What’s on Topic for Planet3.0

This article is intended to define what a positive contribution to Planet3.0, whether as a comment, a link, or an article.

We are discussing sustainability in the large, that is, the possibility that the Earth, including both human civilization and rich ecosystems, will sustain for a very long time into the future. There is a story that there used to be someone who spoke in tribal councils for the seventh generation. As our powers have grown, our future has become shallower rather than deeper. Indeed, as our powers grow, the future becomes harder to predict, but also, our influence grows; we affect more future generations than our predecessors have. Surely our responsibilities go deeper into time as a consequence.

Sustainability means avoiding, to whatever extent possible, foreclosing on the options available to future generations, beyond the seventh generation or even the seventieth. It does not appear that we are doing a good job of this.

The tradition we come from is the climate science tradition. While there is more to sustainability than climate, surely a stable climate is a prerequisite to a sustainable future.

We hope not to go round endlessly in circles playing lobster chess. We wish to proceed from a fairly robust interpretation of the climate science consensus. We believe that there is a real, robust and justifiable consensus among those most informed that:

  1. Climate change is real.
  2. It’s caused by us.
  3. There are substantial risks.
  4. The longer we delay the worse the risks get.
  5. Proven fuel reserves cannot be entirely burned and the CO2 released into the atmosphere and/or ocean without unreasonable risk.
  6. There are solutions.
  7. There are interesting implications for how we think, how we live, and how we govern ourselves.

We hold these points to be demonstrated.

While they are not proven with mathematical certainty, they are clear enough to some of us that we would like to stop kicking the points around and move on to their implications.

If you don’t agree, you are free to participate here, but you have an extra burden of being interesting. In general, we will prefer interesting and informed contributions to dull or uninformed contributions. But if you challenge what we already take as proven, you are basically trying to take us back through ground we consider already covered. That is, you are trying to start a conversation that does not interest us.

For the present we will not exert a blanket suppression on such points, but please note that we discourage conversation on these points here except on the Open Threads.

This is not because we are interested in suppressing free speech. Rather we are interested in promoting free speech and intelligent thought among those who already agree with us.

On topic, then, are various aspects of:

  • meteorology, oceanography and glaciology
  • geochemistry
  • ecology
  • agronomy and soil science
  • civil engineering and urban planning
  • mechanical and other manufacturing engineering
  • energy and energy systems
  • transport and shipping
  • governance and politics of the environment
  • communications theory and the press
  • open science and science communication
  • community building and activism
  • sustainable economics
  • futurism

We’re especially interested in thoughtful discipline-straddling. Coming from a scientific background, we value and practice real skepticism. This is not a place where solidarity of purpose will prevent your claims from being challenged. Indeed, we are looking for contributions that challenge us, in the interests of redeveloping the lost art of constructive debate. The purpose of constructive debate is intellectual progress, not having an outlet for verbal aggression. Nowadays verbal aggression appears to dominate, which calls the whole project of democratic self-government into question.

Finally, our perspective is explicitly global. We do not assume any particular citizenship or geography of our readers or writers, and especially welcome perspectives from cultures not usually represented in these discussions.

If we succeed, we may build a community that can manage to add additional points to our consensus and that can contribute to the world’s progress toward an attractive and inspiring future.



  1. Hello and thank you for such a well thought out and interesting context for contributions.

    I've noticed over the years that many people do not understand the reason that some First Nations People use the phrase "The Seven Generations." I'd like to offer an interpretation that was gifted to me by an teacher of indigenous wisdom, which might help to clarify how people can think about the impact of our thinking and actions on the Seven Generations.

    Among some First Nations Peoples it was noticed by those who were inclined to notice such things, that someone blessed with a long life would come to know seven generations:

    • Great-grandparents
    • Grandparents
    • Parents
    • Siblings
    • Children
    • Grandchildren
    • Great-grandchildren

    It was noticed that regardless of the time described in their stories (history) there were always Seven Generations Alive and Walking Through Time. Seven Generations who are responsible for the creation of The Stories That Are The People.

    It was noticed that a person blessed with a long life would actually move through each of these generational stages - entering the circle as a great-grandchild would come around to be completed as the experience of being a great-grandparent before exiting it to become an ancestor - and by the way ancestors and the unborn were also included in tribal decision making processes.

    As a result of this noticing, a core tenant and competency of life in the indigenous world was that any decision which might impact the lives of The People would be looked at and considered from the perspectives of each of the Seven Generations Who Walk Through Time - the very old, the very young, those in the middle, those who had passed from this world, those who were waiting to come in, and of the world itself - for the world is infused with the energy of aliveness.

    You can read the complete post on this here:


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