science years ago. It is suspected that their own scientists warned them of the coming trauma – reminds one of the cigarette companies in the 1950’s. (NY Times)

D) Measurements now show that by next year we would have passed CO2 concentrations of 400 ppm. This is almost 50 per cent up from the Industrial Age – however the money people still deny Man has anything to do with it. (The Guardian)

Greed drives us. It seems that when we have enough, it is still not good enough. We need more. Allah only understands that motivation, It is so difficult to rationalise it. We cannot carry wealth to our graves and beyond. And really, once we are gone from this world, it should matter little what we leave behind for our children. But it does seem to matter to us, that we provide for our children beyond our graves. Keep hold of that thought for later.

Now we are bad enough as individuals. Make that a collective and we become a mob. Imagine a set of shareholders driven by the gain in share values on the stock exchange. It is vicious, unfeeling and basically follows mass trends. That trend drives the corporate world. It just devours all semblance of humanity from us humans. It is a juggernaut in motion, with an existence of its own, beyond humanity and it sets rules which are only for its own good. The employees in that corporate, are as much slaves to its needs and they will work for its existence and sustenance. The motto is “more at any cost”.

Fortunately in Pakistan we have been lucky, in that corporate culture has not reached the same levels, where feelings have disappeared. The individual still holds sway here and so somehow we have not seen the worst side of the corporate machine, yet.

Going back to my earlier statement. It seems we are hell bent as humans to provide for our children, even when we are gone from this world. There is no other explanation for us breaking our backs to possess more and more, well beyond our needs. That being the case, I do not then understand our blinkered approach to climate change. This earth is the biggest debt we owe our next generation. Its a working house, fully provided with sustainability. If humans do not tamper with it, it will serve us life long and go on to the subsequent generations. Its been proved through Earths history, that this self sustainability exists.

Yet despite breaking our backs and ethics to provide for our next generation, we continue to dismantle the very house we live in. Does not the logical question stare us in the face? What will my children do with the wealth accumulated, when there is nowhere to spend it. That last drop of water will be more precious to them, than all the gold in the world.

In Paris very shortly, a lot of important people will get together to deliberate the worlds future, at the Climate Summit. We are already in extreme danger and more is happening daily. The problem is that sincerity seems missing, when these rulers meet to discuss the fate of our children. They would do well to remember this American Indian saying.

“Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents; it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Think of those children!

*picture is from

No one is Illegal! We are all staying

imageThe present refugee crisis which is prevailing in Europe, has brought sharp focus on the problems which will face the world in the next few decades. The refugee bomb has just started to tick.  I am afraid there is nothing positive which one can say here, but it is better to be forewarned and face reality.

We are presently a 7.3 billion world population and have grown at a rate of knots in the last century. Luckily, mathematical logic, more than mans sense of responsibility, will bring relief. We will end up at 9 plus billion sometime in the next few decades and stop growing further (The various Hans Rosling lectures are an entertaining way to understand this). Natural or man made calamity may reduce this final figure, but that is difficult to project today. Nevertheless, by 2050, this will be a world bursting with people and they will need to sustain themselves over a longer life span (thanks to medical science).

At the same time, this worlds conventional resources are going to decline. This is an absolute given. Humans are consuming at well over the rate of three worlds (computer projections) and our sustainable resources are declining. Between 1960 and 2008, we consumed 400 million years of resources. So it does not take Einstein to realise that one day the cupboard will be bare. These particular resources are water, energy, agricultural land, minerals, trees and space to live.

The above scenario is without the deleterious effect of climate change. When the sea rises to restrict shores and border regions, the rain becomes scarcer, the glacier melts cause floods, the desert expands in places and inordinate heat makes places inhabitable, then the above available resources will become scarcer still. We are already facing many of these events on a minor scale.

