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Jeremy Rifkin - The Empathic Civilization (BREAKNECK DUB MIX)

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We may be at a pivotal turning point. Human beings have only been here about 175,000 years We're the youngsters But I suspect that we may be seeing the potential extinction of our species sometime in the next century it's difficult to say this ... but I'm going to share a little statistic with you and you make the judgement call The real economy is photosynthesis The sun's energy bathes the earth We pick up photosynthesis in our plants And all the rest of the economic activity for our fellow creatures and our species is all dependant on that bottom line We're now using 24% of all the photosynthesis It takes my breath away We have become monsters It just isn't sustainable We have to change You remember in July 2008 Price of oil went up to $147 Inflation soared Basic items, including groceries at the food store, all of our pharmaceutical products, most of our clothes, our transportation, our power, our heat, our light, our logistics, our supply chain It's all made of carbon deposits the engine turned off That was the meltdown The collapse of the financial market 60 days later, that was the aftershock Right now the economy's starting to grow but what's happening? You tell me how we get through that wall of $147 This is an endgame We are there Fast Forward: December 2009, Copenhagen World leaders of 192 countries come together to address the spent cO2 from two centuries of using fossil fuels The frame of this seems to big to comprehend I believe the problem lies deeper than just the inability to come up with a new global mechanism to regulate a global economy My sense is that the problem lies with the fact that we are continuing to rely on 18th and 19th century ideas about human nature and the human journey, that were spawned at the beginning of the market era, the nation state era. For 1500 years the church had the last say on human nature The little baby is born in sin, depraved and if we want salvation, we have to wait for Christ End of story John Locke, the great political philosopher of the enlightenment said look babies are born 'tabula rasa', blank slate He said however there is a predisposition to acquire property Somebody should've caught him on that Adam Smith, the great Scottish economist of the enlightenment said but he said our key nature is we are born with a drive to be autonomous and pursue our material self interest in the market The very basis of classical economic theory Later in the 19th century, Jeremy Bentham said little babies are actually born with a desire to have pleasure, and to avoid pain, and we are driven by utilitarian desires Charles Darwin said every organism Sigmund Frued said actually little babies are born with an insatiable sexual appetite and want to extinguish their libido Is that what it's all about? Our little babies? And mom and dad looked in their eyes, is that what we're seeing? Evil, depraved, rational, calculating, detached, autonomous, self-interested, driven by materialism, utilitarian to the core and seeking to extinguish their libido If that is our human nature, I suspect we're doomed But there is another frame of reference emerging in the sciences Which is quite interesting, really challenges these assumptions And with that the institutions we have created Our educational institutions, our business practices, our governing institutions, etc, Let me take you back to the early 1990's Scientists had a MRI on a macaque monkey So the monkeys's trying to open a nut, neurons light up And he was hungry, saw the nuts, opened up one of the nuts and tried to crack it open The macaque monkey didn't move he just gazed up at this human trying to open up the nut opening the nut as when the monkey opened the nut They then began to put MRI's on other primates And then they went to humans And what they found is something called 'mirror neurons' and that is that we are apparently soft-wired with mirror neurons so that if I'm observing you Your anger, your frustration, your sense of rejerction, your joy I can feel what you're doing, the same neurons will light up in me as if I'm having that experience myself This isn't all that unusual We are actually soft-wired to experience anothers plight as if we are experiencing it ourself Mirror neurons are just the beginning of a whole range of research going on in neuro psychology, brain research, and child development that suggests that we are actually soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, companionship, and that the first drive is the drive to actually belong What is empathy, very complicated The other babies will cry in response, they just don't know why Once a toddler can identify themselves, then they know that if they're observing someone else have a feeling... they're feeling it because someone else has it They're two separate beings Selfhood goes together with empathic development Increasing selfhood, increasing empathic development and that every moments is precious, and that they have their own unique history It allows the child, then, to experience another's plight in the same way So if you think about the times when we've empathized with each other their struggle to be and to flourish and we show solidarity with our compassion empathy is the opposite of utopia There is no empathy in utopia because there is no suffering So when we talk about building an empathic civilization we're not talking about utopia, we're talking about the ability of human being to show solidarity not only with each other but our fellow creatures who have a one and only life on this little planet We are Homo Empathicus So here's the question: We know that consciousness changes in history The way our brain is wired today is not the way a medieval serf's brain would be wired So the question I asked at the beginning of this study is: How does consciousness change in history? The historians were not of much help to me because the historians chronicle pathology The holocausts, the genocides, the blow-backs the colonization, the wars, the exploitation, the redress of grievances, why? They're newsworthy because they're not what we ordinarily know every day But then when you chronicle all of history with the pathological moments We get a pretty dim vision of the human race George Fredrick Hegel said "Happiness are the blank pages of history" Historians don't write about them But if we were pathological the way historians said we would've perished a long time ago we'd be so monstrous when we create more complex energy regimes in more complex civilizations It requires a second thing A communication revolution to manage these new energy regimes These convergences of communication and energy are very interesting because the communication revolution not only organizes the energy it changes the mind, it changes consciousness fundamentally Empathy is what allows us to stretch our sensibility with another so that we can cohere in larger social units To empathize is to civilize To civilize is to empathize And this doesn't happen in some kind of a beautifully linear way There are blowbacks And many times the blowbacks happen at the end of one civilization and the beginning of another when new identities put in doubt the old identities and the xenophobism kicks back with a vengeance. But if we have gone from empathy in blood ties To empathy in religious associational ties Is it really a big stretch to imagine the new technologies allowing us to connect our empathy to the human race writ large in a single biosphere? And for what reason would we stop here? At the nation state identity? and only have ideological empathy, or theological based empathy, or tribal based, blood tie empathy? There is a deep paradox to history As we create increasingly more complex energy consuming civilizations They certainly bring more people together, stretch consciousness, stretch empathy but at the expense on entropy. It's really an empathy/entropy paradox Today we're in a globally connected world Our youngsters can begin to empathize across all the traditional lines In the last 50 years, imaginehow empathy has extended: Women, the disabled, those of different sexual preferences the people of color, minorities, and now to our fellow creatures We're beginning to recognize as having rights and recognition, and law This has all happened very quickly in terms of the long history of empathy We almost can grasp the possibility of global empathy It is a bittersweet irony. The empathy/entropy paradox How do we break it? We are on the cusp of a new energy/communications convergence We had a very impressive communication revolution the last ten years This second generation communication is very different than first generation That was top down Telegraph, telephone, cinema, radio, television: centralized The new communication, the ICT revolution is open source, flat, It's distributed Meaning 2 billion people can put a little utensil in their hand and they can send their own video/audio/text to all the other 2 billion people at the same time, at the speed of light What I want to suggest to you is that this distributed communication revolution is just now converging with a new energy regime: Distributed Energy What are distributed energies? Let's compare them to elite energies: fossil fuels first and second industrial revolutions are the most elite centralized energy infrastructures we've ever created They're elite because they're only found in certain places, they require huge military investments to secure them, huge geo-politicial investments to manage them, massive capital flows to organize them, those energies are sunsetting, the infrastructure based on them has been on life support since July 2008, it is not coming back It is not coming back Not coming back What are distributed energies? Go home tonight you have all the energy you need in the backyard Wind blows across this world every day The sun shines on this planet We all have heat under the ground Wherever there is water you have small hydro-electricity We have agriculture and forest waste in the rural areas and the ocean tides coming in and out every day These are distributed energies The first idea is "oh, let's go where the sun is, the Mediterranean, harness the sun and ship it across Europe" "Or let's find the wind, or Ireland, harness the wind, centralize it, ship it back." I do not oppose centralized solar and wind but that's not 21st century thinking If renewable energies are distributed found in virtually every square foot of this world Why would we only collect them in a few central points? The vision in the third industrial revolution roll out is converted to a partial power plant So it can collect