In 1983, British author and futurist Peter Russell published a book entitled The Global Brain, coining a term with the title that Wikipedia defines as "a metaphor for the worldwide intelligent network formed by people together with the information and communication technologies that connect them into an 'organic' whole."
One easy way of seeing the impacts of this "global brain" is Russell's "World Clock," which tells much more than the time.
It counts the increases in the various stressors on the planet, such as human births, species going extinct, hectares of forests cut down, barrels of oil pumped and military expenditure.
It also counts human deaths and their various causes, such cardiovascular disease, AIDS, cancer, diabetes, suicide, war and violence.
Thanks to Russell's clock, we are able to know that the following happened in the past ten minutes:
- 2,458 babies were born
- 238 hectares of forests were cut down
- 110 hectares of land has turned into desert
- 555,041 barrels of oil were pumped
- 503,833 tons of CO2 were emitted
- $22,058,749 was spent on the military
"It is, at its root, a crisis of consciousness. A crisis is an indication that the old mode of operating is no longer working, and a new approach is required. This is true of a personal crisis, a family crisis or a political crisis. In the case of the environmental the old way that is no longer working is our self-centred materialistic consciousness. It may have worked well in the past, when we needed to provide ourselves with the basic commodities necessary for our individual well-being -- but it clearly no longer works today."
No species went extinct during our 10-minute observation of the World Clock. For that, you'd have to wait at least 12 minutes.
- Monitor the growing devastation with Peter Russell's World Clock
- Feel some optimism with Peter Russell's book The Global Brain
- Sign the "We Can Solve It" petition for a global treaty on climate change
- Support the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Countdown 2010 to save the world's biodiversity
- Join the Greenpeace "Energy [R]evolution"
- Analyze and reduce your impact on the environment with the National Grid Floe
- Protect an acre of rainforest through Conservation International
- Take these seven steps to help save the Amazon rainforest
- Bye Bye Biodiversity (October 15, 2009)
- A.H. (After Human) (October 8, 2009)
- Four Degrees (September 29, 2009)
- The Arctic Has a Hotseat, and Man Is Behind the Wheel (September 17, 2009)
- The Pot Is Boiling (July 2, 2009)
- Happy Markets, Happy Forests (April 27, 2008)
- Plight of the Penan (September 14, 2009)
- Lost World (September 9, 2009)
- The Trees of the Maya (July 29, 2009)
- Trade Carbon, Save Orangutans (June 8, 2009)
- Hey You, Get Off of My Cloud (May 30, 2009)
- Blowing Noses Into Dead, Ancient Trees (February 29, 2009)
- Dismembering the Earth's Heart and Lungs (January 25, 2009)