You are here: Home » Most Important Journalist » The Book, “Abundance”, Lifts Your Optimism

The Book, “Abundance”, Lifts Your Optimism

by John on 04/08/2012

News is a downer. Watching can be gut-wrenching. But try reporting this stuff every day.

As a news anchor, you sometimes feel you’re only a syllable away from creating your own Howard Beale “I’m mad as hell” moment.

Good friend Donna Brown wrote me when the Penn State child molestation allegations broke: “I really don’t see how you do the job you do, reporting on such things that happen in the world. I feel sick.”  Most of the people in the media are too. 

The media also covers a lot of senseless killings. We seem to present them as lists of activities rather than insights into the human condition. After all, most of the violence is a result of mental health and economic issues.

In defense of the media, though, our job is to warn you. You need to know if a serial killer, a neighborhood arsonist, or a tornado is threatening you. So, when someone asks me, “Can’t you bring us any good news?”, the answer has to be no. We’re here to warn you — not baby you.

Still, the media fails you when they fall into the entertainment bias. Covering the travails of Lindsay Lohan, which is cheaper and easier, as opposed to finding causes and solutions to the suicide rate among teens or the rash of murder-suicides in families is a violation of public service.

So, the media can be a big distortion. A new book points this out. “Abundance” is written by tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.

A warning: this book is crack to optimists. The authors believe the media is dominated by pessimists, especially experts who don’t see the technological advances, or whose best interest is to keep the status quo. They write:


“For the first time in history, our capabilities have begun to catch up to our ambitions. Humanity is now entering a period of radical transformation in which technology has the potential to significantly raise the basic standards of living for every man, woman, and child on the planet. Within a generation, we will be able to provide goods and services, once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them. Or desire them. Abundance for all is actually within our grasp.”

So after reading Dana Milbank’s column on the lies of Mitt Romney about the economy and foreign policy, I retreat to “Abundance”. Diamandis and Kotler tell me that poverty in the world is at its lowest in decades and that the number of people living on a dollar a day is half of what it was in 1950.

I read Tom Friedman’s column on the real cause of the Arab Spring.

All these tensions over land, water and food are telling us something: The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies.

Folks, this is not a hoax. We and the Arabs need to figure out — and fast — more ways to partner to mitigate the environmental threats where we can and to build greater resiliency against those where we can’t. Twenty years from now, this could be all that we’re talking about.

Tom, you are such a bag of downers.  So I go back to Abundance and read about Dean Kamen, of Deka Research in New Hampshire. He has a machine called the Slingshot that can produce 250 gallons of drinkable water using the same amount of energy to run a hair dryer for less than a cent per liter.

I don’t stop reading. They tell me about Engineer Michael Pritchard whose company developed the Lifesaver bottle with a micro filter that can produce 25,000 liters of water for half-a-cent per day. Think about this: for $20 billion everyone on the planet can have access to safe drinking water. Plus, many more nanotechnology devices and filters are in the works that will work better and cheaper.

Give me more. They say that aeroponics, suspending plants in midair and delivering food to them through a nutrient-rich spray, is more efficient than hydroponics. If we did this, agricultural water use would drop to 6%.

It gets better. Vertical farms are being developed to be located on buildings in major cities. A 30-story vertical farm, in one square New York block, could grow enough food to feed 50,000 people a year. 150 vertical farms could feed everyone in New York City without pesticides or fossil fuels.

I gravitate to books like this — not just because of the feel-good optimism. These authors help frame the real conflict happening today. It’s the status quo trying to stop progress until they can control the change. We see it in the media as internet technology is blocked by cable providers and Hollywood studios. We see it in the energy industry as fossil fuel producers hold back alternative sources.

What can you do? First, read non-fiction like this. Second, stop feeding the inconsequential liberal-conservative fight. It’s only keeping us from finding real solutions.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Previous post:

Next post: