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(092112)

TimeLine - Signs of the Times


Accelerating Global Change
Where Does It Lead?


Perhaps you think of change in terms of climate or world economies, but there is more to what drives change. Technologies have moved us (physically and electronically) faster over the face of the earth, while others have taken us to the far reaches of the universe and into the minute details of living cells and even the intricacies of the atom. Information about all such things mounts like a spike all its own. The pace of all this is ever accelerating! We personally just cannot absorb the significance of all the new found knowledge ... and still, daily, it piles up by the terabytes.

Now, consider that the abrupt acceleration that took our transportation technology from the horse-drawn carriage to interplanetary flight in a single century is continuing exponentially.

... It's significant that even as NASA scientists were preparing the Sojourner exploration of Mars and the Casini probe to Venus and Saturn in 1997, other scientists were probing realms too small in size for even electron microscopes to see. And those are not the only directions exploration is going; there are the frontiers of the human genome project, of our evolutionary past, of interspecies communication, of outer space, and of the possibility of an evolutionary leap. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 71

Further accelerations to change rework the landscapes around us. What looks like progress in human habitation takes away arable farm land or wilderness areas once occupied by natural ecosystems and the indigenous biodiversity. In some cases the urban sprawl creates fragments of the natural areas that effectively isolate plant and animal populations that in turn enter a cycle of decline leading to extinction.

... In the past quarter-century, millions of acres of the world's richest farmland have been covered with new housing developments, industrial parks, and pavement. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 73

There are so many issues to follow, so many places to illustrate ongoing change and the impacts that result through change, yet tracking change does not necessarily halt the loses or alter the changed character of the land, water, or local air quality. But what comes as a surprise now is that the way we conduct our business starts a series of events which add to unexpected changes down the road.

In any case, tracking changes in baseline assumptions for forecasting isn't the hardest part of keeping up with the accelerating pace of change. Still harder is anticipating the emergence of entirely new factors affecting what will happen. Again, in trying to forecast the future of the food supply, consider that the spike of global commerce has brought a huge increase in the movement of non-native species of plants, animals, and microorganisms over the planet.

... With marine organisms carried in the ballast water of giant ships, viruses in the lungs of millions of tourists, and exotic animals or plants in the jet planes of high-volume wildlife traders, the biosphere is being subjected to unprecedented biological mixing. Among the mounting "bioinvasions"–introductions of organisms to ecosystems where they did not evolve and where they often have no natural predators to keep them in check–are hundreds of new agricultural pests. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 75

Biodiversity is threatened by 'bioinvasion' or 'biological pollution' where nonnative species are brought into areas where these species are not naturally found. But the unnatural presence of these introduced species affects the natural and local residents. Competition for resources between the natural and unnatural species typically creates an imbalance that we cannot foresee until some dramatic changes surface.

... Within a very short time, the spiking of human population and consumption has thrown into our path a whole new set of security threats, and most of today's wars are either triggered or exacerbated by these threats. They include: ...
- Looting of resources by transnational corporations. ...
- The emergence of new and resurgent diseases. ...
- Use of weapons of mass destruction by groups or individuals not allied with any government. ...
- Rising refugee and migrant flows.
... Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 77

So much of what provides our technology and modern life style seems to come from a source of infinite potential. Yet, in many places, there are mining operations exploiting earth's 'free' deposits as if the unearthed resources are themselves of infinite supply ... and as if of no cost other than the labor and energy used in extraction.

... we can enjoy the amenities of our lives without having any inkling of what chain of events brought them about–or of what it may have cost to produce them. After all, in an age of information explosion, the sum total of human knowledge–of what there is to see and to plan for–is expanding far faster than even the most brilliant people are capable of keeping pace with. One unarguable result: with every passing year, each of us knows a smaller fraction of what there is to know than we knew the year before. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 80

The pace of mining, fabrication and manufacturing, of information gathering and technology development, all separate us from the reality of cost. Global change costs something. Some point to the limited non-renewable resources and say when these are depleted the cost will be our future!

... It is the dogmas of economics, rather than the laws of nature, which govern the globalism that now has us in its thrall. The most central of those dogmas is a belief in the logic of limitless growth. To economic theorists, growth could mean increasing wealth–or quality of life–without increasing energy consumption or pollution to unsustainable levels. It could be done by increasing the energy efficiency of products, by redesigning communities, by encouraging more sharing of underutilized capacity (do ten adjacent townhouses need ten power lawn mowers?), and by a number of other well-proven strategies. But most economists don't bother to make this clear to the political and business leaders for whom they work. So, to most people, economic growth just means more consumption. The spike continues to rise. And most economists, who aren't required to balance global accounts, go along with the illusion. As long as societies don't require them to reconcile their view of the expanding economy with the views now seen by experts on human population, or on human carrying capacity of a single planet the size of ours, their pitch for limitless growth goes unchallenged. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 84

Accelerating change means an expansion that is at risk of hitting real limits in a finite world. This is part of the "cross roads" we've mentioned elsewhere. Once we hit those limits, change will take on a whole different dynamic, change upon change will have a precipitous character not observed before. Rather than progress, we'll face crisis. When? To what degree crisis?



The importance to global change is in looking at how social, biological, and physical sciences all reveal data and signs for more ominous changes in the near future. This is change in every aspect of human and earthly affairs ... globally. The Window looks further to see change as a backdrop to a biblical timeline. Driving forces for change force us to ask the most important questions about our true origin, who we are, why we are here, and what the Scriptures tell us about the future. Change forces us to look deeper to face choice or crisis. Life is an opportunity to look for the answers.


Please Note! We are presenting a number of quotations in the "Signs of the Times" series that are taken from their original context. So Be Aware ... the impact of these statements is only heightened and intensified by a reading of the original text cited below. WindowView serves to reflect many original sources and in this case we highly recommend a reading of the entire book used as a source here! The 'Signs' are woefully important to revealing humanity's future, reading these quotations in their original context makes this point all the more clear!

Quotations attributed to 'Ayers' are from: Ed Ayers. 1999. God's Last Offer - Negotiating for a Sustainable Future. Published by: Four Walls Eight Windows (www.fourwallseightwindows.com)

Mr. Ayers is the Editor of World Watch magazine, a product of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C. The institute is a 'think tank' that often puts out publications that note change in the world theater from the perspectives of economics, policy, resource uses, and the potential for global trends based on past and current human activity. This is a secular institution and the title of Mr. Ayers' book makes no special reference to a particular theological framework.


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