Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Keeping Abreast in Our Times

Global trends that are changing the way we live
LAWIN Lecture-Forum, May 9 2017
Dr Abe V Rotor

We are living in POSTMODERN times.  It means we are living tomorrow today.
It means we are living under simultaneous eras and movements which never happened in our  history: Green revolution, Industrial revolution, Environmental Revolution, Information revolution, Women’s Liberation, Cyber communication, Space travel. 

Participants pose with resource speaker Dr Abe V Rotor 
(center), LAWIN officers, and Barangay coordinators. 

1. Shrinking Nature - displacement of natural habitats with man-made settlements, wildlife is vanishing both in areas and biological diversity. Nature reserves cannot compensate for such loss, and will never be able to bring about ecological balance as a whole. "It is no longer us against Nature, instead it's we who decide what nature is and what it will be." says Paul Crutzen, Nobel Prize Awardee.

"The world in our hands"

2. Stressful modern living - the higher the status the more stressful life is. The social ladder takes us to the syndrome posed by Paulas' Hope for the Flowers. There is really nothing up there, but a stressful life at the apex of society. The stressors affecting the poor are different from those in higher society. Those suffering of high-status stress find it more difficult to adjust than their counterpart in lower society.
3. Loss of privacy - Yet we always strive to retain our privacy even in public. No way: the computer has all the info about us - true or not; our relationships on various levels, more so with our public image. Hidden cameras are everywhere, on the other hand we too, intrude into the privacy of others. GPS gives us information about places, with minute details, often intruding to one's privacy similar to trespassing.

4. Aging gracefully and Niche Aging - Forget conventional wisdom; gray-haired societies aren't a problem. Longevity is increasing all over the world: the average age of a Japanese is 78 years with America following at its heels with 75 or 76 years. We are quite close to China with at least 70 years. Science and technology, socio-cultural and economic opportunities make ageing a privilege today.

In an article - Niche Aging, author Harriet Barovick said, "...the generic settlement model is starting to give way to what developers are calling affinity housing - niche communities where people as they advance in age opt to grow old alongside others who share a specific interest. Niche living is the latest step in the evolution of the planned retirement community.

5. "Immortal" Food - Food that virtually last forever (by increasing the shelf life), while there is a current trend which is the opposite. Go natural - food, clothing, energy, housing, and practically anything we eat and use everyday. (See article, Living Naturally, in this Blog)

6. Black Irony - Blackness has many connotations and implications - principally, historical and religious. Black means race, hell, disease, death, hopelessness, discrimination. But all these cannot not be grossly weighed as negative or destructive. Today when we talk of black we may be referring to the colored athletes who dominate many sports, great leaders of movements like Wangari who planted millions of trees in Kenya, and not to look far, President Obama of the US, and the living hero of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Racial discrimination - racism and apartheid - may soon be a thing of the past. It is because man is created equal beneath their skin, and in fact, by circumstance, the colored races have proved superiority over the non-colored: in schools, scientific discoveries, business, technology - name it and you have a colored standing out.

7. "Handprints, not Footprints" - a more encouraging way to conceptualize our impact in our handprints; the sum of all the reductions we make in our footprints." Says the brainchild of this idea, a Harvard professor. We can reduce the impact of living against the environment - less CO2, less CFC, less non-biodegradables and other synthetics, less pesticides, etc. On the other side of the equation would be the number of trees we plant, our savings on electricity and water. Lesser pollutants, if not arresting pollution itself - and the like.

8. "Your head is in the cloud" - The best way to explain this is in the article written by Annie Murphy Paul. To quote: "Inundated by more information that we can possibly hold in our heads, we're increasingly handing off the job of remembering to search engines and smart phones." Never mind memorizing the multiplication table, or Mendeleev's Periodic Table of Elements. Spelling of a word, its homonym, antonym? Check it out on the computer. Presto! it will correct the word automatically. Search Love, and it comes in a thousand-and-one definitions. Assignment? Search, download, print, submit - just don't forget to place your name. Psychologists are back to the drawing board about learning. They have proposed a new term - transactive memory, a prelude to blending natural and artificial intelligence.

9. The rise of Nones - Nones are people who have no religious affiliation. More and more people are dissociating from organized religions, a kind of freedom to feel more devoted to God, of moving away from the scandals of the church, and money-making religions . For most, they are not rejecting God. They are rejecting organized religion as being rigid and dogmatic. However, a survey in the US showed that spiritual connection and community hasn't be severed by this new trend. Forty percent (40%) of the unaffiliated are fairly religious, and many of them are still hoping to eventually find the right religious home.

10. Living alone is the new norm - Solitary living is spreading all over the world. It is the biggest social change that has been long neglected. Living solo is highest in Sweden (47%), followed by Britain (37%). Following the list in decreasing order are Japan, Italy, US, Canada, Russia, South Africa, Kenya, and Brazil (10%). Living alone helps people pursue sacred modern values - individual freedom, personal control and self realization. In Lonely American, however, Harvard psychiatrists warn of increased aloneness and the movement toward greater social isolation, which are detrimental to health and happiness to the person, and in the long run, to the community and nation.

11. Common Wealth - National interests aren't what they used to be. Our survival requires global solutions. The defining challenge of the 21st century will be to face the reality that humanity shares a common fate on a crowded planet. Global warming, acid rain, El NiƱo, don't know political boundaries.

