Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Earth Paradise Manifesto

Image courtesy of Maciej Rebisz
Click the image to see a larger view of this beautiful work!
See more of Maciej's artwork at Art-of-Voyager

by Robert Burke
Number 4 in a series

Why shouldn't the Earth be the best possible place it can be?

1. I believe that the Earth can and must become the best possible place it can be.

2. I believe that quality of life on this planet expands or contracts to the extent that we seek to improve it.

3. I believe that the purpose of human life on this planet is to evolve to a higher state of being.

4. I believe that we are the magic and that life is the miracle on this planet; all else is engineering.

5. I believe that we have always overcome challenges to our survival and will continue to do so, now and forever.

6. I believe that we can find better solutions and make better choices in the way we choose to live our lives.

7. I believe that when we change what we value, we change markets, and when we change markets we change the world.

8. I believe that people will make better choices when change becomes the best product for the best price or best serves personal need and survival.

9. I believe that there is at least one small thing that each one of us can do to make the world a better place.

10. I believe that one person and one act can change the world for the better.

11. I believe that where one person finds a way, others may follow, and that becomes a movement.

12. I believe that with intelligence, determination, and teamwork we can and must solve the challenges of our day.

Copyright Robert Burke 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How To Change The World

Image courtesy of NASA

by Robert Burke
Number 3 in a series

Why shouldn't the Earth be the best possible place it can be? How can we make the Earth that best possible place? How do we change the world?

Brother, can you change a light bulb?

Did you know that replacing an incandescent light bulb with a qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) reduces energy consumption by as much as 75%, saves $30 over the life of the bulb, lasts 10 times as long, and produces 75% less heat, thereby reducing cooling costs? (1)

SMALL CHANGES ADD UP says, "If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars." (1)

"But wait," you say, "don't CFL's contain mercury and isn't that bad for the environment, too?"

Concern about the mercury in CFL's is a grain of sand compared to the overall advantages. A CFL contains less than 1% of the amount of mercury found in older mercury thermometers, 4 milligrams-or-less vs. 500 milligrams. As long as the bulb remains intact, the mercury is not released into the environment. (2)

As far as that goes, the mercury released by a coal burning power plant that produces the electricity to power a CFL actually releases 3 times as much mercury (1.2 milligrams) into the environment as what a sealed CFL contains. The equivalent energy to power an incandescent light bulb releases five times as much mercury, 5.8 milligrams! (2)(3)

The point is, there is some small thing you can do to make the world a better place, even if it's only replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL.

But what if we all start doing "some small thing" to make the world a better place? What would that look like?


If you change what you value then you change markets and markets change the world.

At its simplest, changing the world is a matter of finding better solutions, making better choices, and "voting" with your pocketbook. What you purchase will increase, and what you reject will decrease.

You have the power to become a conscious consumer. You have the power to say, "No, I don't want that." Or, "No, I want something better." Or, "No, that doesn't work for me anymore."

You have the power to understand the issues, find better solutions, and make better choices. You have the power to control how you live your life and where your money goes.


Is change easy? No. True change always occurs against resistance. At some primal level, sameness equals survival. We want today to be like yesterday, and we want tomorrow to be like today.

We say we want to change, but we want someone else to do it for us. We say we want to change, but we don't want to leave the safety of our house, our routine, our fixed beliefs. We say we want change, but it's easier to do the same thing we did yesterday, and somehow expect different results.


True change only occurs in the presence of direct pain or direct threat to survival. Without suffering there is no will to change.

Consider the following. As an employee of a large corporation you become aware of a situation that is detrimental to getting your job done. Maybe there is another employee with a poor attitude, or some unsafe condition exists, or maybe there is more work than can be done by the available resources.

You report the situation to management. If you have a smart manager, he or she will empower you to correct the situation yourself. But usually, what happens? NOTHING.

Nothing happens because the situation is not causing the manager direct pain. There is no direct interaction between the manager and the employee with the poor attitude, the unsafe condition has always existed and no one has been injured, or the work load is getting done by salaried employees who work overtime and weekends without additional compensation.

In fact, do you know what's causing the manager pain? YOU ARE. From the manager's perspective, employees come and employees go, and the company keeps doing much of what it has always been doing. Indeed, your complaint is the only situation that is causing the manager direct pain. As far as he or she is concerned, YOU are the problem! (4) This is the way it works.


These are important points to remember when we want to change the world for the better. How do you suppose you can cause "direct pain" and "suffering" to the companies that want to sell you the same crap they've always sold you?

You say "No." You find better solutions. You make better choices. Your pocketbook comes into alignment with your values.

Each one of us, doing one small thing to make the world a better place, has the power to change the world. Where one person finds a way, others may follow, and that becomes a movement.

Friends, it's time to start making those changes. Six billion points of light--you, me, and everyone else on this planet, sometimes only doing one small thing, can make the Earth a better place!


