Jonathan Hait introduced the five foundations of morality, see Ethics Defined.

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness/Reciprocity
  • Authority/Respect
  • In-group/Loyalty
  • Purity/Sanctity

He claims that successful civilizations have used all five, and that Liberal morality is insufficient for our civilization because Liberals value only the first two.

  In his TED talk Jonathan Haidt points out that one thing in common with every successful civilization through history is that all five tenants of morality as he defines them have been present.  These successful civilizations seem “to use every tool in the tool box”.

I see Liberal Morality changing to meet the realities of the Anthropocene Era. In particular I think we are beginning to define Loyalty as Loyalty to the human species and Disloyalty as placing the short term advancement of an In-group, such as the 1%, over survival of humanity in the long term. I also embrace a secular Sanctity, "Is it green?" "Does this destroy the planet for future generations?"

Purity/Sanctity is rooted in the emotion of disgust, tied to evolved responses to avoid disease contagion. It's disgusting the way Climate Destabilization is changing our fresh water supply and the oceans.

Harmful cyanobacteria benefit from global warming

Professor Hans Paerl of the University of North Carolina (USA) and professor Jef Huisman of the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) conclude on the basis of several recent studies that the worldwide proliferation of harmful cyanobacterial blooms is linked to climate change.

Just touching water with toxic cyanobcteria is dangerous as the poisons penetrate skin. Toxins also spread through the air near contaminated lakes and ponds.

I was impressed by the story of a man whose dog ran into a contaminated lake. Taking the dog home, he washed him immediately. The dog died and the man was hospitalized from absorbing the poison through the skin while he washed his dog.

In the same way I'm disgusted by fracking, where companies inject poisons directly into the water table to extract natural gas. Nobody should have tap water that burns.

I'm also disgusted when I see tour buses and tractor trailers running their motors for hours, parked in lots, in order to heat or cool the interior. Designing such dependence and purchasing vehicles with this design flaw aren't just unwise. It's revolting. It's not just the plumes of exhaust which billow out surrounding large immobile "dirty" vehicles, in terms of fuel efficiency and pollutants emitted. It's the obvious carbon footprint that accompanies those noxious fumes. The operators are forced to kill future generations and pollute their immediate surroundings just to avoid freezing or baking to death.

Why aren't we articulating and promoting secular versions of loyalty and sanctity?

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Counting war "productivity" dollar for dollar the same as raising sheep is one of the glaring flaws of current growth-based economic theory.

It's true that the poverty trap pressures the poor in developing countries to have large families, but that is part of the problem. China managed to limit their explosive population under similar circumstances. If the global population realized that it's essential to curb overpopulation for civilization to survive, don't you think we could do it too? A global effort would be required, and the developed countries would have to pay for that infrastructure.

The alternative is that population crashes from starvation, disease and violent conflict. If that happens, we lose control of all the chemical plants and nuclear facilities when the power goes off. Earth won't revert to a relatively benign environment capable of supporting perhaps one billion survivors of the seven or eight billion. Swathed in radiation by land, air and ocean, and in numerous chemical releases similar to Bophal, what will be left of Earth would be a hostile planet. That's the alternative to voluntarily limiting our population is some fair way. It's physically impossible for population to keep expanding on a finite planet. The curve comes down either under our control or out of our control.

We have created a fragile environment, whose safety depends upon continual skilled maintenance. People don't realize that chemical plants keep dangerous substances under control right near population centers. I live a couple of miles from from a Rohm and Haas plant, a subsidiary of DOW. A day or so after backup generator failure there my house would be in the middle of an uninhabitable toxic zone. Not to mention the nuclear power plants east and south of here.

I agree overpopulation has dire consequences, personally, culturally, politically and economically. That is why those who see having many children as a blessing, when in fact it will result in the dire consequences you list, requires challenging that impulse.

Those who want to pollute water, soils and air, those who expect to have free or low cost labor, those who deny global warming , and those who perceive food production with chemicals and fail to understand the consequences of such actions, will face consequences of nature. 

All these reasons are why the poor, wage workers, young, old, and infirm need advocacy and support. 

I think we already have the cultural tools to facilitate such negotiation between competing groups, we just choose not to imagine applying them. For example, if we invested in an information system to track every person on Earth and their choices, people could elect to pool their reproductive rights with others who share their values. Then after the sustainable number of potential births is calculated, that number is divided proportionally among the voluntary groups. So for example, people who don't believe in birth control could find some other effective means to comply with their limits, such as segregation of the sexes or chastity belts. LOL The point is that rich people in the developed world wouldn't have an advantage, they'd compete on a level playing field with the less advantaged.

That is a new idea! It could work! Well ... maybe not the chastity belts. 

@Jay wrote, "You cannot, by definition, effectively model a strange attractor."


