Cancerous Lesion – Chicago
Humans have some difficulty in perceiving their true nature, that of temporary dissipative structures. In this I mean that they differ little from a gust of air or an ocean current delivering warm tropical waters from equatorial regions to the cooler northern regions. The apparent complexity of both organic and technological structures would seem to indicate a purpose or a grand design, but in reality all of the complexity is a manifestation of competitive reduction of energy gradients The sole purpose of all of the apparently complex structures that have arisen from the evolution of DNA and alpha-numeric technological libraries is simply an accessory in the entropic flow of energy in the universe.
One could posit that any dissipative structure or species is just as good as any other in the process of participating in the reduction of gradients. However, humans have elevated themselves to a self-important position based primarily upon their newly acquired manipulation of information and tool fabrication. This feeling of “specialness” elevates dopamine levels in the brain leading to opioid release and a feeling of greater status. Many species have been killed and mutilated or simply stepped upon like ants to prove our imagined superior position and to massage the human ego. Because humans don’t know what they are nor their purpose in the scheme of things and are generally not in control of their own behavioral tendencies, they like to believe a God is in control thereby forgiving themselves for the things they do to each other and the natural world. If a God were to exist it would likely consider life and its technological offshoot, technology, to be a wholly insignificant, unnoticeable and microscopic eddies in the great flows from hot to cold.
That biological life displays complex behavior instead of a simple direct flow as in an air or water current is a function of the expression of their DNA into structures, tools, and cellular forms that enable the finding and processing of energy/resource gradients. All of this behavior, this kinetic activity found in the ecosystem and technosystem is meant to work within and further the directional flow of the universe from higher to lower grade energy. A human does not flow in a direct path or in a mildly circuitous one like for instance the Gulf Stream, the great current that delivers heat into the vicinity of Greenland which is now in the process of melting. No, a human bounces around the landscape here and there searching for energy and rewards, seeking to release energy from wherever it can be found, either ingesting other organisms and digesting them or finding a new pool of fossil fuels for extraction, processing and combustion. Take all of the seemingly complex movements of a single human lifetime and the whole circuitous path can be reduced to the single purpose of finding and releasing energy, thereby producing waste heat with the necessity of reproduction firmly encoded in their programming. Most humans want to take the route in life that allows them to acquire the most energy possible with as little effort as possible.
In the ecosystem the complexity reaches a climax and stays there for long periods of time until something disrupts the proceedings. The complexity is not infinite but depends upon the amount of energy that can be captured to build living conduits and the amount of energy that can be passed through them. The sun is a regular and long-lasting source of energy. Likewise, technological humans are interested in building as many technological conduits and finding as many energy sources as possible, but unlike the ecosystem they will not find a long-lasting equilibrium. The techno-system will advance into complexity as much as possible in accordance with physical laws, and then it will collapse into a heap as its impermanent energy sources dwindle. The previously established technological complexity will continue to pull energy from the diminishing stock of fuels until it no longer can. A voluntary step-wise reduction of complexity is unlikely when humans are programmed by evolution to both continuously desire greater amounts of energy flow and even more complexity. Complexity in the organic and technological worlds have no purpose beyond processing energy into a less energetic form. It doesn’t really even have to make sense, but rather it just has to be desired and conduits set-up to facilitate the flow. Humans like to imagine afterlives, bury themselves in metal boxes and use grave markers, trying to convince themselves that they are something more than just a wisp of wind or wavelet in the sea. They seek archival media to preserve images or historical facts about themselves prior to their inevitable disappearance. Humans don’t want to know that they and their history are insignificant.
So what can you say about humans? They are temporary, imaginary to themselves, dopamine/opioid controlled, spinning across the globe creating paths of destruction and waste heat as they satisfy their insatiable lusts for energy acquisition and conversion. Cancerous transformations, similar to man’s foray into technology will always be possible in the future as long as the apex predator neural development is adequately supported by energy/resource gradients such as forest, soils and herbivore populations, but the full-scale metastatic explosion seen today will not recur.
What to do under circumstances such as these? I’m sure most humans will continue to invest in the tools and conduits that deliver food and other goods to their respective technological and bodily cells, unaware that at some point in the near future, the amount of energy and resources deliverable through the conduits will diminish greatly, leaving them with worthless artifacts of a by-gone age. I suppose you must search for your own nirvana and surround yourself with the things, people and places you love, bearing in mind that soon very much of it may begin a journey into chaotic disintegration. So many of our “settled” areas are marginal, allowing comfortable living only with the massive consumption of fossil fuels. Other areas that are seemingly idyllic now will soon be overcome by sea level rise or unbearable heat. Which cells (houses) will continue to offer food, water, security and waste removal in the future and in proximity of jobs that produce adequate income for survival?
Just as in the ecosystem, the techno-system will ramify into ever greater complexity, pushing energy and material into as many possible forms as can be imagined by a marketing department. When the flow of energy is interrupted or ceases, the complexity will collapse, perhaps to rise again in the case of the ecosystem, but likely never to rise again in the case of the techno-system.
Individual Cancer Cells (supplied with fossil fuels for maintenance of homeostasis and adequate living environment for human RNA living within).
Civilization, in all of its forms has no further or higher purpose than to dissipate energy aligned with the Maximum Power Principle defined by Odum. The forms of complexity are irrelevant as long as they result in a rapid and efficient reduction of an energy gradient. Humans, themselves formed by the Maximum Power Principle, display in their behaviors a desire to maximize capital growth and return on investment in their technological realm. Their new tool and information using capabilities have enabled them to effectively harvest and metabolize much of the ecosystem. The illusion that they can escape the limitations of the ecosystem will be as short-lived as their technological system. Having been led into their semi-protective technological enclosures, they will find it mostly impossible to return to more austere and demanding conditions once civilization fails. Even if a healthy population survives the collapse, the adaptations that brought technology into being will still be extant in the human population and will no doubt be employed continuously on diminishing resource/energy gradients until the net energy return equals zero. At that point the production of even primitive tools will be too expensive in terms of time and energy and only natural organic appendages will be used until starvation proves them equally inadequate. The long evolutionary journey from the resource gradient-rich environment of the past, lasting perhaps several hundred-thousand years, will have come to an end when not a single tool can be successfully manufactured and implemented that results in net energy gain to its creator and possessor.
All of the stuff of complexity exists solely to degrade energy as quickly as possible and has no function, destination or meaning beyond that task. Judging by the current crop of presidential contenders, self-awareness will not be achieved and remedial measures will not be taken prior to collapse.