The Future is a place created…


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“The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created–created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.”

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Fire to be kindled


Plutarch – “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”

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Mistaken Prediction #7


When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations, sometimes at our peril. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.

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“Ours has been the first [expedition], and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality.”
~ Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.

Ives couldn’t have fathomed that more than a century later, five million people annually visit this “profitless locality,” by car, foot, air, and on the Colorado River itself.

John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran set off on a bold and pioneering expedition to fully map the Colorado as it wended its way through the Grand Canyon. The journey was a death-defying undertaking in the fragile wooden dories of the days. Less than a hundred miles into the trip, one of the expedition’s boats had already been smashed, taking with it much of their food supply. Yet, Powell and his team persevered for 99 days, putting the Grand Canyon on the map of the US for the first time.

Soon, Powell was being celebrated as a national hero. When President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903, he made the famous remark: “The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children and all who come after you.” In 1919, it would become a national Park.

Although John Wesley Powell started a cascade of interest in the the Grand Canyon, he himself was wary of development around it. He prophesied that water shortages would be a major issue if the population of the American West soared too high. Powell would soon turn out to be right. By the turn of the 20th Century, some of the world’s most colossal engineering projects were in motion to dam and divert the Colorado River to help quench the water needs of rapidly expanding Western cities.

The result is that today some 10 dams and 80 diversions have turned the Colordao into a vast plumbing works, the natural flow that John Wesley Powell witnessed now completely regulated to the point that the river’s mouth – once a vibrant wetlands at the Sea of Cortez – has run bone dry.

Before the huge Glen Canyon Dam was built in 1963, the river carried 5000, 000 tons of silt and sediment in a single day. now, 95% of those nutrient filled sediments are trapped by the dam. The river runs clear and cold, which makes it less friendly to life.  River otters, muskrats, native birds, lizards and frogs are rabidly disappearing.

Source: River at Risk

Organizations of interest:

Waterkeeper Alliance

Glen Canyon Institute – dedicated to restoring a healthy Colorado River

Mistaken Prediction #5


When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations, sometimes at our peril. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.

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“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

~ Lord Kelvin, 1895.

This was predicted by British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society Lord Kelvin only eight years before brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright took their home-built flyer to the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, cranked up the engine, and took off into the history books.

‘Nuff said.

Mistaken Prediction #3


When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations, sometimes at our peril. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.

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“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”

–New York Times, 1936.

The first rocket to leave the earth’s atmosphere  was American-built WAC, launched on March 22nd, from White Sands, NM and attained 50 miles of altitude.

“An Act to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.”

With this simple preamble, the Congress and the President of the United States created the national Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on October 1, 1958. NASA’s birth was directly related to the pressures of national defense. After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in the Cold War, a broad contest over the ideologies and allegiances of the nonaligned nations. During this period, space exploration emerged as a major area of contest and became known as the space race.

A full-scale crisis resulted on October 4, 1957 when the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite as its IGY entry. This had a “Pearl Harbor” effect on American public opinion, creating an illusion of a technological gap and provided the impetus for increased spending for aerospace endeavors, technical and scientific educational programs, and the chartering of new federal agencies to manage air and space research and development.

The United States launched its first Earth satellite on January 31, 1958, when Explorer 1 documented the existence of radiation zones encircling the Earth. Shaped by the Earth’s magnetic field, what came to be called the Van Allen Radiation Belt, these zones partially dictate the electrical charges in the atmosphere and the solar radiation that reaches Earth.

In 1957, Laika, the soviet space dog, became the first animal to orbit the Earth and, sadly, the first orbital death. On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space.

Launched on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 was crewed by Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon, while Collins orbited in the Command Module.

Mistaken Prediction #2


When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations, sometimes at our peril. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.

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“That virus [HIV] is a pussycat.”
–Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, 1988

By 2006, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization estimated that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on December 1, 1981. During 2008 more than two and a half million adults and children became infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS. By the end of the year, an estimated 33.4 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS. The year also saw two million deaths from AIDS, despite recent improvements in access to antiretroviral treatment.

The latest statistics of the global HIV and AIDS were published by UNAIDS in November 2009, and refer to the end of 2008.

Estimate Range
People living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 33.4 million 31.1-35.8 million
Adults living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 31.3 million 29.2-33.7 million
Women living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 15.7 million 14.2-17.2 million
Children living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 2.1 million 1.2-2.9 million
People newly infected with HIV in 2008 2.7 million 2.4-3.0 million
Children newly infected with HIV in 2008 0.43 million 0.24-0.61 million
AIDS deaths in 2008 2.0 million 1.7-2.4 million
Child AIDS deaths in 2008 0.28 million 0.15-0.41 million

Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans.

At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide.

In developing and transitional countries, 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 4 million (42%) are receiving the drugs.

Mistaken Prediction #1


When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.

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“It will be years –not in my time– before a woman will become Prime Minister.”

~ Margaret Thatcher, October 26th, 1969.

Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom only 10 years after saying that, holding her chair from 1979 to 1990.  At the time of writing (2009), she is, however, the only woman to have held this post.


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