A Culture of Abundance
We live in a culture of scarcity. It is so much a part of how we view the world that we never even notice it. It is so pervasive that it colors every aspect of our lives. In fact, its opposite, a culture of abundance, seems impossibly naÔve.
We intelligent creatures of this planet certainly understand that we can choose our outlook. To view the glass as half full rather than half empty is our choice. But then, what follows?
Focusing on scarcity, we place a great deal of importance on the notion of private property. ďThou shalt not stealĒ ranks high among the commandments, and our legal system focuses on protecting what is mine from encroachment by others. ďOf course,Ē we say, ďitís in the nature of civilization. Why else did our ancestors join together into fortified towns as a defense against marauders?Ē Even in the spiritual realm, envy and covetousness are considered seriously sinful qualities.
Native American cultures regard as absurd the notion that anyone can own a part of Earth, our sacred mother. The gifts from the Great Spirit must be shared by all. What a difference such a notion would have made for our polluted environment. Instead, we have understood the fruits of the Earth as belonging to the buyers or conquerors, to be exploited at will, and at the same time using our air and rivers as a common cesspool.
The culture of scarcity is based on the notion of a zero-sum game, that there is a fixed amount of resources, so that if I gain some, someone must lose that same amount. Again, it seems so obvious. If you sell me an acre of land, what I gain, you lose.
Yet, there are so many aspects of life that work differently. Suppose I write a poem. To me it is beautiful. It did not exist for me before I was inspired by the muse. I have gained in appreciation of beauty, and I have gained some joyful gratitude. Now I share that poem with you. You have gained something and I have lost nothing. In fact I have gained some of the good feeling that comes from giving rather than receiving. Beauty is clearly not a zero-sum game. Neither is love, compassion, serenity, or joy, the four transcendent qualities of Tibetan Buddhism.
We need to change our outlook. Letís focus on abundance. Letís stop thinking zero-sum. Remember the loaves and fishes? There is no food. We share, and there is abundance. Remember the lilies of the field? Your heavenly Father will provide. Happiness comes from sharing, not from accumulating. And letís share also with Gaia, mother Earth. She certainly shares with us.
It sounds utopian, and it is. Is it real? Are we really going there? Teilhard would think so. It would require widespread higher consciousness. Is that really coming? Yes indeed, itís already beginning, little pockets of quiet enlightenment, here, there, and everywhere.
Now, back to reality. The resources of our planet are scarce, not abundant. Population is growing, relentlessly stressing resources. Environmental degradation has already passed the critical point. Climate change is upon us. To speak of abundance seems cruel irony.
Letís become hypothetical for a moment. Letís pretend. Suppose there were a source of unlimited energy available to us, one that does not involve burning anything and produces no pollution. It could be captured through a small inexpensive unit with no moving parts, a unit which would never wear out. Then utopia would be possible. Then it would be easy to share and not accumulate. We would enter into a culture of abundance.
Actually, there is such a source of energy, waiting to be used. It is variously referred to as zero-point energy, or the quantum void. The quantum mechanical description of the universe includes some aspects which are counter-intuitive, but which have been convincingly confirmed by experiment. One result is that even at the lowest possible temperature, when classically one would expect no energy at all, there is still a zero-point energy. This energy is embedded in space itself, and is so abundant that the amount in a one-inch cube of space could supply all the energy needed to run the entire planet for about fifteen days.
An underlying principle of physics, both classical and modern, is the first law of thermodynamics, which rules out perpetual motion, producing power without some form of fuel. Recognition of the existence of zero-point energy opens the possibility of energy conversions which might appear to disobey the first law, and over the last hundred years or so, a number of inventors (admittedly without the theoretical background) have created devices which produce useable energy with little or no energy input.
One example is the car that runs on water, developed by Stanley Meyer in 1998. His fully operational dune buggy achieved an efficiency of 100 miles per gallon of water (not gasoline), with no other input of fuel, electric power, or anything else. If that seems impossible, check out the videos and other information at http://waterpoweredcar.com/stanmeyer.html
How does it work? Electrolysis of water is a well-known and straightforward process familiar to students of high school or beginning college chemistry. A pair of metal electrodes are placed in a container of water and connected to a source of direct current like a battery. Water is a poor conductor of electricity, so the circuit is closed not by passage of electrons but by chemical reactions at the electrodes and by transport of ions through the water. The reaction produces hydrogen gas, a fuel which can react with oxygen from the air in a fuel cell to power a motor.
Conventional electrolysis, however, requires more power input than it produces as output. Not a promising source of energy! Stanley Meyerís invention was to do the electrolysis not with direct current, but with pulsed electric discharges. Once the process was started with a small battery, it required no further input. The only product is water vaporóno pollution, no greenhouse gas.
The Stanley Meyer technology is only one example among many, including inventions by Nicola Tesla [Serbian inventor, 1856-1943] going back to the early 1900s. These technologies, so essential for a complete solution to our energy and pollution problems, would also bring about a radical restructuring of our economy. We would not need energy companies and all the associated infrastructure. Abundant energy would allow desalination of water to let the deserts bloom, and we could recover minerals from the oceans and neutralize radioactive wastesóand other benefits not yet imaginable. Still, the changes would affect short-term corporate interests. Special interests have bought out and shelved such inventions, and patents have been denied because of national security restrictions. The time has come to shake these technologies loose from their captivity. The first step is disclosure, and we can all help by spreading the word.
Some day these new energy sources will overcome the machinations of special interests and become available to all of us. Then we can have a true culture of abundance. Meanwhile, letís keep a hopeful eye on the future.