The Long Now

It’s time to consider the human project over longer timeframes.

There is a tendency to contextualise current issues in terms of the last decade, the post-Cold War world, the post-War world or the post-Industrial Revolution world. Rather than any of those time frames, I think we should consider the human project over the longest time frames for which information is available.


We are at the very beginning of time for the human race.
It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems.
But there are tens of thousands of years in the future.
Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can,
improve the solutions, and pass them on.
– Richard Feynman


The bigger picture

Humans are not peaceful star fairies. We’re a species of impetuous and hormonal primate that has crawled from the mud and pandemonium of Earth’s ecosystems to construct, without any guidance, a world-spanning civilisation.

Most of the major challenges our species face are unavoidable parts of the gig when creating a pan-planetary civilisation from scratch. How we’ll meet those challenges are questions with which we now wrestle, but the underlying mechanics of how the human race, this planet and this universe work means that there’s every reason to believe it can be done.

In fact, to set our situation in fundamental terms: the laws of nature, the geographical realities of planet Earth and the psychology of humankind have generated a state of affairs which is open-ended, utterly mysterious, unlimited and becoming more interesting with every passing century.

This universe not only allows apes to exist – it works in such a way that, once they start talking, cooperating and working things out, their world spirals upwards and ever greater dimensions of wonder and experience open up. So let’s start thinking that way.


Baker puts our lives and our world into perspective;
sayings like ‘look at the bigger picture’ and ‘life is too short’ are made into more than mantras.
[Anyone] who wakes up on a Monday morning in despair or ‘sweats the small stuff’
really could gain a lot by reading this book.
- Georgina Norton, Leeds Student


More details: the Long Now

The Long Now – an excerpt from Part 6 of the book, setting out how a basic understanding of the development of agriculture and humankind’s prehistoric colonisation of the world are crucial for understanding the context of contemporary civilisation.

Counterarguments – dealing with the two most common arguments that human civilisation is limited.

Globalisation – excerpt from Part 2 of the book (carried in The Daily Telegraph), looking at the phenomenon of globalisation in the context of political evolution.

The State of Humanity – data regarding the the relentlessly improving state of humanity.

Dating systems – why the CE/BCE dating system is better than the traditional AD/BC system


Next: Gaia and Humanity >


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