Monday, April 01, 2013


      Shadow's Secret Gouache on paper
First things first...good news...a few good things have happened in the last couple of weeks.
1. Just over two weeks ago I sold a large painting Quiet Fierceness of Light! The people who bought it wanted a painting for their fabulous new apartment. They wanted an impact piece to hang over the dining room table. The painting looks fantastic and is in direct line of sight of the front door. I took 5 paintings, which were chosen as possibilities by the buyers, over to their apartment and we spent a couple of hours playing with each painting, before they decided on Quiet Fierceness of Light.
2. Just on two weeks ago my father survived emergency surgery. He was given a %20 chance of surviving the operation and he beat the odds. He has already had two open heart surgery operations, one in his 40s, and one in his 50s. I won't go into details, but suffice to say he is obviously as strong as an ox and an example of modern medicine's ability to sustain life and wellbeing.
3. A few days ago Nancy Ellen Abrams, co-author with her husband Prof. Joel Primack of The New Universe and The Human Future, tweeted my post and painting Cosmic Address. Needless to say I was very grateful for this! Within a few hours of her tweet, Deepak Chopra had retweeted Nancy's tweet! Since then I have had a huge increase in visitors to my BLOG. Indeed, I am very grateful.
   Shadow Play Gouache on paper
Why did I call this post Risky Business? Well...for a few reasons, but in general because life is full of risk. This is not a bad thing, it's just a fact. We don't generally think about it, unless we are doing something new or potentially dangerous. Or, placed in a situation like my father. Yet, risk is an interesting subject whether it's about an individual or a collective...and it becomes fascinating when it's about the whole of humanity.
CSG Example
I have previously written about risk, particularly pertaining to the coal seam gas [CSG]industry here in Australia and overseas. To read my previous post called RISK please click HERE In this post I write about the difference between the % risk considered appropriate for business and that which may be considered appropriate for science. There is a large difference! In my mind, activities such as CSG extraction are too risky, not just for the immediate locale, but for humanity. These activities place underground and above ground water quantity and quality at risk. Soil degradation, health issues, whole process methane leakage, environmental issues and more have a cumulative potential that is a threat to humanity eg: food production.
If one locale continues with activities that hold a risk to the immediate environment...well it's not good....but if all over the world a mindset about the benefits of such activities like CSG means it becomes a global activity, then I suggest it becomes a risk to and into the future. For me much of the risk with CSG is that people are viewing it with a business risk analysis rather than a scientific one.
Tonight ABC's 4Corners aired a program called 'Gas Leak' which exemined CSG exploration in Queensland and New South Wales. Amongst many issues, the various problems associated with aquifers is becoming serious. This is despite repeated warnings, over the last few years, from farmers, scientists, environmentalists and even the Federal Government's Water Commission 2010 position paper calling for caution.
[Happy to say my painting Risk featured in the earlier BLOG post RISK sold to a stockbroker!]
I have just read a fascinating fable The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant written by philosopher Prof Nick Bostrom. He is Professor, Faculty of Philosophy & Oxford Martin School; Director, Future of Humanity Institute; Director, Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, University of Oxford. The fable suggests that aging, and our acceptance of it as fate, are major problems for, and risks to humanity. In his TED presentation in 2007 he lists 'death' as the first of three major problems facing humanity.
Please visit his home page, where there is a plethora of fascinating links and articles covering an array of interesting subjects.
 Towards The Past and Future Gouache on paper
In the fable thousands of people are delivered daily to a fierce dragon who eats them. This goes on for decades and decades, until finally effort is put into technology to combat the dragon. Very early on the humans decide, in order to keep the dragon placated, to send older and elderly people to their violent and sacrificial demise. Yes, this is sad, but I'd say, a clever initial solution. Why? Because sending young people would have certainly diminished, if not wiped out, the potential for new births...ultimately leading to no humanity at all. Well, maybe all the old people would have spent time cloning themselves as dragon fodder? I doubt it, because it took them long enough to develop the technology to kill the dragon. So, initially the humans bought time, but they essentially wasted it, until a young boy reminded them to be humane.
The idea that aging and death are serious issues facing humanity got me thinking. I agree that they are significant issues, but I suggest that a more important vulnerability is fertility ie: the ability to produce, have and nurture life. I have previously written about Lord Martin Rees and his wonderful book 'Our Final Century'. In this book Rees examines a number of potential and cataclysmic demises for humanity and/or the planet. I gathered that he thought the most frightening danger is the aberrant group or individual, who if undetected, is able to produce something which annihilates humanity. What if an aberrant group or individual deliberately...or accidently...produced something that rendered all humans infertile, neutered all reproductive viability?
Would cloning be an answer? Would enhancing longevity be an answer? Would merging human and machine be an answer? These potential answers are all about the continuance of life already in existence, not the creation of new life.
Seeking The Past and Future Gouache on paper
So, this risky business of me thinking.
For me, two significant dangers are 1. potential threats to human fertility and reproductive viability and 2. insanity.....!!!!
An aberrent individual or group, with a desire to create something that could potentially wipe out the human race and/or destroy the planet, would by definition be insane. How prevalent is insanity in the community? Insanity does not mean unintelligent, and that's where the danger and risk, suggested by Rees's concerns about aberrant groups or individuals, lies.
So many questions! They cast shadows across life, but they also remind us of life. A shadow cast by a rising sun heralds a future. A shadow cast by a setting sun does not necessarily herald an end, but rather the fulsomeness of life already lived, a past. This past can be an individual one or representative of humanity's universal past. From a cosmic point of view if everything in the Universe is made of star dust created at the big bang, then we never die, we just return to the stars.
How's that for a poetic end?

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