So now what happens when resources are constrained? History tells us, that Man is selfish. When survival is questionable, he will think of himself and his ‘kind’. His ‘kind’ might mean, his particular nation, or his ethnicity, or his colour of skin, or maybe even his religious type (though generally religious base is too broad and difficult to execute across ethnicities). When Man starts thinking selfishly, he tries to garner the resources for his kind. When the resources are scarce, then it is inevitable that force will occur, from either the aggressor or the defender. This generally means war of some kind or the other, to subjugate the one resisting.

The world therefore is fast becoming a place of turmoil. War, famine, climate catastrophe and man made disasters will drive huge chunks of population from their base. Today we have 19.5 million refugees worldwide. Conservative figures suggest this could be anywhere in the range of half a billion to a billion refugees in the next few decades.

Where will these people go? Recent events shed some light on the reaction of governments. Honestly speaking, one does not even want to imagine this scenario. The leaders of this world need to wake up and start planning how this will be countered. Because if it is not countered, then the above projection will result in the biggest human tragedy in history.

The way the present has panned out, there is only one light at the end of this tunnel. Government and societies need to activate science. Innovation and technology, like solar energy and ways to delay climate change, has to be top priority for all the nations who can afford it. Perhaps, even a multinational research effort might be required to focus resources efficiently. We need to pour billions, and more billions, into finding alternative technology, otherwise the writing is on the wall.

The caption says it all. Kein mensch ist illegal! Wir bleiben alle. No one is illegal. We are all staying. This may become the most important sentences, someday in the future. We need to work to stop this. We just have to…

*the picture is from A free picture site.

Slow Movement

imageAs the story goes, in the days of yore, Iblis was extremely perturbed and frustrated. So he called in all his assistants to discuss the situation.

‘We have a long standing problem. For almost a thousand years now we have tried to make these Muslims fall from grace. Other than isolated success, which they seem to recover from, we have not progressed. Their belief is institutionalised, they have a strong will and the belief system is successfully integrated into all walks of life. They work hard, look after each other, work as communities, practise philanthropy, have a thirst for knowledge and chase progress. On top of this they have no fear, take risks and are not worried about personal success and wealth. How are we going to change this at all?’

So the devils council brainstormed long and looked at all facets of behaviour and after all this analysis came up with a single solution. Time! Take away their allocation of time and their whole system will strangulate. The conclusion was that once time was not available, they will not be able to spend hours or even minutes on nearness to Allah and so will lose their spirituality. Over time this will make them ordinary people rushing around spending their lives, caring little for others, thus the strongly knit social fabric will break, that will lead to fragmentation of purpose. Once fragmentation of purpose occurs, it will be each man for himself, which will lead to selfishness and eventually to breakdown of society. Which in turn would lead to evil, crime and fraud; so Iblis would achieve his goal.

This plan was put into motion by speeding up life and very soon, we found that time was becoming scarce. As time became scarce, the evil plan was set in motion; in the next four hundred years so it has come to pass. So it happened and so does human history record it, post the coming of the Industrial Age.

Look at our Muslim history and eventually human history. Does this story not make sense? Today we run around from pillar to post for our daily sustenance and nary a breath drawn to contemplate why we are human beings at all. It is so animalistic, materialistic and purposeless, because very soon all of us depart this world. When we do depart, we have little to show for our time here, other than a whole lot of material possessions, which do not go with us to our graves.

Speed and lack of time have become the fundamentals of our existence today. Faster technology has driven this world to speed up and we are caught in this web. There is nothing to show that speed is better, but we entrap ourselves in this commitment to speed. Because of this commitment, not only our spiritual relationship to Allah, but our relationships with family and friends have deteriorated. We contemplate little, thus the quality of our performance has itself become shallow. It shows in offices, in the arts and in our sports. In all these the pure quality of input has declined sharply.

Many in this world feel marginalised and rebel against this madness to rush and are working to solve human speed issues. Some thirty years ago the ‘Slow Movement’ commenced in Europe, against the launch of a McDonalds fast food restaurant. It has continued and encapsulates many facets, including food, education, parenting, technology, science etc. SM is a conscientious effort by dedicated people to save humanity from self destructing the very meaning of life. It is a fast growing movement which has spread to North America, Australia and Japan.

