I am devoting my life to “saving the planet” … but I need your help.
Why did I create this website? In short, its main purpose is to assist me in my effort to acquire philanthropic gift capital – so I can quit my day job, roll up my sleeves, and get busy doing all the myriad things I am chomping at the bit to be doing, with an aim towards “saving the planet” (that is my goal!).
Here are some additional things this website could accomplish: (a) while funding is fundamental – the springboard that will enable me to set everything in motion – another key aim I have is to get to the point where I can work collaboratively with an assembled team of like-minded individuals (see Afterword page). This website could act as a vehicle for finding such individuals; (b) this website could act as a source of inspiration for others: to write a bestseller, or a hit song (shaped out of concern about what we are doing to the planet); someone who might not otherwise have considered it could decide to run for president, or some other high-ranking office; some key media mogul(s) might decide to focus their attention more on environmental issues, or to cover them in greater depth; and so forth … ; (c) Lastly, this website might also serve to help better educate the public (and having a more educated electorate is something that we desperately need).
The bottom line is this: (a) Since this is the only planet we know of, in the entire universe, that is capable of supporting life, we should be taking much better care of it. And (b) if dinosaurs could survive on this planet for over 150 million years, then, doesn’t it stand to reason, that given our intelligence, humankind should be able to survive at least as long, or longer?
Concerning that latter premise, I don’t believe that we, as a species, are anywhere near as intelligent as we think we are – and I believe a cursory glance at human history bears that out. There are many reasons why I seriously question whether our species is as intelligent as we think we are. Especially when I see all the damage we are insouciantly wreaking upon this planet. Each day, more and more evidence accumulates, to suggest that society doesn’t comprehend the enormity of the problems we are facing, or doesn’t care – or doesn’t care enough – or is clueless concerning what humankind needs to be doing differently. Ecosystems all around the world are in decline. Rain forests are shrinking. Increasingly, more and more species are becoming extinct or endangered. Global warming continues unabated. Ozone depletion continues to be a concern. Acid rain threatens the health of forests. Coral reefs are dying off at alarming rates. Many areas are being overfished. We continue producing mountains of waste; and continue polluting our land, water and air, in so many different ways. National debts keep rising. World population continues increasing. Nuclear arms technology continues to proliferate. War, torture, and the perpetual denial of basic human rights, all around the world, continues to persist.
Additionally, as these existing problems persist, we continue creating even more causes for concern: creating new forms of life (manipulating genes); the possibility of human cloning edges closer to fruition; proponents of transhumanism, casually discuss manipulating the human genome; proponents of geoengineering, matter-of-factly pitch their proposed remedies; and the eventual emergence of a pathogen, capable of wiping out our species, is always a possibility.
Concerning man’s inaction – in the face of impending environmental doom – the best analogy I have yet seen, likens man to a frog, sitting in a pot of water, on a stove, above a flame, that – failing to sense the urgency and jump out – gets boiled alive. Though our predicament is not nearly as simple to rectify, our inaction is nearly identical to that of the frog.
I believe it all comes down to this: big problems require big solutions, and big solutions require big changes; we need a sea change in our way of thinking. We need a paradigm shift of Pangean proportions.
This is where my future book (and the work associated with it) comes in. I often describe it as a blueprint for saving the planet. Think of it this way, who would think of constructing a building, without first having, in hand, a blueprint? No one? Precisely! So something immensely more complicated like “saving the planet” – if we are to be successful – necessitates having one, in hand, as well.
Also, since my goal is not simply to write the book, my goal is, ultimately, to “save the planet,” it will, of course, be necessary to work towards implementing the steps espoused in the book, concurrently, while the book is being written. While the book could take years to complete, the existential threats to the biosphere demand immediate action. (See the Solutions section of this website, for more information related to this subject matter.)
