The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (VI)

(a.3) If We Do Nothing | Invariable Extinction (continued from part V)

Whilst it is obvious that the “the world” is not ending in any meaningful, immediate way, despite the doomsaying of catastrophists such as Al Gore and Stephanie Wakefield, the world will, eventually, come to disintegration given sufficient time. Nothing extant is without an end. Even stars perish at the last. Our own sun, no exception to this rule. By aggregate estimate, the average age of a star is predicted to be around several billion years; the precise number of these years is difficult to determine given that celestial burn-out is predicated upon the amount of hydrogen contained within the core of any given celestial body. Our own star – the sun – is classed as a “main sequence” body which describes the fact that it is currently in it’s most stable period wherein it continuously converts it’s hydrogen core into helium. After around 8 billion years of this process the hydrogen will have been exhausted and as a consequence, the helium still in the core will cause the sun to utilize hydrogen outside of the core as a heat source, as this occurs, gravitational forces take over from the burning process thus causing the shell to expand and the surface to cool from white to red; when a star enters this stage it is referred to as a red giant due to it’s sanguine hue and significantly increased size. Given sufficient time this process will bring the red giant into contact with the earth which will swiftly be disintegrated. Before that occurs, however, the heat from the rapidly expanding sun will boil the oceans, causing all water on earth to become trapped in the atmosphere where it will be molecularly splinted by the sun’s energy, causing it to bleed out into the void of space as hydrogen and oxygen, thus leaving a barren, desiccated husk1. Amun-Ra’s wrath. Given that our galaxy is 4.5 billion years old, our sun has exhausted around about half of its total, estimated lifetime, this is to say humans have around 5 to 6.5 billion years left to inhabit the earth before the sun reaches it’s red giant phase2.

Yet even abandoning any concerns about sun-death, humanity, whether collectively or in some portion, will still need to contend with what many environmentalists and scientists have begun referring to as the sixth great extinction event. A research paper published in Science Advances in 2015 by the well known American biologist, Paul R. Ehrlich, and others, comparing past extinction rates to modern extinction rates states that animals are vanishing at a rate unprecedented since the fifth mass extinction period3 which occurred over 66 million years ago4 and brought about an end to the dinosaurs (save for that which became avians). The problem with these studies (and assertions which echo the sentiments contained within such studies) is that it is incredibly difficult to determine, with any accuracy, the rate of extinction of species that no longer exist. Ehrlich notes as much within his study when he writes, “-biologists cannot say precisely how many species there are, or exactly how many have gone extinct in any time interval-5.” He further states what should be obvious to everyone in the proceeding page, “Population extinction cannot be reliably assessed from the fossil record-6” the study also abstains from making any statement on organisms other than vertabrates; “-we have not considered animals other than vertebrates because of data deficiencies-7.” The latter point should also be rather obvious, there are simply too many different species on the planet to plug them all into a extrapolatiing extinction matrix in a 6 page paper. It would be astounding if, say, tardigrades were on the verge of extinction (they aren’t). However, we should not wax whistful about the prospect of extinction as there are decidedly certain types of organisms which we would be better of without. Whilst it is still dubious to classify viruses as a form of life, there are numerous types of viruses, such as HIV8. HIV is but one of many of the genus lentivirus which are, across the board, harmful – and often deadly – to mammalians such as humans, apes, cows and goats. More terrifyingly, viruses of the genus lentivirus can become endogenous to the host, meaning that they can incorporate their genome into the occupied organism’s genome such that the virus will henceforth be inherited by the host’s descendants. Pathogenic bacteria (those types of bacteria which cause disease and death) also occupy a similar position in relation to humans.

A common rebuttal to such a position as that which we have sketched out above is to take aim at centering either one’s personal or societies collective concern on humans-as-such and attempt to deconstruct so-called anthropocentric thinking. But what would it mean to center one’s concerns on anything other than one’s species? At a certain point one would be forced to make the decision between expanding a settlement and displacing some wildlife and simply not expanding and settling at all. If this queer notion had been taken up from the first it is highly unlikely that humanity would share the masterful command over the world that it does to this day. If we had refused to slay a charging beast upon the plains, if we had refused to eat the feral herds, if we had refused to burn the forests and there kindle them a’fire, if we had refused to dam the rivers and drain the swamps and level the land how sleek our chances would have been! How like as not we’d have passed away into the dustbin of history like the Neanderthal and homo erectus before us!

1Nearly all animal species will die once the oceans boil with the possible exception of the tardigrade. Fascinatingly resilient organisms!

2See the work of Enjar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russel, specifically as pertains to the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram.

3K-Pg extinction event which occurred between the Cretaceous and Paleogene epochs and ended 75% of all life on earth.

4Time interval calculated from Time Scales of Critical Events Around the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, Paul R. Renne et al, Science 339, 684, (2013).

5Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 3

6Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

7Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

8HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (V)

(a.2) Death of the Specter | Man, Reborn (continued from part IIII)

Unrigorous conclusions are starkly evidenced by envirocrats, who, often regardless of the evidence in a given situation, advocate that human activity has caused, and is causing, one of three particular eventualities: catastrophic resource scarcity (from say, overpopulation), mass and devastating pollution (from factories, mines and energy production facilities) and, the mainstay, disastrous climate change (which is generally ascribed to CO2 emissions). All of these eventualities merge and blend into one another and are often grouped under the blandly melodramatic heading of those set of actions which are “killing the planet.” Putting aside literal claims of a “dying planet” (which doesn’t really mean anything and, again, places “the planet” – a vague anthropomorphization – over humanity or some portion thereof), issues of desertification, disappearance of plant and animal species and pollution of bodies of water are all important issues but what one should take pains to examine is whether or not such claims are actually true and, if so, to what extent.

Resource depletion

Let us tackle the first issue: resource depletion. This issue is somewhat vexed due to problems inherent in the language that is used to describe it; one of the most problematic of these pieces of language is contained within the phrase “natural resources” which is generally taken to mean something or things which exists independent of man but that can also be plucked from that natural spot wherein it lays to further some end. Apples, for instance, would fulfill this definition. But oil or coal bare very little similarities to an apple as they are not “given” but made. “Natural resources” is a vexed phrase due to the fact that everything which exists, whether wild apples or compressed hydrocarbons, require work to acquire. In the wilderness, nothing is given, everything is acquired, which is to say, labored for. One does not simply move out over an oil field and scoop the black stuff from off the ground into a bucket1, rather, one must drill, drain, remove, contain, refine (typically via fractional distillation or chemical processing), treat, combine and transport the fuel. Every step of this process requires some form of labor, whether man-powered or machine-powered, and this takes further energy, but more crucially, ingenuity. This is to say that the hydrocarbons laying in the ground are completely useless (to humans) until someone figures out how to utilize said resource.