Carl Honoré’s 2004 book, In Praise of Slowness, first explored how the Slow philosophy might be applied in every field of human endeavour and coined the phrase “Slow Movement”. Honoré describes the Slow Movement as a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is better. The slow philosophy is about doing everything at the right speed. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.

Guttorm Fløistad, a Norwegian philosopher, theorised that the philosophy is to get off the speed highway, slow down, create nearness in human relations, recover reflection and togetherness and find real renewal.

There is some hope in this movement and many a thinking person is joining it. If you too find little meaning in this fast go around, then I suggest that you should connect with the like minded, find ways to slow down your life and yet be able to survive in this fast paced world. Face this speed issue.

Atlantis 2030

Atlantis 2030

So when you were a kid, did one of your grandparents tell you the myth of Atlantis and Hazrat Jibreel? Maybe not! Perhaps it was different in the sixties and seventies, when Google had not invaded our lives and liberty could be taken with history and events. Those belonging to that era would most probably have heard this.

The way the myth goes is that Allah ordered Hazrat Jibreel to go to the earth, to a place near Yunaan (Greece) and find Atlantis. He was ordered to destroy the place. Hazrat Jibreel, a bit taken aback, asked as to why? The place is an abode of achievement and advancement. So Allah says go down and check out the place and you will come to your own conclusions (now that in itself is pushing the envelope a little far, as from my understanding farishtas have no independence of thought).

Nevertheless, Hazrat Jibreel lands in Atlantis. He finds a few children playing in a park and decides to question them. He asks them if they were aware of God. On getting an affirmative, he asks them where is God. The children after some discussions say, ‘well, God is all around us’.

Next question is if they are aware of Jibreel and the answer is yes!

‘So where is Jibreel’? The children discuss and calculate and answer, Jibreel is not in the heavens. Therefore he is on earth.

‘Then who is Jibreel’? Another round of calculations by the kids and they say, “well Jibreel is around here now. And since we are not Jibreel, therefore it must be you”.

Of course Hazrat Jibreel realizes where the society had reached and that Allah’s order is correct. Therefore he sinks Atlantis into the water, leaving a legend that has endured thousands of years.

If you go to U-tube to a lecture by Dr Michio Kaku, an eminent physicist, titled ‘World in 2030’, it would give you a bit of a shudder, perhaps because it may remind you of the story of Atlantis. The Professor speaks of impending change and life as it will be by 2030 or even earlier. The talk is based on events that have already happened, events under testing, experiments which have worked and not been put into the commercial field yet and lastly Moore’s law.

Moore’s law simply states that technology will half in price and double in capacity every 18 months. Apparently this is a proven edict over 50 years or so and scientists believe it to be absolutely true. So if technology is 100 in capacity and 100 in cost today, it will be 410,000 in capacity and less than 0.025 in cost by the year 2030.

That, ladies and gentlemen, should tell us where we are going and where we will have reached in 2030. Scary?! Yes definitely. Consider that we landed on the moon, with the help of a computer which had much less power than today’s normal laptop. So with the power in 2030 how much more can we do?

Today, we have Google’s computer which can work on the surface of a contact lens, on a mere thought. We have wallpapers, which are actually computers and they can be networked, so that a large city will maintain contacts through them. No requirement for phones, computers, laptops, emails etc; you just touch the wall paper anywhere and it is alive. You are in the system! They have also now got systems which can track your brain while you are sleeping – no wiring required. The dreams can then be read and pictures created out of that onto a screen. Nevada is now testing driverless cars out on its roads. Medical tech and genomes we have already heard of many times.

These are just some of the advancements already done and about to enter our lives fairly soon. But our capacity to expand this will be exponential.

So my question is this: the technological breakthrough will happen, but will the human brain evolve just as quickly, and the human society mature just as fast? History offers little comfort.

