08 June 2017

Dune and Climate Reality

In light of the recent political event, where Trump decided to pull out of the Paris agreement, I decided to talk about the environment. 
But instead of bragging how my electric car feels like driving a spaceship, the more appropriate subject would be one of the Science Fiction books that influenced me, Dune by F. Herbert.
I read those books as a teenager first time, not really grasping the complexity of the described world. And I reread those books countless times, all 6 of them. Each time the books made me think about us, about our society, about our planet, and about our future.
Intricate world Herbert created in his work can serve as a treasure trove of allegories about our own world. For this particular purpose, climate, I will mention the ecological difference between 3 most important planets in the first book, Arrakis, Caladan, and Giedi Prime.
All planets reflect the complexity of the Dune universe, and in a way serve as a characterization of the rulers and populations. Giedi Prime is a pollution ridden planet, heavily industrialized, marred by an oppressive government. On the other hand, Caladan seems like a paradise, marvelous planet where rulers make sure that the system is balanced and all resources smartly accessed, including the population itself. Arrakis is harsh due to the ecological system that provides one of the most important resources in Dune’s universe. And Arrakis ends up as a center stage of the books plots. According to Herbert himself, that’s because he drew a parallel between oil today and spice in Dune universe.
The most impressive for me is the longevity and complexity of the plans characters execute. Their governments do not plan for election cycle only, or for quarterly reports. Nope, they plan over decades. Something that is quite rare in our society today. The most successful plans from the books were ones that spanned thousands of years (God Emperor of Dune). I’m mentioning the longevity of the planning because that is exactly what we’re missing in the fight against global warming. To combat global warming we now have to make a sacrifice for the future many of us will never see. And that is something against human nature. Science did establish that only around 38% of us is capable of planning for the distant future and actually capable of making sacrifices today for the benefit of future selves. Meaning that 62% of us mainly prefer living in a moment.
The problem is we desperately need long-term planning. In essence, we, as humans have to learn to plan long term. That number 62, has to reduce itself. Otherwise, we, humans, will not have a future. But hey, we stopped sleeping in trees and leaving fecal matter in the open. So winning over ‘human nature’ is not impossible to accomplish. The catch is we need to have the collective will to do so.
When I realized the seriousness of our climate reality, I made sure to do something and reduce my own carbon footprint. And my motivation was simple, I wished to stay true to myself. I wished to do exactly as I thought about myself, a good person who makes sure to contribute to the betterment of the community and tries her best not to damage someone else through actions or inactions.
In the end, I would recommend you to read those original 6 books written by Frank Herbert and think about the parallels with our society. Reflect on the importance of long-term planning and human morality. Maybe you will, too, find within yourself an importance to be true to how you see yourself, a good person.

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