In 1595, the lauded English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh2 – with the help of some natives – discovered3 the Pitch Lake of Trinidad4. The Pitch Lake contained around 10 million tons of bitumen (asphalt5) which could be distilled into kerosene6, however, no one had developed a the method of fractional distillation7 which would have allowed for the extraction of kerosene from petroleum and thus, the Pitch Lake was rendered useless as a fuel source (though Raleigh was able to utilize the tar to fix his ship). In the absence of a distillation process (and a technique to utilize it) black goo in the ground was just that and very little more. Until it wasn’t. Until men made it a resource. Thus, the transmogrification of raw material to resource is limited only by ingenuity and the means to implement the innovative processes which arise because of it. Thus, there is, in theory, really is no such thing as even the potential for “natural” (wild) resource depletion (given that energy is contained within everything) but only a scarcity of human innovation.

Pollution

To tackle the second issue, that of pollution, we must begin by stating at the outset the glaringly obvious fact that conversations surrounding this issue are almost entirely one-sided; with the dominant view being that the aggregate effects of industrialized human impact are “polluting the planet.” Several things need to be said about this, the first of which is that phrases such as “polluting the planet” are quite nebulous; in the case of pollution it is more useful to examine the by-product or by-products of a particular form of energy-production and then critically examine their effects in the broadest possible ecological context given that every form of energy-production has some kind of by-product which could be described as “pollution.” Even the most “nature friendly” of fuel sources, the primordial bonfire, releases smoke up into the atmosphere and could be, if it was set up within confined spaces, be inhaled to the detriment of one’s health or the health of some allotment of other organisms.

Thus, it is not enough to talk of pollution-as-such, rather, to be clear-headed on this issue, we must looked to the particular kinds of pollution, their effects and the acceptable and unacceptable thresholds thereof. The first and most obvious negative pollution threshold would be any kind of by-product which reliably ended human life within human settlements; mass quantities of ceaseless bonfire smoke, for instance, in tightly confined and poorly filtered areas, would clearly be beyond the bounds of threshold acceptability as it would, given sufficient time cause all of the inhabitants to suffocate from cerebral hypoxia8. However, if there was a by-product caused by some energy production facility or machine that was unpleasent but considerably mild, one might judge the “pollution” to be worth it (as is the case for many with car exhaust). Thus, in summary, the correct way of viewing pollution is not whether or not there is any at all, but rather, is the amount of by-product produced by a given venture worth the venture itself.

Anthropogenic Catastrophic Climate Change

The claim of man-made global warming represents the descent of science from the pursuit of truth into politicized propaganda. The fact that it is endorsed by the top scientist in the British government shows how deep this rot has gone.”

-Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 12 January 2004.

Unlike the relatively simple issues of pollution and resource depletion, climate change is a considerably more complicated issue. At the outset it must be stated that the history of the discursive modalities surrounding this intensely politicized subject is frought with difficulties with those who believe humans are bringing about the end of the world through climate change declaring that any who deny their claims are “climate deniers.” Such a ridiculous phrase must be promptly rebuffed; obviously climate is real. One would be quite hard pressed to find a man or woman living with a fully functional brain who truly believed that the climate was an utter fiction. What is actually entailed in the phrase “climate denier” is denial of climate change, not the climate-as-such. The climate is obviously and observably changing, indeed, it changes every season, from warm to mild to cold and back once more to warmth and all that is gold and green and skittering. The crucial questions to be answered are what is the degree of climate change and is this change dangerous to mankind and, if it is determined that such changes are determined to be dangerous to mankind, what should be done about it? For example, every winter, one realizes the dangers posed to the human organism by frostbite and, to gird against it, one deploys additional heating within one’s domicile and without, one dons furs and gloves and all manners of coating to protect against the elements.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the world witnessed a surge in claims of impending catastrophic climate change in the form of global cooling; in the 90s & 2000s, global warming rose to fashion. To give a brisk listing:

  1. 1970, Kenneth E. Watt, noted ecologist of the University of California claimed that the global mean temperature would drop four degrees by 1990 and 11 degrees by 2000. He claimed this change would bring about another ice age.9

  2. Earth Day, 1970, Harvard biologist George Wald declared that civilization would come to an end in “15 to 30” years, barring “immediate action.”10

  3. 1970, May Bethel publishes How To Live In Our Polluted World. Upon the very first paragraph of the very first page she writes, “It is impossible to isolate ourselves entirely from this menace of civilization.”11

  4. 1971, Paul Ehrlich, ecologist of Stanford University prognosticated that by the year 2000 the UK would be utterly decimated and fragmented by famine as a consequence of anthropogenic “global cooling,” he further went on to say that were he a betting man he would put money on Britain not existing by the year 2000.

  5. 1971, John Paul Holdren and Paul Ehrlich wrote the 6th chapter for Global Ecology: Readings Towards a Rational Strategy for Man wherein they claimed that human activity, such as jet exhaust, pollution, drainage and so forth, would bring about a new ice age. Holdren would go on to become the “science czar” to the Obama Administration.

  6. 1975, Newsweek published an article entitled, The Cooling World, put forth the hypothesis that the earth’s aggregate temperature had been steadily dropping for decades due to human activity.12

  7. 1978, Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich & John Paul Holdren publish Ecoscience, a tome which calls for the creation of a “planetary regime” that would have dominion over nearly all resources on the earth and would also enforce population control via coercive sterilization and abortion to protect the ecology.13

  8. 2000, David Viner of Climate research Unit (CRU) claimed that in a matter of years snowfall would become so scare that it would be considered “rare” and “exciting” whenever it was beheld. He further went on to say that children would have no conception of what snow even was and that snowfall would be a “thing of the past.”14

  9. 2003, The Pentagon released a paper entitled, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States Security. The 22 page document, penned by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, laid out a hypothesis, based upon then-current research, that it was likely that climate warming would cause slowing of the thermohaline conveyor of the world’s oceans which would in turn cause increasingly frigid winters, soil desiccation and wild storms. In the view of the authors this climatic upheaval would be gradual and would leave North Europe, America and Russia relatively untouched for sometime, whereas Southern Europe, Africa and Central and South America would suffer from production shortages in short order.15

  10. 2004, the speculative science fiction film The Day After Tomorrow is released. Directed by Roland Emmerich (best known for Independence Day), the motion picture is based off of the book The Coming Global Superstorm, by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, which warned of catastrophic climate change bringing about a storm that would amass around the Norther Hemisphere which would then freeze over. Many of the scenarios within the book are portrayed in Emmerich’s film.

