Civilization as Anti-Entropy
Walking around my place today I noticed something new, a dark spot on one brick wall. My thoughts went to what happens with buildings unmaintained, and what my place would look like in 20, 30, 50 100 years if no one maintained it. I suppose that wall would be in some state of crumbling, perhaps the entire building. Now my little house (casita, here in central Mexico) is made mostly of stone, so it’s long term prospects are different from hollow-wall homes in the USA. Unmaintained in 100 years, those would so likely be in bad shape. Here, the stone construction has allowed many structures to last – though those without SOME maintenance are, indeed, crumbling.
And my thoughts went to entropy. Crumbling is exactly that – entropy. Gravity erosion, dissolving. At least two of those three are at work, trying to disembody my casita. Literally to disassemble it.
Leave it to nature and all things human-made will some day resolve and dissolve and erode and collapse, in a shambles. Is that too harsh of an accusation put to Mother Nature? I am sure the naturist and naturalists among us would call it harsh.
I am not so sure about that, myself.
Everything in the known universe is slowing down, we are told – coming to a slow grinding stop. Everything is supposed to go to the “lowest potential” – meaning the lowest potential energy level. High things flow down low, from high potential energy to low potential energy. Electrons try to flow to their lowest potential atomic shell, in whatever atom they need to move to, to get to that state. Mountains erode down to flat. Ocean waves crash shores, beating continents into sand or gravel or both, able to be carried by water down, down, down… Planets slow down, fall into their suns, along with their moons and whatever comets and meteors – all are doomed, as are their suns, to burn out and sit dead in space.
We are told that the destiny of all are to be dead in space.
But here on Earth, we have an amazing thing going on. We have humans. We have minds, and we have hands, applied to tools, and tools applied to materials. And from these minds and hands and tools we COUNTER entropy. We build things that entropy has to FIGHT to get it down to the level it was before those dastardly humans got their heinous hands on the material of nature. Iron ore was perfectly at rest, down underground, before we humans determined that that iron ore could be useful to build UP, not down, to FIGHT entropy, to make things the opposite of entropic. Copper ore, petroleum, uranium, bauxite, quartz sands, we dig them out of their repose, to LIFT their potential – to make buildings, wires, plastics, vehicles, home appliances and electronics, and all of it resists the HELL out of entropy.
When we look at our infrastructure and see that it needs maintaining and upgrading it – from 60 mph train systems to 200 mph systems, from 19th century sewage systems needing replacements, from buried and string copper cables to light cables, from gridded streets to freeways, from horses and buggies to internal combustion cars to electric cars (without drivers!) – an and on, fighting entropy every inch of the way.
Our little shell of existence on this moderately sized iron-core ball is only a few feet thick below and a few miles up, a zone only livable within perhaps 6 miles vertically. And yet, THIS is the zone – the ONLY zone – that battles entropy, that battles “dead in space”.
I think of how much different our cities are than in my childhood as a baby Boomer. So many of us, and so necessary to “improve” things. We grew in a time of “planned obsolescence” and we scream at a world that would actually work WITH the realities of entropy instead of making more durable, entropy-resisting prducts for us to utilize. “Utilize” – a nasty word to Malthusian people who think the future is dommed to be a dystopia. But look at all their dystopian futures – look at them and what do we see on the silver screen (the screens that aren’t silver anymore, but IMAX (or what is in our specialized goggles/glasses for the 3D effects), or LED/LCD/plasma video screens/monitors)? Post-apocalyptic worlds where entropy is in full effect again. They see humans themselves in entropy, devolved into something below dog-eat-dog. Even dogs aren’t as animal as the Malthusians see humans.
Well, you know what? Entropy SUCKS. Our anti-entropy world of 2016 is a helluva a lot better than the world of 1956, when perhaps 15-20% of Americans still used privies – shitting in holes in the ground and not controlling the bacteria that would do us harm nearly as well as now.
Living Long(er) and Prospering
We live longer lives now. Did you know that? Probably, but did you ever look up any numbers on it? It’s AMAZING how much longer we live. Not just a little bit. Just since the 1950s the life expectancies in every country in the world has increased by 15% or more, and since 1800 – the end of the pre-Industrial world (the pre-anti-entropy world) – the numbers are STAGGERING. In 1800 not ONE country in the world had a life expectancy over 40. There are now 62 countries with life expectancies 75 or above. None are below 45. 16 countries are now above 80. Even entropy within our individual bodies is, on average, being defeated – at least being resisted (we are all still going to die, someday, it seems!). Our bodies are the ultimate, personalized, infrastructures. And the last twice as long and more. Not as an inert, bed-ridden extra 40 years, either. THAT would be entropy winning the battle.