(1) EnergyStar, "Compact Fluorescent Bulbs for Consumers," .

(2) EnergyStar, "Frequently Asked Questions - Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury," , July 2008.

(3) For safe CFL disposal, take your used CFL's to Ace Hardware or Home Depot stores; or for more options, simply Google "CFL disposal."

(4) As an employee, the best way to report a work problem to management is to suggest three possible solutions and to be prepared to do the work yourself. Unsafe conditions, of course, should be communicated immediately!

Copyright Robert Burke 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Earth Paradise Goals

Image courtesy of NASA

Number 2 in a series
by Robert Burke

Why shouldn't the Earth be the best possible place it can be?

The name of this Blog is "How We Win," so it's reasonable to ask, "How we win WHAT?" Here are the goals of achieving an Earth Paradise as previously delineated in Our Paradise in the Void.

1. Clean air.

2. Clean water.

3. Minimal man-made pollutants.

4. Replacement of fossil fuel energy sources with alternative resources.

5. Personal freedom to become our best possible selves.

6. Appreciation of the diversity of culture, ethnic origin, and gender that enrich our societies.

7. Societal and international disagreements are resolved without violence or force.

8. Non-participation and passive resistance become the highest expression of opposition and dissent.

9. Societies and nations recognize the necessity to contribute to the common good.

10. Human beings become the true stewards of the Earth, for all its creatures.

In short, the Earth becomes the best possible place it can be, for all of its inhabitants.

Skeptics should be doubled-over with laughter about now. Are these goals naive, or impossible?

IT IS NAIVE to believe that everyone will simply begin to play together nicely. That is not going to happen.

The truth is, people and nations, respect strength and exploit weakness. That's part of who we are and it is not going to change. Alpha dogs lead the way, and the rest of us follow, fear, compete, or cooperate with them. Human beings are not dogs, but nor can we dismiss the evolutionary forces of natural selection.

There is no peace without strength, and no one should be naive about that.

For that reason I don't see disarmament occurring anytime in the foreseeable future. Perhaps when a "Earth Paradise" becomes more of a reality the need for standing armies will go away. Or perhaps armies themselves will transform into armies of engineers, workers, and relief personnel who go out and provide construction and emergency services wherever they are needed. No matter how much our societies improve, accidents and natural disasters will still occur, and environmental challenges will be with us for generations, if not forever.


Will we keep burning every fossil fuel we can get our hands on? Will we continue to pump unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the Earth's atmosphere? Will we compete against other nations, and make war, to obtain those fossil fuels? Will we continue "business as usual," while the environmental consequences of our activities grow ever more perilous?

The alternatives to solving our problems are Worse, Much Worse, and Extinction. The goals of achieving an Earth Paradise are not naive or impossible, they are essential to any reasonable quality of life on this planet, and perhaps to our very survival!

We really have no other choice. We must solve our problems.

It doesn't matter that at this time we may not know how to solve our problems and achieve our goals. That's usually how it works. At the beginning you don't know what to do or how to do it.

In 1961, United States President John F. Kennedy announced a ten-year plan to put a man on the Moon. We didn't know how to do that either. We figured it out as we went along, and we accomplished that goal.

There have always been challenges to our survival. It's always been something, hasn't it? Predators, disease, drought, starvation, wars--whatever the challenges we have always overcome them.

We do not have any other choice than to solve our problems. We have to be smart. We have to be determined. We have to work together. Intelligence, Determination, Teamwork, that's how human beings solve problems and achieve goals.

We will also solve the challenges of our day. There is no other choice.

Copyright Robert Burke 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our Paradise in the Void

Earth and the Moon from the Voyager 1 spacecraft, 1977.
Image courtesy of NASA

Number 1 in a series
by Robert Burke

Why shouldn't the Earth be the best possible place it can be?

Earth is our bright, shiny Paradise in the Void. As far as we know, the Earth is the only planet capable of supporting human life.

Even though we hear of so-called "earth-like" planets in orbit around distant stars, and may some day confirm the presence of water or organic life on other planets within our own solar system, the Earth is the only habitable planet that is available to us NOW. The Earth may also be the only habitable planet that is EVER available to us.


"There is no magic. The only way to move something from point A to point B is to get up and move it!" --Peter Townsend

The Earth provides opportunities for our survival but does not guarantee it. Survival must be earned. There is no magic. If all of us were to sit on our behinds and do nothing, dehydration would render the bulk of the human race extinct within a week. No angels would appear to provide us sustenance, no furry forest animals would come to our rescue, and no space aliens would come down from the skies to "beam us up" and save us.

The real magic is that life, and intelligent life, exists on this planet. The real magic is that we exist. And we survive not by magic, but by engineering.


Flip a light switch and we have instantaneous light. To persons living a few hundred years ago this would be magic indeed! We take it for granted and expect that it will always be there. Many of us may be so far removed from the source of the technology that we have very little understanding, or appreciation, for how it works.

