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The Guiding Force

"I cannot believe the changes that have taken place in the world since my childhood during the 1960's, to today in the year 2042. I'm 82 years old, yet feel like 22; and no I'm not George Burns or Dick Clark. The technological advance and environmental quality of the Twenty-First Century have revolutionized the way we live, and age, compared to the Dark Ages of the later Twentieth Century. . . . Oh, I almost forgot that you have been in cryonic suspension since 1992 and do not know of these things--well, sit back and listen, Mr. McHarg, and I will illuminate the events that shaped the global renaissance.

"The decades of environmental neglect and destruction of the 1970's, 80's, and 90's led by so-called 'Environmental Presidents' of the United States shaped global environmental policy to the brink of disaster. New technology was created during this period to exploit and destroy our global resources. Our rain forests, wetlands, oceans, deserts, plains and mountains were disappearing before our eyes. The sky was no longer blue, but filled with a noxious grey brown haze of smog. Mortality rates increased and life expectancy drastically decreased due to environmental pollution and decay. Yes, my friend, all of the predications and nightmares outlined in your book Design with Nature (1969) came true in the 1990's. . . .

"Please, Ian, do not cry, but look up at the sky and tell me what you see now. . . . That's right! Blue Sky! 'nothing but blue cry do you see' (Willie Nelson, 1970). . . . You ask what events brought back this remarkable rebirth of our planet? Relax and listen, and I will tell you of the remarkable renaissance of our environment.

"After your cryonic suspension in 1992, your grandson Ian McHarg, Jr. emerged from reclusion in Scotland to begin to form the Environmental Renaissance Party (ERP). He began to form a consensus throughout the world of increased environmental awareness, until his arrest in 1993 for treason by United States President Quayle. Your grandson exposed the environmental strafing policies of the United States, in a press conference on the White House lawn, which incited the crowd of 200,000 to storm the White House and accidently trample President Bush and a Congressional page to death while they were sleeping on the Oval Office floor. Special prosecutor General Oliver North sentenced Young Ian to life imprisonment for his crime.

"While in prison, Young Ian distributed his writings on environmental revolution through the underground Electronic News Network (ENN) under the pen name FLO, in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted. We no longer waste paper to distribute news items; news is now distributed electronically by computer link with every human being in the world. ENN is owned by Ted Fonda, the Twenty-First Century information system tycoon, and founding member of the ERP. These writings exposed the environmental destruction and toxic waste dumping practices of the major corporations and governments of the world. Through these writings the Environmental Renaissance Party was formed as a global movement. However, in spite of these efforts environmental decay increased through the 1990's as governments around the world imprisoned all known members of the ERP, forcing the movement underground, literally. This period of history is now referred to as the Dark Ages of the Twentieth Century.

"One of those imprisoned in the Dark Ages was the father of clean energy, Dr. Strangelove, a University of Texas at Arlington physics professor. In 1995, Dr. Strangelove invented a process that converts waste products and contaminants into fuel to power all human support systems, through a superconducting heat process that has no waste by-products. Imprisoned by President Quayle and the inquisition for threatening the economic base of the American Petrochemical Cartel, our nation's largest employer at the time, Dr. Stangelove was banished to the same prison as Ian, Jr.

"In 1999, a strange and magnificent event occurred that began the rebirth of our planet. At the National Convention celebrating the 100th year of the American Society of Landscape Architects, a single speaker inspired this dormant group into action. That speaker was Ian McHarg, Jr., who escaped from prison along with Dr. Strangelove, with the help of the ERP, to deliver a message of epic proportions. Young Ian began his presentation with a look back to the early Twentieth Century to illuminate the beginnings of our destruction.

"Young Ian named the repression of Dr. Strangelove's revolutionary clean energy process that could release society from bondage to the very petrochemicals which had destroyed its environment as the epitome of governmental ambivalence toward our environment. Ian reasoned that if energy products were non-polluting we could restore and replenish our damaged ecosystem in time to save the planet. He called on Landscape Architects as "stewards of the land" to take the proactive lead in the environmental revolution . . . the revolution fathered by Ian McHarg, Jr.

"The revolution gained momentum in late 1999 when all sitting members of Congress and President Quayle were impeached and sentenced to live on Three Mile Island for the rest of their short lives. Ian was then elected as Prime Minister of the newly formed Commonwealth of the Americas, including Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico. His election marked the beginning of the global renaissance.

"So, you see Ian, the past could have ended in environmental collapse and human demise, but Young Ian has led the world to the environmental rebirth and prosperity that we see today. That rebirth is what we call the global renaissance. . . .

"That's right, I have not told you about the present, or the future for that matter. Along with the technological advances in the physical environment, advances in the capacity of the human mind linked with computers has revolutionized the way we experience life. A system known as virtual reality, similar to the 1990 movie Total Recall, which transfers the thoughts of the mind into another dimension. Through this new dimension, we may travel through the present without leaving the comfort of the Virtual Reality Laboratory (VRL) in the adjoining room. Would you like to try it, or would you prefer to travel by hovercraft? . . . No, Ian, this in not the same design of hovercraft from World War II, but a form of high-speed, low-altitude jet mobile, sort of like in the Jetsons television show of the 1960's. So, you say you would like to experience both modes of transportation, VRL and hovercraft. All in due time, but first let's step into the VRL and begin our journey.

"Sit down in that chair, strap on the headset and gently sip the intoxicating Soma liquid. Our first stop will be to the capitol of our Commonwealth in Chichen Itza, Mexico, where we will explore the cultural heritage of our people. . . . Yes, that's the same Chichen Itza of ancient Mayan civilization. The Mayan and Native American people revered the land in the same manner that we do today. The secrets of the ancient people are the foundation of the cultural and environmental ethic of our society. Rather than "In God We Trust," our society's creed is "The Land and the People are One." If the land is ill and polluted, so will be the people. This pathological relationship was first explored in your book Design with Nature in the study area of the eastern seaboard of the United States. The ERP utilized your book and the environmental ethics of the Native Americans and Mayans to formulate the goals, objectives and policies of the Commonwealth of the Americas. . . . Yes, that is the new capitol located within the castillo of Chichen Itza. Our new society utilized all of the existing built environments rather than tearing them down and building new structures. Adaptive reuse of existing facilities has saved an infinite number of natural resources and prevented further environmental degradation. The culture of the native people of the Commonwealth is the guiding force in our society today. . . . Yes, Ian, society has begun to actually design with nature, rather than against it. . . . Here, wipe those tears of joy from your face with this cloth.

"Our next stop will be the Commonwealth's first clean energy facility located in the former Pentagon. The Pentagon was closed as a military facility in the year 2000 when Prime Minister McHarg and the other world leaders signed the Total Global Disarmament Treaty of 2000, which totally eliminated all weapons and military activity throughout the world. All military weaponry was then stockpiled at the Pentagon for conversion into clean energy fuel. The shape of the Pentagon served well for the construction of the superconducting circular tunnel that processes waste product into energy. Would you like to enter the tunnel through virtual reality?. . . OK, but we will have to exit the tunnel just before the atoms collide. Here we go, speed increasing to mach one . . . two. . .three . . . ("we're giving her all she's got, Captain Kirk") mach ten . . . let's exit before the collision. . . . Yes, that was Dr. Strangelove's revolutionary invention of clean energy. Once this invention was presented to the people of the world, the American Petrochemical Cartel and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries were disbanded, and their members banished to the Chernobel penal colony for international environmental law offenders. Oil is no longer extracted from the ground or dispersed into our air. Fifty years ago, if I had told you this would be, you would have thought I was crazy.

