Directly after the World Economic Forum, @tomfriedman described his upcoming book “Thank you for being late” in conversation with Johan Rockström at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
[05:45] I was deeply influenced a year and a half ago by a book I read called The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andy McAfee. What they argued was that the first machine age was built on the steam engine which doubled in power every seventy years. But we’re now in the second machine age. And the second machine age is built on the microchip which, according to Moore’s Law, doubles in power every 24 months.
[7:10] So what I told them was, you guys, I love your theory, but it’s incomplete as an explanation of the world, because there are two other forces that just entered the second half there of their chessboard at the same time. They are the other two largest forces on the planet.
[7:26] One is the market — that’s my shorthand for globalization — and the other is mother nature — that’s climate and biodiversity loss.
[17:08] I have three chapters that are interrelated. The first is about mother nature as mentors and model, which comes out out of biomimicry. I believe that what we’ve created with our hands now is a system of systems, a network of networks and network of data telecommunications that is more interconnected — hyper-connected — interdependent and complex that it mirrors only one other thing in our experience. And that’s the natural world.
[41:08] So we actually started the story about Egypt, in Salina, Kansas, in the heart of the wheat belt in America. I did an interview with Wes Jackson, who is an amazing bioscientist trying to develop a perennial form — a sustainable form — of wheat. And he was explaining to me the prairie. And said, Tom, you need to understand that the prairie was a natural permaculture. It was a system that naturally fertilized and pollinated and created its own natural pesticide. What we did is when we came out here — the white Europeans — we plowed up the prairie and we’ve planted monoculture crops: wheat, corn and sorghum. And to be sustained they needed massive amounts of high-density fossil fuels in the form of tractors, pesticides and fertilizers. When the dust bowl happened, all the monoculture crops died. And all of the prairie survived — the main parts of the prairie — because they’re naturally polycultural resilient, a healthy and good dependent system.
[42:22] And when he said that, I said that’s really interesting, what do think Al Qaeda is doing? Al Qaeda, in the Middle East, is trying to wipe out the polyculture of the Islamic world. And the Islamic world was at its most economic and greatest political power, when? When, Moorish Spain, between the 8th and 13th century, when it was the world’s greatest culture of good, ideas and trade. They’re trying to wipe out Islamist as polyculture and instead — and by the way they’re leveraging high-density fossil fuels from oil states — to wipe out the culture of the Muslim world and replace it with a monoculture that’s enormously susceptible to diseased ideas.
“A conversation with Thomas Friedman” | January 2016 | Stockholm Resilience Center Slow Talk at http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/research-news/1-28-2016-a-conversation-with-thomas-friedman.html