the distributed energy around the building We have buildings up now in Spain, and Paris they actually produce more power than they need Just from the local energy around them How do we store renewable energy? Cause the sun isn't always shining, the wind isn't always blowing So let's say the sun is hitting your roof, generate a little electricity we have some surplus: electrolyze water; high school chemistry We got the anode, the cathode, we slip it in the water and the hydrogen comes out, you put it in a tank Hydrogen storage technology to store these energies We also like other storage: batteries, fly reels, capacitors, water pumping, whatever works And then when you need the electricity because the sun isn't shining convert it back to electricity Yes, there is an energy loss Second Law of Thermodynamics: Whenever you convert energy you lose energy you always lose And if we understood the amount of conversion loss in bringing uranium to the nuclear power plant or coal to your house It's through the roof compared to what I've just talked about We use the same exact technology that created the internet We take the power grid and transform it to an inter-grid that acts like the internet When millions of buildings are producing just a little bit of their own energy Storing it with hydrogen like you store digital in media And then what they don't need sharing it across europe with distributed IT, the actual power exceed anything you could imagine with centralized nuclear and coal fire power plants and everyone under the age of 30 that grew up on file sharing knows exactly what I'm talking about We called it cheating: file sharing and the music companies collapsed within 6 years The newspapers did not see the blogosphere's coming and the newspapers are now in trouble Microsoft did not see Linux coming Distributed power, won't work, on the commons? Not a chance And encyclopedia Britannica didn't see Wikipedia coming For a generation that grew up with the idea of producing your own information and sharing it of generating their own energy and be responsible for sharing it across continents This gives us distributed consciousness, maybe biosphere consciousness because when all of us take responsibility for that small swath of the biosphere where we're husbandering the photosynthesis and then we share it with our neighbors across continents The kids in first grade are learning that everything they do, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the electricity they use the car their family drives... All of that impacts some other human being or some other creature somewhere else in the biosphere, cause we're all connected That's a revolution. We have the technology that allows us to extend the central nervous system and to think viscerally as a family and the young people took to the streets because of the flawed election You recall that one young woman was shot down Within four hours an entire generation around the world knew her name her family, her facebook, It was visceral, we could see it right there We are extending the central nervous system to connect the human race It's not going to give us utopia It's not going to eliminate the fragilities, and the inconsistencies But it will give us a sense of our stewardship of this planet People say; "well how do we do this in time?" I don't know if there's enough time The only thing I know for sure is we didn't need the scientist to tell us about empathy We know at the end of our life and we look back, we don't look back and we don't say "Gee that moment where I made a new deal, I felt really impregnable as an island to myself, I felt really detatched and rational, really objective, I was able to extinguish my libido and enjoy my utility" There may be some pathological person that does that But when we look back at our life, we look back and it's the moments where we had that empathic connection, where we transcended ourselves and could actually feel a loved one or someone else as if we were experiencing ourself We feel super-alive It's one of those moments where we actually feel transcendence And you don't have to be religious And we felt we're connected to this mystery called life it makes us feel alive to be in solidarity with someone else's struggle to be That would make a darn good civilization If all of us felt that way When the astronauts took their last apollo mission across the dark side of the moon and our boys came out on the bright side and the sun was shining on the Earth and all of it's color They snapped a few photos showing the Earth from outer space in all of it's fragility, it's beauty, it's majesty, Everyone under 30 has this everyday with Google Maps today The new energy communication changes consciousness we have to rethink the human narrative Rethinking human nature to bring out our empathic sociability So that we can rethink the institutions of society and prepare the groundwork for an empathic civilization If we can do that we may have a enough time before we face extinction It'll be up to us, and especially the young people here to make sure this discussion happens (applause)

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Duration: 14 minutes and 32 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: michaelycus on Feb 29, 2012

Jeremy Rifkin - The Empathic Civilization (BREAKNECK DUB MIX)

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