"Now, we will travel through the National Parks System of the Commonwealth. In this system of parks, all mountaintops, creeks, rivers, and coastlines are restored to their natural states as resources for future generations. I know this is a drastic departure from the Bush/Quayle administration policy of logging, mining and exploitation of our national parks, yet it is a return to the original goal of our national parks as a preserve for future generations. These parks are now prohibited to humans, with the exception of virtual reality interaction and registered hovercraft explorations, which do not impact the delicate ecosystems within the park system. All development has been removed and prohibited within 50 miles of the Pacific, Gulf, Caribbean and Atlantic coastlines which allows these vital natural bios to function once again. Through virtual reality we can experience the forest from the perspective of the bear, the ocean from the perspective of the dolphin, and we can fly the sky like an eagle . . . by walking in the footsteps of the animals in the same way that they do, we strengthen the linkage between man and nature. Such an experience takes your breath away, doesn't it?. . .

"And now we will travel to Ecotown, the largest city of the Commonwealth. Ecotown is a new city designed in harmony with nature by the prestigious UTA Urban Design Laboratory. Ecotown has a population of two million people, and a land area of 500,000 acres, and a total density of 4 units per acre; however, the actual density of population is substantially higher. All structures are clustered into neighborhood unit pods elevated by hover systems above the surface for minimal environmental impact, which allows for undisturbed natural soil and drainage watersheds to coexist with humanity. . . . Yes, it is designed based on the Neighborhood Unit concept fostered by Clarence Perry in 1929, but with Twenty-First Century technology for minimal environmental impact and maximum quality of life. We had the answers to our societal problems in the Twentieth Century, yet government repression prohibited their implementation. A sad commentary on Twentieth Century values, yet true.

"And now for the final part of our journey aboard a hovercraft from the VRL to the capitol of the Commonwealth to reunite you with the Prime Minister . . . I mean, your grandson, Ian McHarg, Jr. The design of the hovercraft was perfected by Dr. Strangelove's assistant Dr. Zavago, as a method to eliminate the pollution created by automobile tire particles onto roadways and eventually into streams. The hovercraft eliminated the need for freeways and roadways and the environmental detriment associated with them. The elimination of roadway networks and their phenomenal public cost freed these funds for medical research into the remaining Twentieth Century plagues of Cancer and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Research found cures for these plagues in the ancient hieroglyphics on the walls of Native American and Mayan ruins which depicted medicinal herbs and plants as the answer. The distilled liquid of the sea grape found in the Yucatan Peninsula provided the cure to the environmentally caused plagues of the Twentieth Century. Further research indicated that the majority of societal adverse health effects during the Twentieth Century were caused by environmental pollution and degradation. With these plagues out of the way, society was able to concentrate on improving the quality of life on our planet. Enough about the ills of the past . . . let's get on to our journey.

"We will journey down the Mississippi River, across the Gulf of Mexico and Carribean, to the Yucatan Peninsula inland to Chichen Itza. Along the way, we will skim inches above the crystalline blue water's surface, pausing periodically to drink the natural ambrosia of the clean water. . . . Now, after such a visually intoxicating trip, it is my extreme pleasure to introduce Ian McHarg to our Prime Minister Ian McHarg Jr. At last, we have reunited the father of the environmental revolution with the Twentieth Century visionary whose writings formed the early foundation of life as we know it in 2042."


References which served as the basis to speculate on life in the future, even though they were not noted in the text:

Benedikt, Michael. Cyberspace First Steps, MIT Press, 1991.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World.

Lindsay, George. A Voyage to Arcturus, Citadel Press, 1946.

McHarg, Ian L. Design With Nature, Natural History Press, 1969.

Mumford, Lewis. The City in History, Harcourt Brace & World, Inc., 1961.

Nelson, Willie. "Blue Skies," Stardust, 1970.

Trancik, Roger. Finding Lost Space, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1986.

Note from the Editor: It is easy to imagine the unstated comments and questions of the fictional IanMcHarg in this narrative tour of the future. But this reader would very much like to have heard his voice in this vision and invites

Mr. McHarg, health permitting, to comment on the concept of a global renaissance that evolves from his philosophies.

Suggested images for a BP-created illustration:

Nature With Design, 25th Anniversary Edition--book cover

Seattle Space Needle, other space-age designs per G.S.

Chichen Itza

Aerial or view or coast al Brazil from the sea (undeveloped mangrove coasts are similar to restored parks described)

re: cryonics- glacier or ice formation images

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June 18, 2019, 7:00 am PDT

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