There are 700,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets estimated to be in the known universe. There could be more. That’s 700 quintillion—few can even comprehend a number so large.
Yet as far as we know, we are the only planet with life. Pause for a moment and think about that. Seven hundred quintillion planets in a universe that is at least 13.8 billion years old—the observable part being 92 billion light years across—a light year being 5.88 trillion miles.
The total universe is probably many times that large—250 times as large or 7 trillion light years across—it could be far more. This is because space expands faster than the speed of light and thus the bulk of the universe will never be available to us. What does it expand into? Who knows?
If this doesn’t make your head spin you aren’t paying attention.
Many postulate the universe just must be filled with life. I used to lean that way but not as much as I once did. Even if life is abundant—which is far from certain—due to the size of the universe and the incredible distances involved, the odds are overwhelming we are effectively alone.
This should be a sobering thought. Here we stand, the product of 3.8 billion years of the evolution of life on what is clearly a unique planet. To say what we have here is special is the greatest understatement.
And whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, we have come to be the stewards of all life on the planet—a responsibility that cannot be abdicated.
Yet look around you. In what should be a modern paradise we instead see strife, conflict, and insanity being paraded as normal. All while we witness what were once venerable institutions crumbling to ruins.
This trend cannot be allowed to continue. There have been societal collapses in the past but there has never been a society as interconnected as ours. If we allow the present unrest to continue, the pain of our failure will be biblical in scope. The entire planet, and all life on it, will pay a terrible price for our arrogance.
All of the wonders of the modern world can be traced back to a fire that was lit 600 years ago. This fire became known as the Scientific Revolution. It was driven by a profound change in how people interacted with their environment and their mindsets about themselves and the world. It transformed the world—and continues to do so.
This scientific way of thinking has discovered the fabric of reality to an astonishing degree. Yet once we leave the hard sciences, we collectively abandon its fundamental principles and revert to pre-science thinking.
At its core, this is the source of our current problems—and until we address it, we will continue our fall into the abyss.
We can no more choose our political or economic beliefs than we can choose our beliefs in physics. There is reality and we must strive to discover it, not naïvely endeavor to define it.
We mistakenly designed our governments, programs, and many institutions on a top-down hierarchical structure—a design found nowhere in the natural world. This “boss” design is by requirement predictive, i.e. someone must be able to predict and plan for some yet unfurled future.
This design is 100 percent destined to fail—especially when the system design demands tens of thousands of “predictors” who must always be correct.
Management consulting guru Peter Drucker captured it well with his quote, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.”
A far superior design—and one that drives all the living world—is built on swarm intelligence. Swarm intelligence is emergent, the solutions bubble up from the swarm itself. It’s almost magical, with no one actually looking for the solution(s), the swarm nevertheless discovers them.
Governments and other top-down institutions violate almost every thing that makes swarm intelligence work. This poor system design—and the self-engorging Leviathan it has given birth to—is the driver of the catastrophes racing towards us.
We need to allow the scientific way of thinking birthed by the Scientific Revolution to guide all areas of our lives. Will this demand a change in our thinking? Yes.
But we are the stewards of the most special of the 700 quintillion, we must have the courage to embrace reality, wherever it may lead.