Fundamental Planetary Values

Sid Liebes (
Thu, 29 Jun 1995 21:19:25 GMT

This note is to request your help regarding a thought for an
environmental initiative.

I am a 65-yr-old physicist who has conducted fundamental research
regarding the electron and gravitation, engaged in research in
automation and computer vision, participated as a project scientist
on the 1974 Mars Viking Lander mission searching for life on that
planet, and engaged in numerous successful environmental campaigns.

It seems to me that much of what most of us find troublesome about
human conduct toward the planet and toward one another relates to our
paradigms. Most people are not aware of our own personal
philosophies, especially if they are characteristic of those held by
the larger society in which we live. Our paradigms, tend to be taken
for granted by us and/or invisible to us. This note relates to
elevating our paradigms to a level of consciousness where we can
discuss them, and move toward a higher level of achievement of human

I would like to express an eco view, and invite your criticism of it.
It seems to me that the general public has an inadequate temporal and
spatial perspective regarding man's place in the scheme of things, and
insufficient appreciation of fundamentally important facts that
scientists can help to communicate. It further seems to me that
benefit would accrue from broad societal proposal, debate, and quest
for consensus on a commonly shared set of fundamental values.

If consensus can be achieved on a core set of facts and values, values
that will inevitably evolve over time, then the values should serve
the basis for policy guiding human actions or inactions at any given

I would like invite critical comment of the above views, and of the
following selection and expression of a set of facts and values, as
well as suggestions for improving them:


F1) The Universe and life exist.
F2) The Universe has the capacity for consciousness,
self-awareness, joy, awe and wonder.
F3) The Earth is the only known habitat for life in the
F4) It has taken four billion years (equivalent to nearly a
one-mile walk at one million years to the foot) for man to
evolve from the first primitive life on Earth.
F5) Plant and animal life evolved without human guidance.
F6) The sun can support life on Earth for perhaps another
billion years (1000 feet).
F7) Humans are dependent upon the living systems of the planet.
F8) We are substantially ignorant of the complexities,
interdependencies, and stability conditions of the
F9) The fundamental irreversibles are genetic and ecospheric.
F10) Man has not demonstrated that he is either a) knowledgeable
and wise enough to commence guiding genetic and ecospheric
evolution to a more enduringly robust and equally diverse
state, or b) that if he does so, the system can
re-equilibrate to a benevolent life-support state when
man, inevitably, is no longer able to guide it.
F11) There are 30 times as many people today as at any time
before Christ.
F12) The present human population is responsible for vastly much
greater rate of impact on the environment than was that of
primitive man.
F13) The time constant for the evolution of species can be
millions of years.
F14) The wild places of the Earth have, during the past 1000
years (1/100th of an inch), been shrunk by humans from
roughly from 50 percent of the land area to 1 percent.
F15) Human action today will have very significant impact on the
F16) We are destroying the genetic capital of the planet before
knowing the consequence.
F17) The power of a single deviant human to harm others is
F18) The number of deviants may correlate positively with the
size of the population.


V1) The future matters.
V2) We ought to preserve options for the future, these being
principally genetic and ecospheric.
V3) Plant and animal species and systems should be allowed to
continue to evolve.
V4) In wildness is the preservation of the world.
V5) Given the potential of another billion years (1000 ft) of
life on Earth, there is no need to rush to irreversible
V6) All people should enjoy quality, fulfilling lives.
V7) Others should be treated as we would wish to be treated.
V8) Each person who wishes to do so should have the opportunity
to enjoy natural places, and to live freely, peacefully,
and close to and dependent upon the land, and water.

- Sid Liebes