  11. 2005, UNEP16 notified the world that in five years the world would face catastrophe due to anthropogenic warming which would bring about mass desertification and death. The claimed that the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean and various other coastal regions were at the greatest risk of this looming threat and would produce 50 million “climate refugees.” 2010 came and went with no records of any “climate refugees” fleeing either the Pacific Islands or Caribbean; rather, their native populations markedly increased.17

  12. 2013, The Friends of Science release a study concerning a predictive climate model created by the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis which was used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change18 to craft a narrative of climate eschatology; disaster, they proclaimed, was imminent. The Friends of Science study, however, found that the latter’s model predictions were incorrect by 590%. Ken Gregory, the director of Friends of Science noted, “Taxpayers in Canada should be appalled at how their money has ended up funding faulty science that has driven climate change terror around the world.”19

Every single one of the aforementioned proclamations and projections turned out to be false, often glaringly so (as with example xii). What this tells us is that though climate science is extremely important, the reliability of period climate modeling was (and remains during the time of this writing) highly unreliable. Thus, when such proclamations are made, it behooves one to ask first, cui bono? Who benefits? Secondly, one should ask the questions: What is the model and what is the data and how was the data obtained? Additionally, who is conducting the research, what are their motivations? What is their track-record?

To conclude: The prospect of ‘environmental catastrophe’ (almost invariably overstated, when not outright false) should be viewed as an exciting new challenge to be overcome rather than some gloomy and incontestable eventuality. The mentality of the doomsayer is that of a masterless slave, for that which is thought impossible is made impossible in the thinking.

1Settled ground oil – or, bubbling crude – is a naturally occurring phenomenon but it is so rare as to be unreliable and even were it reliable one would still have to process the oil before utilizing it.

2Sir Walter Raleigh was a English spy, man-of-letters & explorer who popularized tobacco in his homeland.

3The natives knew well of the lake. “Discovered” here means, “The English discovered.”

4See, Paul R. Sellin, Treasure, Treason and the Tower: El Dorado & The Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh. 2011.

5A black, semi-solid form of petroleum. Also referred to less commonly as asphaltum. Popular in waterproof roofing.

6Kerosene is a combustible liquid-hydrocarbon which can be created from petroleum widely used as jet fuel.

7Fractional distillation is a old technique for the separation of useful hydrocarbons from crude oil which involves heating the crude substance to boiling point & then collecting the differential vapors (which are referred to as ‘fractions’).

8Condition characterized by the complete oxygen deprivation of the brain.

9Ronald Bailey Earth Day, Now & Then, May 1, 2000. Also see, Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt the Global-Warming Industry, New American, 2014.

10Ronald Bailey, Earth Day, Now & Then, May 1, 2000.

11May Bethel, How To Live In Our Polluted World, Introduction, p. 6

12Peter Gwynne, The Cooling World, Newsweek, April 28, 1975.

13See, Holdren et al. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. 1978

14Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt The Global-Warming Industry, The New American, 2014.

15Peter Schwartz, Dough Randall, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States national Security.

16UNEP stands for the United Nations Environment Programme.

17Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt Global-Warming Industry, The New American, 2014.

18Also known more simply as ‘IPCC.’

19Canadian Climate Change Predictions Fail by 590% Costing Global Consumers a Bundle Says Friends of Science Study, October 31, 2013.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (II)

(a.1) The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (continued)

Assignation of The Feminine1 to The Earth2 and The Masculine3 to that-which-is-machinic is not to ascribe some intrinsic negative value to The Feminine, nor to ascribe some intrinsic positive value to The Masculine, for the Masculine has also become subsumed into the specter as well. Consider the work of the Marx and Kierkegaard inspired Christian anarchist4 and sociologist, Jacques Ellul, who, in his The Technological Society (henceforth referred to as TTS) lays out a broad and emotionally charged description of modern industrial society and elaborates on (and often decries) what he believes to be the principal flaw in the system: Technique. Ellul’s technique is distinct from both its folk-psychological and scientific usages as it is, in brief: a collection of mental processes which arose from the utilization of machines which is implicit in every aspect of society that works through men only to further efficiency of ordering. Ellul describes technique in his own words as:the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity.”5

In the aforementioned work Ellul states, “It will not do for him [the reader] to challenge factual analysis on the basis of his own ethical or metaphysical presuppositions6. The reader deserves and has my assurance that I have not set out to prove anything. I do not seek to show, say, that man is determined, or that technique is bad, or anything else of the kind.” This is rather contrary to declarations he makes later on in the TTS which clearly show that he believes technique to be the very root of all the ills of modern (or postmodern), civilized society.

Furthermore, there is the issue of Ellul’s peculiar and non-individuating sociological methodology which must be taken into account before further examinations can be made. He writes, “I do not deny the existence of individual action or of some inner sphere of freedom. I merely hold that these are not discernible at the most general level of analysis, and that the individual’s acts or ideas do not here and now exert any influence on social, political, or economic mechanisms. By making this statement, I explicitly take a partisan position in a dispute between schools of sociology. To me the sociological does not consist of the addition and combination of individual actions. I believe that there is a collective sociological reality, which is independent of the individual.”7 This laying-out of methodology is instrumental in understanding all that follows (as well as in understanding Ellul’s followers who we shall touch upon in later texts) given that he never states as to why he believes this in any truly cogent way; it would have been immensely helpful to his case if he had made, at least, some small effort to sketch out and concretize his methodology in his book. Speaking of this methodology, Ellul’s “partisan position” relies on attuning his representations to but a single strata of analysis; that of the crowd. Yet, a crowd is nothing without it’s constituent parts; without the individuals which make it up. To say that a group can be a group without individuals is the same as saying that capitalism can exist without capitalists or that an army can fight without warriors. One need not eliminate the individual altogether in pursuit of a clear and concise method for broad-range analysis of social phenomena, yet Ellul does just that; indeed, he goes even further than the mere elimination of the individual and eliminates individuation altogether in strange outpouring of poetically vague dialectical materialism (which he likely took from Karl Marx who he noted as one of his principal inspirations). This is clearly demonstrated in the line “I believe that there is a collective sociological reality which is independent of the individual.” What does this even mean? Ellul himself does not really say. It is one thing to say that there is a sociological reality which is co-dependent upon the individual, but it is rather another to say that the individual contributes nothing to the crowd. Ellul effectively postulates that there is some reality which simply emerges from the ether, unmoored from any given individual, solely existing upon, but separate from, any given group; this essentially positing technique as a self-replicating emergent process borne, not of consciousness, but of the machine. If you should be skeptical of the veracity of our assessment so far, if one is of the mind that Ellul could not possibly have believed that a human conception was created by machines, consider the following, “-let the machine have its head, and it topples everything that cannot support its enormous weight. Thus everything had to be reconsidered in terms of the machine. And that is precisely the role technique plays. In all fields it made an inventory of what it could use, of everything that could be brought into line with the machine. The machine could not integrate itself into nineteenth century society; technique integrated it. Old houses that were not suited to the workers were torn down; and the new world technique required was built in their place. Technique has enough of the mechanical in its nature to enable it to cope with the machine, but it surpasses and transcends the machine because it remains in close touch with the human order. The metal monster could not go on forever torturing mankind. It found in technique a rule as hard and inflexible as itself. Technique integrates the machine into society, It constructs the kind of world the machine needs and introduces order where the incoherent banging of machinery heaped up ruins. It clarifies, arranges, and rationalizes; it does in the domain of the abstract what the machine did in the domain of labor. It is efficient and brings efficiency to everything. Moreover, technique is sparing in the use of the machine, which has traditionally been exploited to conceal defects of organization. “Machines sanctioned social inefficiency,” says Mumford8. Technique, on the other hand, leads to a more rational and less indiscriminate use of machines. It places machines exactly where they ought to be and requires of them just what they ought to do.”