That is the point. according to chaos theory, small changes can make big differences over time. Therefore, such small things as, "high efficiency car, walking more, recycling" are not trivia, they are part of the whole. Small change can make a difference. Asking poor farming people to stop having kids guarantees hunger in old age. Price food commodities at a price that takes them out of poverty and take away the speculators and middle people who jack food prices beyond poor people's means. That would be as hard as asking farmers and poor not to have children. 

When I was interviewing women in China, I talked to them about the one woman-one child policy and they agreed the present times require such extreme measures. Sadly, the one child rule meant one son and abort the rest rule, with the long term effect of not having enough women for men. 

Dowry pours cold water on Chinese men's hopes

Fractal, The Lorenz Effect, or Butterfly effect. 

The Lorenz attractor is an example of a strange attractor. Strange attractors are unique from other phase-space attractors in that one does not know exactly where on the attractor the system will be. Two points on the attractor that are near each other at one time will be arbitrarily far apart at later times. The only restriction is that the state of system remain on the attractor. Strange attractors are also unique in that they never close on themselves — the motion of the system never repeats (non-periodic). The motion we are describing on these strange attractors is what we mean by chaotic behavior.

Oh...    :-/

Sometimes phenomena that at first appear predictable upon close inspection turn out to be fractal. The orbits of planets around our sun never actually repeat exactly if you look closely. It's a many body system with interacting gravity wells all working on one another.

Your link went to "this article is no longer available", Joan.

I'm especially fond of this image of the Lorenz attractor by Jerry Ylilammi.

This Lorenz Attractor is splendid!  Just perfect! Thanks for the lead Ruth. 

Sorry about the link to Chinese shortage of women no longer available. You might try these:  

The first one is 2012; the second is 2010

Dowry pours cold water on Chinese men's hopes, 2012

China's looming woman shortage: 5 possible consequences, 2010

Thanks, those links both work. It's an interesting development.

This is a great discussion! I'm learning a lot here and enjoying the replies.
Ruth Anthony-Gardner: "For example, if we invested in an information system to track every person on Earth and their choices, "

Freedom? Privacy? Are you really suggesting this kind of dystopian world? Having spent years trying to defend freedom I am astonished this is something that would seriously be put forward. It makes Mao look like a liberal.

I think you entirely overlook millions of years of mammalian evolution. You will get some people to buy into such a scheme but they will always be outliers. People sacrifice money, careers, freedom to have children, not because of a rational payoff. People with conception problems will spend fortunes to become pregnant even though there are plenty of adoptable children around. Many successful women (especially) will drop out of careers temporarily or permanently to raise a family. This is no accident, no cultural fad. This is something hard wired into the mammalian brain (yes, far older than primates).

People (mostly) will NOT be content to pool reproductive opportunities with someone who 'shares there values' (but not their genes). This will not happen without the most profoundly authoritarian government imaginable.

So I take it that you equate the "right" to have an unlimited number of children with personal freedom, Jay? Don't you view the planet as a commons? You're in the same basket on this issue as Quiverfull and fundamentalists of all stripes?

What we view as freedom varies according to the social contract we value. At one time people who lived on the second floor of a London building had the right to pour human waste out of the window on to the street. I'm sure some of them objected to having their freedom restricted when mandatory sewers were installed. If we don't restrict our population, if we don't override our instincts based on "millions of years of mammalian evolution", evolution will , by starvation, disease, and conflict. For millions of years those forces, plus predation, were responsible for limiting human population. We either take responsibility ourselves or allow a "natural" dieback.

By taking responsibility out of "the hands" of evolution, we would actually empower ourselves in a new way. For example, each individual could choose a group which shared his or her priorities in granting birth rights. What is your vision for the next generation? Would you prefer healthy children over children born with genetic diseases? Should carriers of genetic disease be required to use genetic screening to only bring children to term who had a chance at a healthy life? Should the intelligence of parents count? Should their behavior count, such as criminal records or carbon footprint? Should serial killers get the same priority as those who positively contribute to their communities? Each group would freely set their own priorities, their own selective pressures. Eventually the descendents would reflect those choices, just as Ashkenazi Jews today have a higher average IQ than other ethnic groups. Human evolution would diversify in response to differences in values. Everyone would have a new power, exercised by their participation in one or another group, to shape humanity's future. Individuals would no longer be limited to choosing to reproduce or not, to marry this person or that one. Simply by coordinating our reproductive choices we'd construct a collective tool that didn't previously exist, a "vote" for the traits of our descendents.

I don't see voluntary collective population limits as a loss of freedom but as an exchange of one kind of freedom for another. Sewer systems gave urban populations freedom from filth and some disease while it took away freedom to dump your poop on your neighbors. Collective "smart" birth control could give future generations not only a change to survive but to excel in new ways.

Introduction of legalized abortion was followed about 18 years later with a reduction in crime. A rainbow of constructive choices for future generations could also improve lives in such a short span. We're not just talking quantity of human beings but new visions of quality human beings.


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