So, here we are, in our VERY, VERY tiny, thin, exposed shell of life, shell of anti-entropy, and in all the universe the only place where entropy is being retarded in its “dead in space” destiny.
Is that a good thing? The movies that show us what life will be like when humans are gone – those are all brain-dead. The entropy in their brains says that humans’ creations are abominations. YES. Against entropy. Against organizing the materials in the universe into something other than just live X number of years and then be dead in space.
I think that mentality is brain dead already. If they want rats and hyenas and bacteria and ants and viruses to rule a world without fighting entropy, they are already dead.
What Did God Really Say to Adam?
I am not really religious. I could have been, but life cured me. But let’s go there for a moment; I know enough to actually have asked this question. I think that perhaps when God supposedly told Adam “Go forth and multiply”, maybe he didn’t mean “make a lot of babies”. All the animals were pretty good at that, so it doesn’t makes sense that God needed to tell Adam where to put his penis in Eve, nor how to climax, nor how to be more fecund/fertile. Maybe by “and multiply” he meant Adam and his kids to learn some math (lol). Maybe he meant to multiply our capacities, to become MORE than simple naked animals, that eat or are eaten. Maybe God wanted Adams’ progeny to make something of this virgin world and not to just sit there as food for predators (whether the real kind or the movie kind as in Mad Max).
The Parable of the Talents/Mina supports this POV on this, in terms of the people who read the Bible would perhaps accept.
[NAB] “Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina [talent], which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?
Hahaha – Even Jesus was telling them that entropy (putting the money in the ground) was NOT the right way to go. And this term “talents” here always suggested what WE NOW call talents – skill sets. Increase your skills! Jesus may have been screaming at them. Multiply THOSE! Don’t just make babies like goats do!
The Future And Anti-Entropy
There is a YUUUGE universe out there, and a much smaller but still YUUUGE world here, to organize and develop against entropy. We have developed it SO much in that time since no country had a life expectancy over 40, in the time when humans have taken the world by the balls and MADE something, made a better life, and a longer life, for its people – through our use of our hands and our brains and our tools and our efforts.
But we’ve only been really able to succeed against entropy for those 216 or so years. Prior to that, entropy was winning. I think winning over entropy is a good thing. This world we live in is amazing, and we’ve only been out of the “Entropy-Is-Winning” mode for around 200 years. What can we accomplish in another 200 years? Or another 1,000 years?
Being Dumb Is Letting Entropy Win
I happen to think us living longer is a good thing. Despite the stupidifying of America, the rest of the world is getting SMARTER. Which implies that America is getting left behind. The Trumpism now and the Bushism of the recent past are anomalies in the skirmish with entropy. Stupidity is laziness of the brain. I’ve seen it often, in my years in school – kids too lazy to study or do homework, and so they enter an adult world unprepared and have to take shit jobs and have little prosperity in their futures. They want people to HAND them jobs, even though they’ve done nothing to improve their skill sets. The end of the time of jobs for brainless people is fast approaching. Those with limited job skills will have much worse futures than their parent’s generation had. The job market is as anti-entropy as anything imaginable: “Have a valued skill set or suffer.” That is where we are, folks. And anyone who argues that having skills is a bad thing must be a freaking Republican royalist who wants us all to be dumb plantation workers.
Education is the biggest anti-entropy element on the planet. Making effort is anti-entropy. LEARNING is anti-entropy. It is as if God told Adam, LEARN and IMPROVE YOURSELF! In this POV, God apparently was anti-entropy. Whether God was beseeching humans to fight entropy or make babies, some would argue, but I think we ARE where we are. And we ARE doing a fundamentally decent job of organizing a world that is shifting the balance from entropy-wins to humans-win. Anti-entropy is here to stay.
And where does it go from here? Do we anti-entropy the entire planet? The Solar System? The universe? 216 years in, it is a little early to say, isn’t it? I think we have a toe-hold. Beyond that? Well, we aren’t moving backward.
LFTRS Are Coming
There is a single tool that is going to accelerate the anti-entropy flow of things. Most of you don’t know about it, but it’s coming. It is called the Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactor (LFTR). It will make our energy situation more secure and give it an almost unlimited upside. It will enable us to transform EVERYTHING. Within 30 years fossil fuels will be well on the way toward being used for only chemical and plastics uses, and for jet engines. Electricity will be available beyond knowing what to do with it all. We have several BILLION years of thorium, and the LFTR reactors will increase our progress, to a degree I can only guess at. Ten-fold? 100-fold? 1,000-fold?
There is a lot of future out there, and we are going to have the best tool EVER. The one that tells us we don’t have to worry about energy ever again. With it, entropy will in out corner of the world be on its back heels. The Mad Maxes and jungle vines and ants are not going to win, not in the near future, anyway.