Here we come to the crux of the issue; when Ellul writes that “it [technique] places machines exactly where they ought to be and requires of them just what they ought to do” he is saying that technique itself is controlling machines! Technique has requirements of machines? To place this argument, this bizarre claim, into a concrete and real-world context, it would be analogous to saying that chiaroscuro controlled a paintbrush which, in turn, controlled a painter. Now a painter might well adopt different techniques based upon different kinds of brushes but it means absolutely nothing at all to say that such techniques are controlling those instruments which are, in turn, controlling the aforementioned painter. The most you could say is that the painter is constrained by the techniques available for the design, manufacturing and dissemination of his instruments as well as by the number and variations of brushes available to him. To conflate acting and constraint, will and pure conditions of possibility is to render all as agents, which is to eliminate the world of man when man himself, as such, is the object which Ellul wishes to safeguard (even if it is from his own devices).

This methodological quandary, this profound anthropomorphization, then, cannot help but lead our erstwhile hand-wringer astray as he is looking at machines as agents who created yet another agent – technique – which then proceeded to overtake it’s creator and rule over mankind like some kind of conjured demon. Somewhat later Ellul writes, “It is said (and everyone agrees) that the machine has created an inhuman atmosphere.”9 No context is provided for this, it is merely asserted that everyone already agrees with him, well, let us politely disagree, for the machine is, in brief summary, the tool for the transformation of the world in the image of man himself. Later still he let’s further cats out of the bag and exposes the whole of his game, “Think of our dehumanized factories, our unsatisfied senses, our working women, our estrangement from nature. Life in such an environment has no meaning.”10 Like as not you saw this coming. It was only a matter of time before “nature” reared it’s ugly head! How woesomely predictable! How dreadfully tiresome to ever wear these shackles of naturality! Whilst Ellul, in his rambling and effete introduction to TTS, goes to great lengths to assure the reader that it is not his intention to prove or even make a point, insisting that the text is merely a sociological survey which is meant to awaken the sleeping, yet what then is with all this talk of dehumanization and estrangement from nature? He goes so far as to refer to industrialized society as a “metal monster” – such an emotion-laden pronouncements and references can hardly be described as merely descriptive, quite the contrary. In the text we also witness a integral feature of the specter – the enclosure of the future. Given that the specter is conceived of as that which is eternally commensurate with the design of the earth, the field of possibility is intensely and rationally whittled away with ever increasing regularity. In defense of The Earth or Nature or The Natural, its defenders must always hew away at man’s potential, his will must be tempered, his creativity must be tamped down, his innovations, discarded, and so on and so on until every future project which is not ratified as aligned with the “needs” of Gaia are declared verboten. Yet, the natural is not given, it has no intrinsic qualia (least not that can in anywise be discerned – and that is a crucial thing), no externality beyond the mental landscape where it has grown and grown and now looms titanic, overshadowing and threatening to entomb all futurity by hemming man into one and only one modality of being: concordance with “the planet.”

If the cult of The Mother Goddess (qua Sjoo & Mor11) defines the promise of the specter (earthly paradise); Ellul’s anthropomorphic technique acts as a ancillary theology that defines the reasons why one should move away from the-world-of-man (human creation and construction) and instead retreat into the mists of prehistory, for, in those swirling depths, the “metal monster” holds no sway. Ellul errs in that in any endeavor, where a technique is found wanting, inferior to some challenge, the solution is not the decimation of technique-as-such, but rather, superior techniques.

In closing, it is important to preempt a likely line of criticism, that of conflating the specter with Ellul’s technique. Technique, is fundementally anthropomorphic (and well covered above) whereas the specter of earth is no such thing, rather, is the recognition, the bracketing, of all misattributed anthropomorphisms which are transposed from the mind of man unto the face of all the earth. Here we have seized the thread, here we understand the opposition and here we declare that nature as enclosure of the future must be changed or, failing that, destroyed. For the conceptual invariably informs the performative.

1We are here utilizing The Feminine to constitute the total set of all behaviors & appearances which are associated with the female sex.

2Here we deploy ‘the earth’ as idealization rather than earth-as-is (earth as space-rock).

3We are here utilizing The Masculine to constitute the total set of all behaviors & appearances which are associated with the male sex.

4A Christian anarchist is one who believes that societal order must be rejected given that God is the one and only authority. Ellul stated that he believed anarchism to be “an absolute rejection of violence” and the “most serious form of socialism.” Due this inclination, Ellul believed state power to be ‘the beast’ which was described in the Book of Revelations.

5The Technological Society, xxv.

6Echoing the concept of ‘false consciousness.’

7The Technological Society, xxix.

8Here Ellul references the American historian and sociologist, Lewis Mumford.

9The Technological Society, p. 4

10Ibid., p. 5

11Authors of the anthropological and religious text, Great Cosmic Mother.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth

(a) Immanence or Earth?

What way went vigor?

Subsumed by vice.

Struggle lost to paradise.

Elimination of a concept is only a reduction of literal spatiality insofar as no parvenu concepts are there fabricated in its place. Fabrication should not come to be confused here with falsity, such as an illusion (true presentation, false content) but rather should be associated with methodological or normative effect (a presentation which may not be “true” but which contains true content – ie. a bracketing concept).