12. The End of Customer Service - With self-service technology, you'll never have to see a clerk again. It is an era of self-service - from filling up gas to banking to food service. Swipe your ID card to enter an office or a school campus. Credit cards abound, so with many kinds of coupons, all self service.

13. The Post-Movie-Star Era. Get ready for more films in which the leading man is not"he" but "Who?" Goodbye James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Fernando Poe Jr. Welcome Nemo in Finding Nemo, Xi in Gods Must be Crazy.

14. Reverse Radicalism . Want to stop terrorism? Start talking to terrorists who stop themselves. Conflicts arising from radicalism can be settled through peaceful rather than by bloody means.

15. Kitchen Chemistry . Why the squishy art of cooking is giving way to cold, hard science? There are specialized courses in culinary art, with the chef as central figure with a degree. Hom,e economics has grown into Hotel and Restaurant Management.

16. Geoengineering . Messing with Nature caused global warming. Messing with it more might fix it. Can we ignite a volcano to cool the earth like the eruption of Mt Pinatubo did twenty years ago? Scientists believe we can divert an approaching typhoon out of its path. Better still abort it at its early stage.

17.Curing the "Dutch Disease." How resource-rich nations can unravel the paradox of plenty. It's true, oil-rich nations in the Middle East - and Holland, and lately Nigeria, where the term was developed - are not growing fast in terms of Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Now compare this is non-oil rich nations like China and Vietnam, which are growing close to 10 percent annually in GDP.

18. Women's Work. Tapping the female entrepreneurial; spirit can pay big dividends. Women's Lib brought the female species at par - if not excel - with its counterpart. More and more women are occupying high positions in government and industries. Women may soon have higher literacy rates than men.

19. Beyond the Olympics. Coming: Constant TV coverage of global sporting events. Boxing grew into various titles, football games in various tournaments fill the TV screen. New sports and games are coming out.

20. Jobs Are the New Assets. A sampling of fast-growing occupations - Actuaries, financial analyst, computer programmer, fitness trainer, biophysicists, translators, manicurists, marriage counselors, radiologists. Need a design for your product? Give it to an IT graduate with a background in design. Need a kind of product or service not found in the mall or supermarket, search the Internet. Entrepreneurs have taken over much of the functions of big business. Unemployment has given rise to this new breed - the entrepreneurs.

21. Recycling the Suburbs. Environmentalists will celebrate the demise of sprawling suburbs, which left national addicted to cars. Infrastructures will be converted in favor of "green", town centers, public libraries, museums, sports centers, parks. Notice the gas stations along NLEX and South Road, they have transformed into a complex where motorists can enjoy their brief stopover. More and more countries are imposing regulation to green the cities, from sidewalks to rooftops. Hanging Gardens of Babylon, anyone. If this was one of the wonders of the ancient world, why certainly we can make a replicate - perhaps a bigger one - given all our modern technology and enormous available capital.

22. The New Calvinism. More moderate evangelicals are exploring cures for doctrinal drift, offering some assurance to " a lot of young people growing up in sub-cultures of brokenness, divorce, drugs, sexual temptations, etc."

23. Reinstating the Interstate, the Superhighways. These are becoming a new network of light rail and "smart power" electric grid. This is the alternative to car culture that thrives on fossil fuel and promotes suburban sprawl.

24. Amorality. Amorality - "non-moral sensitive" or "neutral morality' - whatever you may call it, this thinking has revolutionized our attitudes toward age. There are people who "refuse to grow old," people who wish to be resurrected from his cryonized corpse.

25. Africa , Business Destination. Next "economic miracle" is in the black continent. Actually it has began stirring the economic consciousness of investors and developers

                                                                                       Distorted reality, abstract painting, AVR

26. The Rent-a-Country. Corporate Farming, an approach pioneered by the Philippines in the 60's and 70s, is now adopted by giant companies to farm whole valleys, provinces, island, of countries other than their own. Call it neo-colonialism, - these are food contracts, the latest new green revolution, more reliable food security.

27. Biobanks. Safe deposits - freezers full of tissues for transplants, cryotude for blood samples, liquid nitrogen storage for sperms and eggs, test-tube baby laboratories and clinics. Welcome, surrogate motherhood, post-menopausal technology, in-situ cloning, multiple birth technology, and the like.

28. Survival Stores. Sensible shops selling solar panels, electric bicycles, power generators, energy food bars, portable windmill, etc. Attributes: living off the grid, smart recycling, sustainability, consume less, self-sufficiency, basic+ useful, durable lifetime guarantee, hip + cool community, independent, responsible, co-op, brand-free, out of the oven, goodness-driven, health fitness, meditation, bartering, sharing, socialistic capitalism.
 Postmodern architecture.  Bird’s nest stadium, Beijing China 

29. Ecological Intelligence. There are guidelines now available to judge products on their social and environmental impact. This is new culture characterized by environment-consciousness, environment-friendliness. Here life-cycle assessment and clean-up corporate ecology become an obligation. We are going back - happily and beautifully to a simple and natural lifestyle.

30. Ecomigration - As global warming continues and the sea level rises more and more low lying areas will be swallowed up by the sea. Before this happens, people will have to move to safer grounds. This phenomenon is happening to many island in the Pacific, among them the Kiribati and Micronesia groups of islands.

References: Living with Nature in Our Times AVR; Time Magazine, March 24, 2008 and March 23, 2009; Time Magazine March 12, 2012 Please visit website avrotor.blogspot.com  

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