Why did I create this website?
Hopefully, this website will inspire others to take action as well, but truthfully, its main purpose is to assist in my efforts to acquire philanthropic funding. That is the only way I can move forward with all the ambitious projects and strategies I aim to set in motion.
The bottom line is this: (a) Since this is the only planet we know of, in the entire universe, capable of supporting life, shouldn’t we be taking much better care of it? And (b) if dinosaurs could survive on this planet for some 150 million years, 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 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. Daily, more and more evidence accumulates to suggest 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. More and more species are disappearing. 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 tremendously. We continue producing mountains of waste; and continue polluting our land, water and air, in so many 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 problems persist, we continue creating 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 – perhaps the best analogy is the one likening man to a frog sitting in a pot of water, atop a stove’s burner, that – failing to sense the urgency and jump out – gets boiled alive. Our predicament is not nearly as simple to rectify, but 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 doesn’t it stand to reason that something immensely more complicated like ‘saving the planet’ might require one as well?
Also, since writing the book is not my goal — ‘saving the planet’ is my goal — it is 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. (The Solutions section of this website contains more information on this subject matter.)
Incidentally, while I tend to use the phrase “saving the planet” to describe what’s at stake, I hope it doesn’t throw you. I know it may sound a bit awkward or abstract, and may even be technically imprecise, but despite its shortcomings, I know of no other phrase that better captures the essence and the urgency of the weighty meaning intended. 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 a van we were traveling in at the time. I ordered a copy of the speech — and transcript — soon after; and have relistened to it many times since. There are some 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 one of the best articulations on the subject of environmentalism that I have yet heard. There are even a couple points in it where I get a little teary-eyed, every time I rehear it. It never loses that power. [To order a copy of the speech, see the Links page.]
The importance of funding
More than anything else, one thing has held me back all these years: lack of funding. I have the vision, ideas and determination, I just lack the ability to set those wheels in motion. Virtually all of my time and attention get diverted away from what I would most like to be doing – working towards implementing the steps we need to be taking – as I must instead direct my time and energy towards mundane 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 things which could otherwise be delegated to personal assistants.
I remember back 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 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 continue to worsen. It reminds me of a proverb (paraphrased below):
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 sums it up nicely, because for want of that philanthropic funding I am seeking (that “little horse shoe nail”), this perilously polluted and plundered planet may be lost. (I realize that may sound grandiose; but if you read the Afterword section — and then view those thoughts within the context and framework of the entirety of this website — you might agree with the underlying logic behind my choosing such an analogy.)
How much funding do I need?
“Exactly how much funding do you need?” you may be wondering. Deciding how best to answer that question, 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, all environmental victories are reversible. That’s a profound and sobering thought. And therefore, in reality, no amount of money is ever going to be enough (to insure victory). But this much is true: the more funding I receive, 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 destruction that is unfolding daily, and the frightening trajectory we are on, I would like to have the financial resources of a Bill Gates, to work with. However, realistically speaking, something along the level of funding comparable to a MacArthur Fellowship – $625,000 – would be both more likely attainable, and still allow me to move forward in a big way. Then, by focusing my time and attention on setting as much of my plans in motion as that level of funding would allow, that could in turn pave the way for a much greater participatory funding flow in the future.
Reading through the FAQs related to the MacArthur Fellows Program – on the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation website – years ago, I came to the conclusion that if you take away the “based on a track record of accomplishment” stipulation, all the rest very much describes someone like myself.
Incidentally, while I have great respect for the philosophy behind the MacArthur Fellows Program and how it is set up, I would offer this advice: (a) the “based on a track record of accomplishment” stipulation leaves out those who possess enormous promise, but lack tangible achievements – Bill Gates didn’t have “a track record of accomplishment” when dropping out of college to pursue his pet project in his parent’s garage; and (b) I would suggest putting greater emphasis on selecting individuals engaged in doing ‘saving the planet’-type work.
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 or eventually 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 pages 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, and as a 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 thinker the environmental movement so desperately needs right now, but ultimately, you are going to have to make that determination for yourself. Knowing what’s at stake (posterity, the habitability of the planet), I am hoping you will make the right decision. To assist in that endeavor, I have put together this website. I believe you will find the About me, Solutions, and Afterword pages particularly helpful in that regard. If 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 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’s all it takes! And you might be that one. If you share my vision, or envision my potential.