Incidentally, while I tend to use the phrase “saving the planet” quite a lot, throughout this website, I hope it doesn’t confuse you in any way. I understand it may sound a bit awkward, or abstract, and may even be technically imprecise. It also fails to convey another of my very deep concerns: regarding man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man. Nevertheless, despite its shortcomings, I know of no other phrase that better captures the essence and the urgency, of the weighty meaning intended, and the weighty challenges ahead of us. Perhaps, another reason I embrace this phrase, is because a long time ago, while working for Greenpeace, I heard Helen Caldicott’s “Saving the Planet” speech (Portland, OR, 11/12/89), broadcast over the radio, in the vehicle me and several co-workers were traveling in. I ordered a copy of that speech soon afterward, and have re-listened to it many times since. There are a few statements Caldicott makes, which aren’t entirely accurate – like when she says “the elephant is almost extinct” – and I don’t agree with everything she says (for example, I don’t share her enthusiasm for making voting compulsory – as is the case in her native Australia), but overall, it is probably the best articulation on the subject of environmentalism that I have yet heard. There are even a couple points in it at which I get a little teary-eyed, every time I relisten to it. It never loses that power! [To order a copy of the speech, see the Links page.]
A local ecologist suggested substituting the term “biosphere,” for the word “planet,” but while the resulting phrase (“save the biosphere”) might be technically correct, it still retains a certain awkwardness; and, I suspect, most people are more comfortable hearing the much more familiar word “planet,” in this context. Besides, aren’t dictionaries a bit like Swiss cheese, anyway? Quite often, an idea or a concept will come to mind, for which there is no given word (at least in the English language) – so maybe the correct phrasing is simply just not yet available for what I wish to convey, whenever I use that phrase. In short, I will stick with the phrasing I am most comfortable using: “saving the planet.” Just don’t let it throw you.
More than anything else, one main thing has held me back all these years: not having the capital to move forward. I believe I have the vision, ideas, drive, and determination, but what I perpetually lack – and this is crucial – is the ability to set those wheels in motion. Virtually all of my time and attention are diverted away from what I would like to be doing – such as (a) reading, (b) thinking about the problems, (c) thinking about solutions, and (d) working towards implementing the steps we need to be taking – as I must instead put that time and energy into things like (a) all the work associated with creating and getting this website up and running, (b) working, (c) paying bills, and (d) doing all the myriad mundane things which could otherwise be relegated to personal assistants. I remember back when I was in high school, I had a teacher – Mr. Chiavoli, of the business education department – in my senior year, who said: “When you get to be my age, you’ll see that a year goes by like the blink of an eye.” Naturally, we all laughed. But with each passing year, the wisdom of those words becomes increasingly evident. Time flies. And meanwhile, as I grow older, anxious for the day when I can finally set my plans in motion, the problems of the world only continue to worsen. It reminds me of these famous lines (and perhaps I might be paraphrasing here):
For want of a nail, a shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost.
For want of a horse, a rider was lost.
For want of a rider, a message was lost.
For want of a message, a battle was lost.
For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a little horse shoe nail.
That, in my opinion, sums up the story of my life, up to this point, because, for want of that woefully lacking financial depth that I am seeking (that little horse shoe nail), the world is being lost. (I realize that may sound grandiose; but once you read the Afterword section [and particularly, if you then perceive those thoughts within the context and framework of the entirety of this website], then, perhaps you might agree with the underlying logic behind my choosing such an analogy.)
Why is sufficient starting capital so important? Well, consider this: we spend about a third of our life working; about a third of our life sleeping; and much of the remaining third is spent doing things like commuting to and from work, unwinding after work, shopping, preparing meals, doing laundry, washing dishes, going through the day’s mail, returning calls, putting out the trash, paying bills, and so forth. In fact, if you think about it, except for when we retire, there isn’t a whole lot of free time in our adult lives, with which to spend as we choose. But with sufficient capital, I can (a) quit my job, (b) hire personal assistants, and (c) no longer have to pour so much time and energy into seeking to acquire the means necessary to do “a,” and “b.” This would free up between two to three hundred hours, every month – time that could be redirected towards “saving the planet.”
To illustrate what a difference even an extra thirty minutes per day can mean (as meager as that amount of time may seem), if you did something for just a half hour every day (watch television, for example), throughout your entire worklife (e.g. from age eighteen to sixty-six), then that would be the equivalent of engaging in that activity (watching television, for instance) for one full solid year (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 365 days), uninterrupted. And taking into consideration how little free time the average working person actually has, here is another way to look at it: that thirty minutes per day, cumulatively, is equivalent to several years worth of a typical person’s available free time. Why do I bring this up? Because if fifteen hours per month can be that significant, just imagine what I can accomplish having an extra two to three hundred hours per month, to devote to this cause!