And so, are we facing the risk of another Atlantis by 2030? Maybe not the Hazrat Jibreel kind, but one created because of the awesome power and the lack of control from a slowly evolving human brain. Will we be strong enough to manage this, and evolve to match our progress? If a fire-sale or a system meltdown or a Skynet type scenario were to come calling, how would we humans cope?

Maybe it is time to dig a hole in the ground for oneself and put away a year’s provisions for safety sake.

The sun might as well burst – mans environmental story

Bursting sunIn Surah Rahman it mentions Meezan, “balance”. Man is to live in a balance; the world was built in a balance. Mans footprint in this world should maintain neutrality.

For the age of Man, the ancients kept this balance, Whether it was self taught, gained through experience or just plain luck, it happened through thousands of years. The population was generally maintained below 500-600 million and man was sustainable.  He plowed the land, lived in localities, wasted little and was happy to be at one with his environment. Man never cut useful trees, or made large dams, stored more than his needs and ended his life more or less as he was born. Maybe 0.1% of the population, the Lords and the Ladies, lived it up. They had large castles, scores of attendants, many clothes, lots of food. They even aspired to travel to large towns to meet others like them and also were greedy enough to try to grab more. But this small proportion of population did not effect the balance of the world.

Sometime between 1750-1800, this changed. Three specific events changed us.

The Industrial Revolution came home to create mass production, storage and movement. Then the French Revolution taught the common man, he has as much right as the Kings, Lords and Ladies.  Lastly The American Revolution taught the same common man the route of how to get from the bottom of the pile to near the top. The story was complete and man went after his right to live an independent and good life with all speed and strength. He now consumed as much as he could, science provided him the wherewithal to do so – production, movement and storage. The large city was born. Population multiplied and consumption increased further. This never ending spiral of the good life, hence more consumption, more need, therefore better science, and with better living come more people (better health and longer lives) and eventually more consumption, continues till today. The population which was a steady 600 mn, will peak at 9 bn in 2045. And the earth is operating at more than one earths level and that is not a sustainable model. We have lost that balance, which was maintained by our ancient forefathers.

So did we know about it? Well back in 1872 they discovered acid rain and therefore had an idea that they were doing adverse things to the environment. But we soldiered on. Through the radiation discovery of the Curies, the two World Wars, when Oppenheimer blew the bomb and the ensuing carnage of testing, the baby boomers love of gas guzzlers, the travel boom, the digital age and now the nano technology age. We have continued to use more, more and more and despite all the hue and cry, we still every year continue to consume more.

Now what is really happening out there to show things are changing. Continuously we keep getting hotter years, but we brush that off. The unusual weather patterns, like freak tornadoes, cold waves, hurricanes, floods and untimely weather are all the signs of change, but we look the other way. The oil & gas, consumer  and airline lobbies are too powerful to allow change to happen. Sometime in the 50’s a sadhu at the foot of the Himalayas, who saw change, started photographing himself against the snow line every five years. Eleven pictures and a lifetime later (55 years), this same sadhu had traversed up the mountain side and the snowline had receded rapidly. The satellite pictures comparing Arctic and Greenland in 1970 and 2010 show a massive change, the ice is fast disappearing. Film crews have captured live huge chunks of ice pack, some 50 sq miles, breaking off in Greenland. Similarly whole lakes are seen to disappear within less than an hour, as the ice melts and a hole created at the bottom, allows the lake to flow below the ice pack, grease the bottom and make the flow of ice pack to the sea even easier.

Once the ice pack disappears in the Arctic and Greenland, our goose is cooked. This is the premier reflector of suns rays and it will cause a huge jump in the heat. The sun might as well burst and hit us. It will be faster and quicker. We are consuming our endowment for living, and unless we stop, think and reverse this process, the legacy we leave our children will be a legacy of heat and lack of resources, like food and water. We don’t really want to do this surely? We love our children too much, to allow this to happen. Do something…..

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