The Hard Problem of Saving the World

Boy howdy, it’s been a week.

As I type this I’m watching a fantastic interview between Lex Fridman and Mark Zuckerberg. If you want a less insane version of the story of a white dude born in the early 80s who built a social media platform you should just watch that video instead of reading this article:

Hey Mark are you looking to hire a wizard?

It humanizes him in a way that makes it easier to see that the people billionaire-ship is scaffolded onto are brilliant and complicated in ways that our media doesn’t know how to highlight. That flawed media focus leaves us with blind spots, and that makes it harder to understand how the elite can influence our world and how we should react to them. Thinking “I don’t need to understand him” may feel good but harm you.

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t evil. None of the limited number of big talking faces our media throws at us so regularly in this context are evil. Facebook enables evil things though and that’s an impossibly hard challenge to solve. I think he’s trying hard to minimize harm and he’s got a big pile of blind spots around the nature of the harm he can cause because the systems he uses to make sense of the world have blind spots, just like the rest of us. He definitely needs to be doing more.

Anyway so I have a plan to save the world

It’s not a great plan and it’s not very well organized. There’s a bunch of shared challenges we all face that it doesn’t address. I wrote about a bunch of the bits of this plan previously:

This article is about a specific thing from that body of work. It’s about a way to solve one of the biggest shared challenges we all face: the Global Wildfire Crisis. Here’s a New York Times article about it:

TLDR: Lots of burning planet in the future

Wildfires are a challenging problem to solve. You need to have a lot of people in rugged environments doing dangerous things. They’re heroes. Fighting wildfires requires heroes and we don’t currently have robust, hero creating infrastructure.

The heroes we create now are often being created by systems that don’t have public trust, so the heroes coming through those systems do not feel they have public support (in part because they exist in those systems with non-heroic people.)

That being said, it seems that the system of firefighting is still producing a large number of heroic figures and many organizations seem to be seeing increased representation of diverse community members. These people do heroic things — often with limited resources. Very heroic stuff!

There is a global wildfire crisis and that’s a threat that requires more firefighting effort so we need to increase the available number of volunteers for the heroic challenge of global firefighting duties.

The Trans-Arctic Concord:

Northern and Arctic nations like Canada and Russia can take in international teams of volunteers in order to achieve required goals like serving in firefighting duties, or in the construction of ecologically sustainable infrastructure designed to handle the increasing number of global climate refugees in land that will become more important as global temperatures rise. This infrastructure can come in the form of self-contained and voluntary communities, and initial efforts to explore how to best achieve this can be started around existing remote northern communities as they often required updated infrastructure. This can be done in ways that generate reasonable levels of income to businesses, allows for a variety of innovation in existing technologies, and provide important + meaningful work for a big number of people in the efforts to combat climate change. This effort can be a ritualistic semi-permanent or permanent pilgrimage for anyone in the world.

The above paragraph is the most I’ve ever actually written about this idea but you see the need, right? I tried to imagine the most effective way to solve the problem of finding the huge number of volunteers required to fight fires in remote areas in order to protect the population of the planet, and also how to navigate the geopolitics of that in a way that could be successful.

We can be heroes.

I didn’t know how to write any more about it because the imagery and concept in this context feels very much like a Crusade and I’m not quite sure if I want to suggest a Crusade. I really like the idea of it being a pilgrimage, but I see how intense everything in culture is right now so I can’t help but think it’d get called a Crusade. I only just declared myself the unofficial Wizard of Canada so calling a Crusade to go fight wildfires seems a bit much.

This doesn’t mean there will only be wildfires to fight in northern regions but this plan made sense because it seems like firefighting in northern regions will require similar strategies, tools, and technology. Pooled resources can improve performance.

It doesn’t matter

The obvious reason this doesn’t matter is because it’s fucking crazy, and a less obvious reason is that the invasion of Ukraine has probably blocked any possibility of an international effort of volunteers to travel to Russia to fight wildfires. This isn’t anywhere near the most evident or urgent harmful impacts of the invasion of Ukraine but it’s an actual problem.

That problem isn’t going away and we probably can’t do anything about it.

Putin could show us how to save the world.

He could turn what looks like a very anxious, very uncertain military away from the capital of another nation. He could admit that every single one of those brave Russian soldiers fighting and dying for him would be happier serving their homeland by using the more traditional tools of their ancestors to protect the northern parts of the world for the good of humanity.

Thanks for reading. Hit me up if you need any wizarding done:



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Eric Lortie

Eric Lortie

Artist. Human. Software Engineer. Wizard. Nonviolent Extremist.