Now let me turn my attention towards addressing a question that has probably crossed your mind, but has no simple answer: “Exactly how much capital do you need?” Deciding how best to answer that question, inevitably brings to mind the words of American naturalist George Schaller: “There are never victories in conservation. If you want to save a species or a habitat, it’s a fight forevermore. You can never turn your back.” It’s true, in a sense, that all environmental “victories” are pyrrhic. Therefore, in reality, no amount of money is ever going to be enough (to insure victory). But while that is a profound and sobering thought, this is also true: the greater my financial depth, the more people I can afford to hire, the more of my plan I can put into action, and the more speedily I can set those wheels in motion. Considering the magnitude of the environmental holocaust that is unfolding and worsening with each passing day, I would very much like to have the resources of a Bill Gates, to work with (and that still wouldn’t be enough). That said – and more realistically speaking – something along the level of funding comparable to a MacArthur Fellowship grant – currently, $625,000 – would be a very, very small but significant, initial, first step. It would allow me to advertise on a much grander scale, hire assistants (to a very limited extent), and it would enable me to focus my time and attention on setting as much of my plans in motion as that level of funding would allow. I think it would provide me with enough momentum to be able to move forward, in a very big way!
Personally speaking, having familiarized myself, years ago, with the FAQs related to the MacArthur Fellows Program – on the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation website [Note: this refers to information contained on their website in the past, and that information may have since changed.] – it is my opinion that if you take away the “based on a track record of accomplishment” stipulation, all the rest very much describes someone like myself.
Incidentally, I have a great respect for the philosophy behind the MacArthur Fellows Program. It is indeed very well thought out, and very well-articulated on their website. The only constructive criticism I would offer, is this: (a) the “based on a track record of accomplishment” stipulation (among the selection criteria), leaves out all people (such as myself) who possess enormous promise, but lack tangible accomplishments or achievements – and I would note that Bill Gates didn’t have “a track record of accomplishment,” when he dropped out of college to pursue his particular pet project; and (b) I would prefer to see it (or an offshoot of it), limited exclusively (or predominantly) to people doing work directly related to “saving the planet” (as opposed to, for example, focusing on only one particular species, or one particular region, or on one particular facet of environmentalism) – in other words, people who are pursuing “saving the planet”-type work, but in a holistic way.
Let me now turn my attention to a delicate subject: religion. A philanthropist willing to gift me seed capital, will probably be a like-minded philanthropist; and a like-minded philanthropist, will probably share my views – to one degree or another – concerning religion. In short, I believe we need to aim towards reinventing and replacing religion, with what could perhaps best be described as a secular, ecocentric paradigm. To read more about my views concerning religion, go to the Quotations and About me sections of this website. In the end portion of the latter, I have assembled a collection of some of my thoughts and observations — some of which, touch upon this topic.
In conclusion, as the familiar saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I can tell you I am precisely the type of person the environmental movement so very desperately needs right now, but ultimately you are going to have to make that determination for yourself. Knowing what is at stake (e.g. posterity, the future of humankind, the habitability of the planet), I hope you will make the right decision. To assist you in this endeavor, I have put together this website. I believe you will find the About me, Solutions, and Afterword sections particularly helpful in this regard. If, after familiarizing yourself with this website, you wish to contact me, please do so (see Contact page). I sincerely thank you for your concern about what man is doing to the planet, and greatly appreciate your taking the time to visit my website.
Paul A. Reinicke
P.S.: Years ago, I heard a woman being interviewed on a radio program, recalling words of encouragement her father had shared with her back when she was trying to enter into the world of sports broadcasting (an almost exclusively male-dominated field of employment, at the time) – and this equally applies to me, now, regarding my striving for philanthropic backing. These are the words her father spoke: “You only need one ‘Yes.’ You only need one person to believe in you.” That is so true – just one person, one individual, one philanthropist, one “Yes” – that is all it takes. And you might be that one – if you share my vision … or envision my potential.