Where there’s a will… there may well be a way…

Several months have rushed by since my last update on the progress of Jungenomics. Things are progressing, but too slowly for my liking – I’m not getting any younger…

I met with Myles Archibald (of Harper Collins) again in October when he generously treated me to a slap-up lunch in his Knightsbridge (London) club. Once again he was encouraging and supportive (he’s a nice guy – and he likes fishing which gives him even more stars in my book) … He talked of making something iconic with the book. But (why is there always a but..) while the main chapters were ready for the editor, the first – very important one – still needed quite a lot of work – and even then there were no guarantees they would take it on. Myles freely admits he’s a “pirate” – and quite rightly too. He needs to be confident Junglenomics will make money- a new author is always a risk. After all, what good will it be to anyone if no-one buys it?! Gone are the days when a publisher could just publish because they liked something – the digital revolution has seen all that off indefinitely.

Yet I firmly believe there is a place for Junglenomics – and a big one. So do others – see “the Myth Gap” by Alex Evans (Penguin 2017).

So the last few months have been taken up with picking apart and recontructing the first chapter. After this post I am going to put up a chunk of it, preceded by the shortened Preface, which Myles was dead keen on as a strong statement of the content and aims of Junglenomics.

I had an interesting meeting the other day with Lisa Gianesci. She runs the extremely worthy ADM Foundation, whose focus is on conservation and social good works in the Far East (see www.admcf.org). Lisa was very supportive, and recommended I meet up with the UK conservation guru – Andrew Mitchell (amongst other things the conservation advisor to HRH Prince Charles). I’m extremely grateful to her for making this connection for me. I see him on Tuesday. The aim is to gain endorsements for Junglenomics in order to help Harper Collins make up their minds – in the right direction…! More anon.

Progress report – publication by Harper Collins?

There’s a fighting chance Junglenomics will be published by Harper Collins! I first met the big white chief there, Myles Archibald, over 2 years ago and he was supportive and helpful, but critical of its structure. The problem was that the book had been so long in the writing that it had been rather stitched together ad hoc over the years, and as a result had failed to gell. His advice led to rather more than the ‘cutting and pasting’ that he recommended – in fact to a complete re-write that took 2 and a half years! (But what’s that compared to the 20 years it had taken to then?)

I removed a large chunk of the early part of the book exploring the colonising hypothesis as I decided that was best produced afterwards as a ‘prequel’ for those interested in the scientific and mathematical evidence for my ‘colonisation theory’ (to be called The Engine of Evolution). Instead I abbreviated this into a section of the introduction. Meanwhile I updated the rest and expanded the applications for Ecosynomics to include amongst other things a new chapter on the oceans.

I went back to see Myles last month in HC’s posh new offices at the top of the Press Building at no. 1 London Bridge – in the shadow of the Shard. He was very complimentary on my efforts and talked openly of there being a gap in the market for this, and, subject to certain fairly minor modifications, HC could well be interested in taking it on. In the meantime they need to do some ‘number crunching’ (they are a business, so naturally it’s all about profitability).

So here I am in limbo at the edge of launching into my lifetime ambition to make a positive contribution to bringing an end to environmental destruction. My nails are bitten to the quick (metaphorically) and every day for 4 weeks now I have been scanning my emails, heart in mouth.

I will of course post the result. In the meantime I’m working hard on the suggested adjustments (apparently these are only at the start – the main body of the book is ready for their editors).

More soon.