(a.1) The Image of Man | Specter of Earth

In his Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man1, Wilfrid Sellars posits two competing conceptions of the human subject, that of the “manifest image” and the “scientific image.” The manifest image, as defined by Sellars, constitutes the folk-psychological schema by which man describes himself, to himself, and relates to his fellows (I am, she is, she talks to him because she likes him, etc), what Sellars referred to in his more casual moments as “knowing one’s way around” the map of the world. To quote Sellars: “The ‘manifest’ image of man-in-the-world can be characterized in two ways, which are supplementary rather than alternative. It is, first, the framework in terms of which man came to be aware of himself as man-in-the-world. It is the framework in terms of which, to use an existentialist turn of phrase, man first encountered himself—which is, of course, when he came to be man. For it is no merely incidental feature of man that he has a conception of himself as man-in-the-world, just as it is obvious, on reflection, that ‘if man had a radically different conception of himself he would be a radically different kind of man.’”2

In contrast, the scientific image is that set of things which also constitutes man but which cannot be detected by the manifest image (or rather, which cannot be discerned by simply “feeling one’s way around”). He describes the scientific image thusly,

The scientific image of man-in-the-world is, of course, as much an idealization as the manifest image—even more so, as it is still in the process of coming to be. It will be remembered that the contrast I have in mind is not that between an unscientific conception of man-in-the-world and a scientific one, but between that conception which limits itself to what correlational techniques can tell us about perceptible and introspectible events and that which postulates imperceptible objects and events for the purpose of explaining correlations among perceptibles.”3

Sellar’s takes special care to note that by utilizing the word “image” he is not thereby positing that either the manifest, scientific, or both – as conception of being-in-the-world – are in anywise not of ‘the real.’ Rather, he ‘brackets’4 the “images,” thus transmogrifying them into philosophical objects of navigation. The tension between these images is starkly exemplified by such permutations in the humanities as posthumanism and its attendant sub-categories – transhumanism, non-humanism, anti-humanism and so on – as well as in the popularization of the displacement of the holocene by the anthropocene, patterned after the noosphere5 of the Russian geochemist, Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky; further refined by de Chardin and Le Roy. The anthropocene was utilized as early as the 1960s but was popularized in the early 2000s by Dutch chemist, Paul J. Crutzen. The anthropocene, broadly described, is the geo-era birthed out of post-industrial human civilization; generally, a human-dominated geological epoch; a time where man has obtained unprecendent power which has, through his ignorance, caused irreparably damaging climate change and ecological devastation. In other words, the anthropocene places man as geological force. This is a transmogrification of the manifest image; a taking of man from his place as the center of concern and placing him within a system with it’s own concerns (the planet, earth, Gaia, etc). Such a transformation is the summation of a existential quandary. The end of the world, or, more minimally, the end of the world of man. If you should find this talk of “the end of the world” to be an incredibly over-the-top pronouncement know that it is not our pronouncement but rather, a sentiment which is increasingly accepted by academia at large. Consider this excerpt from a 2014 speech given by the urban geographer, Stephanie Wakefield, “The end of the world then is not this or that disaster coming in the future – a flood, a hurricane, the collapse of mid-western agriculture – the end of the world is not a potential extinction of homosapiens. The end of the world is what we are living through right now.”6 Now, clearly, this is manifestly false if “end of the world” is to be taken as a literal and immediate eventuality (as her usage of “now” could connote). The world, either as nature-as-such, or, the-earth-as-such, in totality, is not literally at an end; it was not “ending” back in 2014 when such statements were made nor is it “ending” now (anymore than it has always been ending). Rather, it is Sellar’s manifest image that is slipping away – this a failure of synthesis – behind computer screens and into the ever-burgeoning smart-phone matrix, slipping through the cracks in the facade of a world torn open in the new reality birthed by empiricism and modern science, slithering through the fissures of the harmonic concordance which has been shattered by the might of human industry and will.

Man is no longer merely a clever beast, he has become something else entirely. We are all cyborgs, after all. All the more reason for synthesis! The crucial question to answer then is whether he has become more or less his constituent parts. Obviously more. We now add on the collective armature of the whole of our species to increasingly powerful frames through mass communication and speculative theoretical exploration; no longer captive to the landlocked and resource scarce existence of our ancestors, oft trapped upon infertile planes or swampy marshes, nor are we so easily dispatched by meteorites, those great foes from the sky, nor the devastation of hurricanes, mudslides, deluges of the rain-cloud, nor the ague or the fangs of chittering beasts. Hence, the only truly meaningful question left in regard to man in relation to the earth is: “Should he continue the process of reifying his immanence, thus synthesizing the manifest and scientific images or doing away with one or the other or should he cease and desist altogether?”

Before we can even begin to answer such a series of questions it is of great importance to critically examine the conceptions of the earth which have been constructed by the manifest image, what we shall here collectively refer to as the specter of earth. What then is this specter which shrouds our clarity? The answer is: not earth as-is but rather, the idea of earth which has been collectively crafted from centuries of our relationship with it, imbued with agency by our own, misattributed and implicitly carried. Whether the concept takes the form of earth-as-hyperorganism or earth-as-deity; what is fundamental to the foundation of the concept of the specter is the idea that the planet is something which acts. Additionally, the specter is a being which also has specific interests which its proponents contend broader humanity (or in rarer instances, all human action) is actively working against, for in the philosophy of the spectral shamans, Man is nothing more than a virus, crawling out upon the whole of the world, siphoning it’s lifeforce with vile machinic efficiency for some unstated, hideous and invariably cataclysmic end. The decline of anthropocentric thinking via the rise of new and destabilizing schools of thought have acted as catalysts to this thought-process which has, in turn, allowed the mental ecological niches necessary for anti-human envirocracy7 to grow. But is this mindset justified? Is it true? We would affirm that even if such statements were true, that should not mean that man should cease philosophical and technological innovation and simply set himself down into the muck and the mud, scratching about with sticks to carve out a hovel in the hardening clay of some noisome landslide. All of nature wars with us and it is only right and just that man should the wage battle with equal fury. Now as ever. But before we lay out our positive position (what is correct and should be done) we must first finish our negatory enterprise (what is wrong and what should not be done).