If the light comes on when we flip a switch, it means that somewhere there is an electric power plant. That power plant runs twenty-four hours a day. It is likely fueled by coal, nuclear energy, or hydroelectric power. A network of transmission towers carries the power from hundreds of miles away to our cities and local communities. Power substations then distribute the power through transformers and power lines to our individual homes.

If there is a break in any part of that grid, then there is no light when we flip the switch. Magic will not supply power to the light. Only engineering will restore the power and keep it running. That's how the world works. It's physics and it's engineering, not magic.

The point is, magical beings will not save us. (1) Wishful thinking will not save us. It is good to have hope for a better tomorrow, but hope in the absence of intelligent, determined action is not a strategy for success.


So how do we solve our problems? How do we solve global warming, pollution, overpopulation, war, poverty, and diminishing resources?

The answer involves suffering. The case is not that suffering is good, but that it is necessary to induce change, for without suffering there is no will to change. Here in the United States, before $5 a gallon gas there was no will to avoid gas-guzzling SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) and trucks. High gas prices got out attention.

Economic collapse has gotten our attention. Melting ice caps, glaciers, and extreme weather has gotten our attention. Incompetent political leadership and corrupt corporate management has gotten our attention. And so it goes. Without suffering nothing changes.

Suffering inspires change, and change is necessary because we can't solve our problems by doing the same things we've always done.


For all the problems and challenges ahead of us, the good news is that we have an immense opportunity to make our world a better place.

There is nothing like having a fire under our butts to inspire creativity! There is nothing like a common disaster to bring us to all together. There is nothing like direct pain and suffering to cut through the hubris and noise of our lives. There is nothing like a struggle for survival to focus on the things that really matter.


The Free Dictionary ( defines "paradise" as, "A place of ideal beauty or loveliness." But if you go back to earlier meanings of the word, it means a "garden" or "enclosed park" (Greek) or "a wall enclosing a garden or orchard" (Iranian). (2)

When you look at the Voyager 1 photograph of the Earth and Moon, what do you see? What does our beautiful blue orb look like there in the uninhabitable darkness of space?

Compared to everything else in our solar system and everywhere else we know, the Earth indeed does look like a garden or park! The Earth is an absolute treasure in a very inhospitable universe.

Why shouldn't the Earth be the best possible place it can be? There really is nowhere else to go, no other place for human beings to reside. This is it. And it's the only "it" there is.

So what is an "Earth Paradise?" What would that look like?

It's not a perfect place. Accidents and natural disasters will continue to happen. Strife between people and nations will still occur. It's how we deal with those things that must change.

"Earth Paradise" is a place where the air is safe to breath. It's a place where water is safe to drink, and man-made pollutants of all kinds are kept to their absolute minimal. It's a place where we don't burn fossil fuels to provide energy to our homes and businesses.

"Earth Paradise" is a place where every person is free to become his or her best possible self, and where diversity of culture, ethnic origin, and gender is recognized for the enrichment that it provides to the whole.

"Earth Paradise" is a place where people "agree to disagree" without resorting to weapons of destruction and violence. It is a place where the highest form of opposition is simple non-participation.

"Earth Paradise" is a place where human beings understand the necessity to contribute to the common good. It is a place where we become true stewards of the Earth, not only for ourselves, but for all the bio diverse organisms with whom we share this planet.

Is this all naive, or impossible? No.


Earth can become a paradise for all of its inhabitants. Overwhelmingly, the problems and challenges we face are created by people. People can find solutions to these problems, or find ways to adapt to them, or workarounds to avoid them.

What must change are the hearts of men. The hearts of men will change when the pain of NOT changing becomes greater than the pain of changing.

When change becomes a necessity of survival, people will change. When change becomes the path of least resistance, people will change.

When change becomes the best product for the best price, people will change.

When change best serves personal greed and self-interest, people will change.


We do not have any other choice than to solve our problems. We have to be smart. We have to be determined. We have to work together.

INTELLIGENCE, DETERMINATION, TEAMWORK--these are our opportunities; that's how human beings solve problems. That's how eons ago our ancestors, without fang or claw, survived the long night of the predator on the plains of Africa. There have always been challenges to our survival, and we have always overcome them.

WE WILL SOLVE the challenges of our day. There is no other choice.


(1) Personally, I like to believe in a higher power, and that the higher power has a grand purpose for the human race. I like to believe that angels watch over us and sometimes intervene in human affairs.

Those are comforting thoughts that nurture the spirit and provide balance in a world that sometimes threatens to overwhelm us. Something in us needs to feel that connection to the universe and to something larger than ourselves.

Even so, for the most part I believe the world simply works the way it is supposed to work--that is, the way God intended it; and if there is some problem that needs to be solved, then it's up to you and me to solve it together, also as God intended.

(2) The Free Dictionary,

Copyright Robert Burke 2009