Why You Should Read This Book

Junglenomics

“You don’t need new ideas, you need a new perspective” (Oliver Burkeman)
New perspectives are hard to come by. For all our superior brains we humans often find ourselves trapped in a nightmare déjà vu world where however hard we struggle to escape our worst problems, whatever inventive ideas we come up with to change our ways, we seem destined to repeat our mistakes. Perhaps Ramus and Rubin’s classic film Groundhog Day struck such a cord because people recognised this feeling of being stuck in a time warp, unable to escape our fate whatever we might try. Our problem is that we view the world through fixed lenses that prevent us from seeing the bigger picture; we see what is happening in the room, but fail to look out of the window, so we remain trapped in that room. We do this in our personal lives, and no less so in our behaviour on the big stage, particularly in behaviours that affect the health of our precious planetary ecosystem.
In the movie, the escape from Groundhog Day could only be found via a reawakening and a radical change of heart. This is something that the human world needs to emulate – by rediscovering and reinventing its entire relationship with the natural world. The way the world can free itself from the cycle of environmental failure is therefore not to keep tinkering with the same old failed approaches, but instead to step back and change how we look at the problems we want to solve. “The real act of discovery,” wrote Marcel Proust, “consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” The satirist comedian George Carlin called this trick “vuja dé”, a weird feeling of unfamiliarity that reveals previously unrecognised solutions and opportunities.
This book offers a new economic lens through which we can find ways to solve our environmental problems, throwing open the windows of modern life to see it anew through what Zen Buddhists call “beginners mind”, that fresh and open mindset stripped of preconceptions that allows you to see the world as it really is. Without such a fresh perspective on our environmental problems we are sure to remain trapped in our Groundhog Day despite our newly avowed determination to escape it, reaching our epiphany only when it is far too late.
Working out what needs to be achieved to rescue the world’s environments from their current precipitous decline is no longer the problem. There is now a pretty clear picture of what should happen next – a must-do list that stretches from carbon reduction, to rainforest protection, to ocean governance, to pollution eradication, to food security. The world has now gathered more than 20 times to discuss these crucial issues and agree action, and almost every time it has declared reams of good intentions. Yet despite all the talk and promises little of substance has been achieved and the environmental slide has gone on unchecked.
The latest meeting in Paris – the much fanfared ‘COP 21’ – succeeded in setting the most ambitious targets yet in the form of voluntary pledges by the 196 nations that gathered there. Judging by the subsequent hyperbole, enthusiasm for the resulting accord was not in short supply – it was hailed variously as ‘monumental’ and ‘a turning point’.
Yet if we have learned anything from the 20 previous such meetings it is that promises are cheap. Even if it is a turning point the Paris Accord is still only the beginning of the story, the first step on a long and difficult journey towards a sustainable relationship with the natural world. With targets now set, the challenge is now no longer what to aim for, but how to get it done. Implementation is the new watchword.
However, the world is a complex place with innumerable competing economic and political interests that frequently clash, undermining even the best and most organised of plans. So how can nations now turn their good intentions into reality? How can they tame the powerful economic forces that have caused our excesses and that have so far thwarted them, and yet still develop and grow their economies?
This is now the greatest challenge facing the world. For if world leaders cannot bring their pledges to fruition then all their talk and planning will again be wasted, and the world will continue on a path to a future that is unworthy of mankind’s extraordinary intelligence and ability.
Carbon-generated climate change is seen as the biggest environmental issue, but it is by no means the only one. Biodiversity, the oceans, pollution, poverty – these too are vital global issues that equally deserve our attention. It is therefore time to use the newfound enthusiasm and momentum gained in Paris to do much more than reduce carbon emissions, and to fundamentally revise our entire interface with the natural world.
Despite much doom-saying that it is already too late, I believe there is still time to achieve this, but only if nations thoroughly revise their thinking and go about it in the right way.
So what is the right way?
Junglenomics describes not only what must be achieved, but also most importantly how to go about turning it into reality. It does so by viewing it through the lens of science – the science of evolution, of ecology, and of anthropology. I call the resulting economic paradigm, “Ecosystemic Economics” – Ecosynomics for short – because it owes everything for its inspiration and guidance to the workings of Nature and the organisation of its ecosystems.
If the mass of scientific evidence is to be believed, it is no exaggeration to say that we are at last chance saloon; that unless the world gets its act together right now it faces an era of despair and decline. But I believe that it is not too late to turn it instead into one of hope and rejuvenation.
Junglenomics shows how we can all play our part in this 21st century Renaissance. By better understanding ourselves and our place in Nature, Junglenomics shows how our generation can yet grasp its fortunes and do something heroic to rescue our declining planet both for ourselves and for our children, far into the future.

Junglenomics – Nature’s solutions to the world environment crisis: A new economic paradigm for the twenty-first century and beyond. Part 1 – the Background

It is rare for any book to combine natural science with economics, but I
have brought these ostensibly disparate subjects together in my book, Junglenomics, because I believe I have something new and important to say about their relationship, and about how the consequences of that relationship profoundly impinge upon all our lives.