What is wrong, principally, with the various notions which we here collectively describe as the specter of earth is that it is just that, a specter; a construct of the mind with no verifiable external reality. This is not to say that mental constructions are not themselves true or that they are not immensely important; they are. Rather, it is to say that there is a profound distinction to be drawn between the conception itself and the way that conception maps onto any given externalities (if any at all). As pertains to usefulness it is crucial to understand that every mental construction is only as useful or useless as its applications within the mind to the individual who contemplates it and the ability of the individual who conceives of it to then utilize that concept to effect “the world” in some way that is conducive to some end. In the case of humanity, that end is, typically, a anthropocentric one. The problem with the concept of the specter is that, though it is obviously false (or, in more rare and sophisticated iterations, unfalsifiable), it is not useless; in fact, it is highly useful for a variety of human pursuits. To illustrate this fact and better conceptualize the actual effects of the specter, consider the cult of femininity which sprung up around the archaeological discoveries of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. In 1958 the archaeologist James Mellaart unearthed the remains of a proto-city in southern Anatolia, Konya Province, Turkey. It came to be known as Çatalhöyük8. Among the ruins of the neolithic settlement were various female figurines which Mellaart believed to be evidence of a cult of some Mother Goddess that was “the basis of our civilization.”9 Other similar claims had been, for instance, the American occult writer, Rosemary Ellen Guiley wrote that goddess worship extends as far back in time as the neolithic and might possibly be even older10 and the mythologist Joseph Cambell once cited a discovery that was dated to 6500 BC11 which he believed to be indicative of mother goddess worship. The validity of Mellaart’s theory, however, was somewhat complicated by the fact that not only was the archaeologist possessed of black market connections, he was also a proven forger. Regardless of these facts, Mellaart’s theories garnered a following and in short order a new, tentative religion had sprung up around his findings (both real and counterfeit). A similar fixation surrounds the ancient Bronze Age city-site of Knossos in Crete wherein many figurines and frescos were discovered which hinted at nature worship conducted under the auspices of powerful priestesses. Despite widespread denouncement of the idea that either Knossos or Çatalhöyük were, in their time, hotbeds of mother goddess worship, the idea persisted; indeed, both locations are still quite popular tourist designations for dedication worshipers of “the mother goddess” which has formed into various different internet communities. The “the” here is significant as members of the Knossos and Çatalhöyük mother goddess community believe in a monotheistic conception of the divine; a great and all powerful woman-creator who stands separate from man. It is pertinent to note that many modern devotees of the Mother Goddess believe that during neolithic times (or other proximal ages) womankind lived in tranquility until they were invaded by men who brought chaos into the world through the creation of technology. In it’s modern iterations, mother goddess worship tends to arise in, or affix itself to, circles wherein radical feminism, Jungian Psychoanalysis, New Age pantheism and extreme forms of evironmentalism are present. Whilst Mellaart’s discovery was a important locus in the reknewal of the specter goddess, it was but a portion of the multifarious iterations of modern earth and goddess worship, which re-surged in the 1960s in tandem with reinvigorated feminist movements, the popularization of ecology and neo-paganism and various non-asatru associated witchcraft and occult movements.

Another important node in the reification of the specter of earth was the work of the independent British scientist, James Ephraim Lovelock. During a joint venture with NASA to discover life on Mars, Lovelock conceived of what he called the Gaia12 Hypothesis, which postulated that a planet which contained life could be thought of as one, cohesive and self-regulating organism. First put forth in the 1960s, Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis was elaborated upon in his 1974 paper, Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere13 and various, subsequent scientific and polemical papers and books. The Gaia Hypothesis, originally conceived of as a new way of modeling the planetary ecosystems, Lovelock took the concept well outside the bounds of the hard sciences when, in his paper, Science and Christian Belief, Vol. 4, No. 1, 29, he wrote, “Gaia is Mother Earth. Gaia is immortal. She is the source of life. She is certainly the mother of us all, including Jesus.” Therefore it is starkly evident that Lovelock, whatever his initial conceptions, had come to believe the earth to be a literal feminine deity, possessed of vast intelligence, power and agency; sensitive to the workings of man and all the other organisms which take up residence beside, below and above him. Thus, in Lovelock’s schema, man is subsumed in the telos of “the world” and must readjust his workings in alignment with it or face The Revenge of Gaia14. Two decades after Lovelock’s hypothesis took hold, numerous other earth-centric thinkers and movements began to percolate throughout the increasingly global zeitgeist. We must pause he to take the measure of the thing, the strange convergence of scientific modeling and neolithic mythology, which, we would postulate, might have emerged out of the isolating and uncommunal nature of scientific research; for instance, both Mellaart and Lovelock were academics, given over to isolation in pursuit of furthering their personal knowledge of their particular field of study. It would not be unreasonable to suppose that such habituations occasioned considerable loneliness given the obvious social dimension of the human animal.

New “green” forces, less mystical and considerably more political, began to arise seldom a decade after Lovelock’s magnum opus. In the 1970s, the international NGO, Greenpeace, rose to prominence amidst the hippie furor of the 1960s, having no single founder or founders, the group organically coaleseced around environmental concerns, gradually becoming both more influential and more radical in their beliefs and tactics. 1987 saw the publication of the book, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, wherein Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor declared of the masculine,

Perhaps the greatest harm patriarchy has done to us is to stifle, coopt, and deform our powers of imagination. Moralism, dualistic dogmas, repressive prohibitions block our imagination. Patriarchal religions keep this fusion from happening, imagination dies, and is replaced by mechanical-linear thought patterns, i.e. indoctrination.”15

and in another section,

The world’s definition of God is the self-definition of humanity. The Gods who rule us “from above” are simply mirrors in the sky, faithfully reflecting our own faces. The Gods who rule us ‘from within’ might represent deep truths of the mind and heart, or they might reflect the profound self-distortions of four millennia of ontological misperception. We do not know if a ‘God’ is a true God or a false God until we see what kind of world is created in that God’s image. When we look around today at the world generated by the male Gods of patriarchal rule, we see warfare, degradation, suffering, and sadism on a scale such as earth has never seen, nor will ever see again—for of course if we don’t end it, it will surely end us.”

and later,

This is all very rudimentary, but once it has been set into motion as world machinery, every living thing on earth is entangled in its gears, all our functions become definitively embodied in its functions—and it’s very hard for those living inside the machinery to stop the machine, because our lives and all their ontological terms have come to depend on the ongoing machinery in all its terms.”16

Thus, we can see, from the mists of prehistory to the present, a consistent familiarity of association; earth to mother, woman as creator and thus God(dess), feminine magicks stultified and routed by vile patriarchal will and the persistent disdain for the horrid masculinity of the machine. If we define spirit as that portion of the human mind which motivates, and if we define the machine as the concretization of masculine will, we can accurately define opposition to the machine as indicative of a feminine spirit.

1‘Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man’ was a lecture given by Sellars in 1960. It was later transcribed and published in the journal, Frontiers of Science and Philosophy.

2Sellars, ‘Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man,’ p. 3

3Sellars, ‘Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man’, p. 10

4‘Bracketing’ was a phenomenological term deployed by the philosopher Edmund Husserl, meaning: to suspend direct engagement with the world in partiality to better focus on some form of analysis of experience therefrom gained.

5The noosphere was conceived of as a biosphere of human thought. Nous = mind, sphaira = sphere.

6Notes on the Anthropocene: “What Must I Do?” At the End of the World, 2014.

7Those who place lack of human impact upon the environment at the forefront of all political & philosophical thinking.

8The name Catalhoyuk is a combination of the Turkish catal (fork) and hoyuk (mound).

9Evaluation Claims of a Mother Goddess Cult on Prehistoric Malta, Margaret Creech, 2015.

10Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experiences, (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 239.

11The Masks of God, vii.

12Gaia, or, Gaea, is a important primordial Greek deity who is the living embodiment of the earth.

13Lovelock wrote the paper in co-authorship with the microbiologist Lynn Margulis. The paper was first published in Tellus XXVI, 1974.

14The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back, is a book published in 2006 that was written by Lovelock.

15Sjoo, Mor, The Great Cosmic Mother, p. 427

16Sjoo, Mor, Great Cosmic Mother, p. 217 [PDF ver.]

On The Prospects of Inverse Arcology

The object is eternal, only the subject dies.

Introduction

Who is this brain-dead worm, this mad cadaver, this “modern” American architect? Not nearly modern enough, his works swim amidst a phantasmal tide and lags behind decades, or, if he or she wishes to showcase their cultural acumen, centuries! How little has changed since the times of Sant’Elia and how right he was! All around America one spies these ugly conglomerations of brick and fake wood, roman columns affixed to cement facades, as if in afterthought. Ugly, insipid and wasteful; it is the latter which leads so oft to the former eventualities. Those materials which have been hitherto plied to fashion those many layers of superfluous paneling, column-fitting and ostentatious, gaudy nonsense on our buildings could have been aggregated to create whole new living spaces and the pathways to them! Fear not, we shall dispatch of these cretins in goodly time.

However, it is never enough to merely criticize; a solely negatory enterprise invariably consumes itself at the last. Instead we will pair our rebarbative salvos with a proposal, not just for a new style or aesthetic of American architecture, but an all-encompassing vector for societal construction. Be not uncertain, this task is of no small import, but rather, one of the greatest possible magnitude. The total world population is projected to increase markedly by 2050, whilst the concentrations of individuals living in urban areas are projected to continue intensifying. As of 2010, over 50 percent of the world population lived in urban areas. According to United Nations, China’s population is projected to reach 900 million by 2030, India, approximately 700 million and the USA, just under 300 million1. One then spies numerous problems arises, ranging from resource scarcity from over-consumption to hyper-compression and traffic congestion. To effectively meet this challenge new societal models will be required. One of the most interesting of these new ideas was laid out by the Italian architect, Paolo Soleri, in his 1969 book, Arcology: The City in the Image of Man. Soleri lays out the foundations of Arcology2 as both a new type of societal structure and a new way of thinking about man’s relationship to the world. He wrote:

“Such a structure [an Arcology] would take the place of the natural landscape inasmuch as it would constitute the new topography to be dealt with. This man-made topography would differ from the natural topography in the following ways: It would not be a one-surface configuration but a multilevel one. It would be conceived in such a way as to be the carrier of all the elements that make the physical life of the city possible—places and inlets for people, freight, water, power, climate, telephone; places and outlets for people, freight, waste, mail, products, and so forth. It would be a large-dimensioned sheltering device, fractioning three-dimensional space in large and small subspaces, making its own weather and its own cityscape. It would be the major vessel for massive flow of people and things within and toward the outside of the city. It would be the organizing pattern and anchorage for private and public institutions of the city. It would be the focal structure for the complex and ever-changing life of the city. It would be the unmistakable expression of man the maker and the creator. It would be diverse and singular in all of its realizations. Arcology would be surrounded by an uncluttered, open landscape (Soleri, 1969, p. 13).”

To construct his soaring vision, Soleri borrows from the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega-Point hypothesis3. Due this influence, Soleri conceives of arcologies as places, not just of new-found frugality, protection and efficacy, but also of spiritual improvement. Soleri further sketches out the details of his new habitational paradigm by way of CDM (Complexity, Miniaturization, Duration), three guidelines which all arcologies must obey to be commensurate with the rhythms of human life. Soleri takes the issue of energy consumption seriously and posits that arcologies, to be properly constituted, must be energy-cities, that is system-structures which, in their entirety, work to produce, capture, store and utilize energy. Additionally, Soleri tackles the issue of density, the synthesis of CDM, that is, miniaturization within a complex system over a period of time; as Jeff Stein noted, “No Eco-thinking can ignore density. Crowding, the maker of life.”4

Some concrete examples of arcologies which Soleri sketched (though these were, obviously, never built) included, Novanoah II (1969), a massive construct which could comfortably occupy 2,400,000 inhabitants upon the open oceans, and, Stonebow (1977), a gargantuan arch designed to be situated over canyon topographies, as well as, Arcbeam Variation (1977), a giant multi-layered bridge-like structure designed to be situated between two cliffs or mountains. Whilst a cursory viewing of his conceptual sketches and reading of his theories might lead one to believe he is some sort of jelly-minded Utopian, he is nothing of the sort. During a 2008 interview between Soleri and The Guardian reporter, Steve Rose, the journalist inquires as to the feasibility of creating a “utopia” without money to which the architect responded, Utopia is a pretty stupid notion.”5

It strikes me as rather odd that Mr. Rose would make such a inquiry given that he conducted his interview in the Arcosanti, a arcological city designed as a alternative to the traditional American urban sprawl by none other than Soleri himself! Now, it bears noting, that the Arcosanti even now, as of this writing in 2018, is not yet completed, but the fact that it exists at all, attests to the immediate practicability of, at least some, his designs.

Thus far we have established three points of import: Firstly, we have established what arcologies are, secondly, we have established that arcologies are required for the future development of technologically advanced peoples due to urban concentration, and, thirdly, we have established arcologies are, at least in some of their variations, immediately viable. However, the uniqueness of particular nations, countries and empires bears factoring into this tripartie equation; one cannot merely say, ecologies should be built, or, ecologies need to be built, and simply leave it at that. We must tackle the specific kinds of ecologies which should be built and, additionally, address, precisely why and how they should be built. Soleri’s Arcosanti, for instance, was created specifically for Americans as a reaction to the cloistering penchants of modern urban architecture. Hence, Soleri, like all good architects, took both the question of topography and identity into consideration; the topography of the land, the identity of the people who will prospectively occupy the structure and, finally, the identity of the prospective architecture itself to ensure that it is commensurate with those who will there taken up residence.