This book proposes a new theory – that Life is essentially a colonising
entity and that consequently many of its mechanisms have evolved
specifically to provide greater efficiency in the colonisation of the
Earth’s resources. It tells the story of a journey into the depths of
the evolutionary process in search of evidence of this impulse to
colonise, and goes on to explore its consequences in evolution, in human
development, and most importantly in our modern economic world.

Although it was not always so, it is these days extremely unusual for a
non-academic writer like myself to enter arenas that have become the almost exclusive
preserve of academics; although some unqualified science and ecology
writers do sometimes make significant contributions, I think it is fair
to say that new ideas of any great consequence are no longer expected
from any other quarter. However I have always been intrigued by the big
questions of evolution, nature and human nature, and my instinct has
always been to look behind the scene – to search for answers at a deeper
level. The germ for this book arose because, although a firm follower of
Charles Darwin’s sublime explanation of evolution through variation and
natural selection, I was never satisfied of its completeness. Despite
subsequent expansion on the great man’s original theme in the light of
new knowledge I was convinced that there was still important ‘dark
matter’ in the evolutionary process yet to be uncovered. My particular
focus was on catalysts of evolutionary change and how they might
accelerate evolution.

Following an extraordinary maritime adventure Darwin, an amateur
naturalist, allowed free rein to his intellect and imagination
concerning the observable workings of nature unrestrained by the
orthodoxy of his day. Likewise untrammelled and free to take an oblique
view, some two decades ago I followed my own polar star and set out
alone in search of an unrecognised power source of evolution.
Eventually, incredibly, I believe I found it, in the form of a universal
colonisation imperative, and this transformed my perception, not just of
evolution, but also the very nature of Life.

The journey didn’t end there though. This new understanding of
evolution, and with it of human social and economic development, now
also opened a fresh and revealing window onto some of the major
unresolved issues of our day, in particular concerning our reckless
treatment of the natural environment. I had long been profoundly
disturbed by the remorseless decline of the world’s ecosystems and the
accompanying loss of species. I feared for the grim legacy of burned out
environments we are leaving future generations to endure. As I watched
the distressing degradation of our planet unfold I felt ever more
helpless and frustrated at the world’s impotence to arrest it despite so
many valiant efforts to do so. It was to me a profound mystery that we
continue to destroy our environment against our better judgement – even
against our collective will. Two paradoxes characterize this: the first
is that, despite an environmental movement that has never been more
sophisticated, well-financed and influential, the world environment
continues to decline year on year. The second is that while so many
people express concern for Nature, they themselves continue to destroy it.

I decided to try to understand what was going on from an evolutionary
standpoint. I wanted above all to find meaning behind this destructive
phenomenon and our continuing failure to control it. Thus I began to
look into the issues surrounding the decline of the natural world in the
face of today’s onslaught from economic hyperactivity within the context
of the colonisation imperative.

This book thus provides a new perspective on evolution and links it to
the anthropological reasons behind our environmental failings. I believe
this perspective could help the formulation of a blueprint to manage our
threatened planet a great deal better, not only for the immediate but
also for the long term future. It therefore makes essential reading for
those interested or involved in conservation, evolution, anthropology
and economics, but especially for those upon whose future decisions the
world environment relies.

The issues explored in these pages are fundamental ones that I believe
anyone with an intelligent, inquiring mind will be stirred by. The ideas
presented are big, bold and ambitious, certainly, but they are firmly
built upon first principles of evolution, anthropology and market
economics. I believe passionately in them and in the vision they offer
to help build a safer future for generations to come.

Author’s note: this preface serves by way of an icebreaker for future blogs on this website. Junglenomics is a completed book and I am at the moment awaiting responses from various publishers. Harper Collins has expressed considerable interest, but there are no guarantees. I will report on progress, and on the possible eventual need to use a private pubishing platform – ie I will self-publish if necesary.

I will be writing on this and related subjects here and printing extracts from the book over the coming weeks and months. I invite constructive comments. my knowledge of blogging is at a fledgling stage so please bear with me as I explore the possibilities.