For our purposes we shall narrow our focus upon prospective Arcological methods for the United States.

On The Prospect of Inverse Arcologies

Arcologies, as formulated by Soleri, are generally conceived of as towering megastructures; but let us consider a different formulation, a inverse arcology, one which goes downward instead of up. To build down means to traverse one of two domains: The earth and the waters.

Chthonic Arcology

Modern architecture already entails a good deal of chthonic burrowing, such as: subways, basements, bunkers, mausoleums, mine-shafts and vaults. To go further and build a habitable domicile is not just practicable, but already a reality. For instance, in Festus, Missouri, a 15,000-square foot home was built inside of a sandstone cavern, dubbed, the Cave House. The structure blends seamlessly into the cave walls for both aesthetic appeal and pragmatic effect as geothermal design wholly eliminates the need for additional heating and cooling modules such as air conditioning units or electric or gas heaters. The case of Cave House, though not a arcology, is promising given that there is nothing which prohibits those same techniques and materials being utilized towards subterranean city development other than a willingness to take the plunge. Once such a process becomes mainlined then the additional mind-power required to begin fleshing out possible arcological models for underground self-sufficiency (such as thermal capture, deep gardens and watershed exploitation).

Then there is the fantastical underground city known as the Shanghai Tunnels or Portland Underground, in Portland, Oregon, used in the 1850s to the 1940s for the imprisonment and transportation of captured laborers – slaves – to be utilized by unscrupulous seamen in their travels to the Orient (a practiced colloquially referred to as Shanghaiing). Women who were captured were, according to legend, typically sold as prostitutes for the enjoyment of libidinous seamen. Though the dense and winding passageways beneath Portland’s Chinatown (also known as ‘Old Town’ or ‘Central Downtown Portland’) were utilized for rather unsavoury ends, the infrastructure was (or rather, still is) highly sophisticated and even housed various subterranean living quarters, primarily prison cells used to hold the various men and women who were dragged down into the labyrinth. Again, the Portland Underground is not a arcology but given that it shows the answer to the question, “Are modern underground cities feasible?” is an obvious, “Yes,” the question then becomes, “Where then to build and how?” Let us turn our attention to abandoned mines as a prospective domain of conquest.

There are approximately 500,000 unoperational mines in the United States of America, according to Abandoned Mines.gov, a website managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Some place this number higher, given the difficult of mapping hazardous topography and the fact that some mines are so old that documentation concerning them is all but impossible to find. Governmental statistics from 2014 show 46,000 abandoned mines on public property. Given the fact that so much funding and man-power is already being directed towards modulated these empty husks of former productivity, it stands as imminently reasonable to propose that we go all in on these myriad projects and transmogrify them wholly. Instead of dark and echoing pits, into which, the hapless wayfarer might be plunged, arcological mapping might produce a luminous and bustling cultural hub, or transportation terminus. The Department of the Interior has projected that the Environmental Protection Agency’s empty mine clean-up plan would require approximately 72 billion dollars (2.4 billion dollars from tax payers), and that is only for hard rock mines, meaning, those mines which separate minerals from metals, and does not cover any other mine variants. One might fashion a new and more efficacious plan which lowers the total cost for equipment, manpower, transportation and tailing clean-up and put those saved funds into renovating vibrant living spaces within what would be, even after EPA interference, hollowed out caverns. This plan would be especially useful for those mines which are slated for re-opening as some portion of the arcological space would be able to function for them as a home-away-from-home during their labors and, in time, may even birth whole new cities which would continuously expand themselves as their inhabitants drilled further and further into the earth, chasing the precious metals and minerals therein.

Abyssal Arcology

Let us dispense with any silly notions about the impossibility of underwater cities and let us also cast off our fears of the inherent dangers there implied. Japan’s Shimizu Corporation announced, in 2014, plans for a underwater city designed to accommodate 5000 people. The project, entitled, Ocean Spiral, was given the green light in 2015 and consisted of blueprints which proposed a series of massive interlinked orbs, 1600 feet in diameter, with exceedingly long screw-like extensions which would burrow into the seabed where they would connect with various modules that would be utilized as outposts for resource collection, such as mining. The spiral surrounding the floating spheres of project Ocean Spiral would serve a additional function other than connecting to the seafloor, namely, energy collection. Given the scarcity of power options so deep underneath the ocean, the theorists behind the project realized that the structure would require a built in power-source, thus, the spiral would capture thermal energy from the ocean generated from the difference between the cooler lower seawater and the warmer shallows and then use that captured energy to power steam-turbines within the spiral, a process referred to as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). Shimizu Corp also believes it is feasible to utilize microorganisms that live upon the seabed to harvest energy by using them to convert carbon dioxide into methane. The question of sustenance is easily answered given the bounty of the sea, though to ensure a goodly supply, fish and crustacean farms and underwater gardens would be built into and around the structures and water would be desalinated via a reverse osmosis membrane from the ocean. Each sphere within the spiral would be able to move up and down at-will and operate like spacious slow-moving submarines with the uppermost sphere acting as the principal residential area.

In a interview with The Guardian in 2014, Shimizu Corp’s spokesman, Hideo Imamura stated, “This is a real goal, not a pipe dream. The Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented – in the same way, the technology and knowhow we need for this project will become available.”6

Thus, we see that not only are inverse arcologies possible, they are already being designed (Ocean Spiral, for instance, is speculated to be built and prepped for human habitation sometime around 2030).

1United Nations, World Prospects, 2007 revision.

2Arcology is a portmanteau of “architecture” and “ecology.” See, Soleri, Paolo (1973), The Bridge Between Matter & Spirit is Matter Becoming Spirit.

3The Omega-Point is the belief that all things in existence are destined to move towards the creation of a superintelligence born out of the evolutionary process. Chardin’s theory is similar to the heat death hypothesis proffered by many physicists and cosmologists, differing in that he believed that the process would operate beyond the strictures of entropy. The idea might best be summarized via Kurzweil, “Evolution moves inexorably toward our conception of God, albeit never reaching this ideal.”

4Jeff Stein, The City 2.0, TEDxMission, Nov. 9th, 2012.

5Steve Rose, The Man Who Saw The Future, (The Guardian, 2008).

6Katharine J. Tobal, Japan Releases Plans For Futuristic Underwater Cities By 2030, Nov. 25, 2014.