Featured Book Excerpt

Featured Book Excerpt

From Critical Path
by Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster Fuller, Jr. was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on the 12th of July 1895. He introduced ground-breaking ideas into the fields of architecture, design, art, engineering, cartography and mathematics and became known as "the planet's friendly genius." Fuller called himself a "Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Scientist" and committed his life to finding global strategies for making humankind "a success in the universe." He believed that human evolution could best be promoted by reforming the living environment through design on all levels rather than by reforming people through economics and/or politics.

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It is now possible to give every man, woman and child on Earth a standard of living comparable to that of a modern-day billionaire.

This is not an opinion or a hope -- it is an engineeringly demonstrable fact. This can be done using only the already proven technology and with the already mined, refined, and in-recirculating physical resources.

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This will be an inherently sustainable physical success for all humanity and all its generations to come. It can be accomplished not only within ten years but with the phasing out forever of all use of fossil fuels and atomic energy. Our technological strategy makes it incontrevertible that we can live luxuriously entirely on our daily Sun-radiation-and-gravity-produced income energy. The quantity of physical, cosmic energy wealth as radiation arriving aboard planet Earth each minute is greater than all the energy used annually by all humanity. World Game makes it eminently clear that we have four billion billionaires aboard our planet, as accounted by real wealth , which fact is obscured from public knowledge by the exclusively conceived and operated money game and its monopolized credit system accounting.

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We find all the no-life-support-wealth-producing people going to their 1980s jobs in their cars and buses, spending trillions of dollars' worth of petroleum daily to get to their no-wealth-producing jobs. It doesn't take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home.

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Ephemeralisation - humanity learning to do more with less

As a long-time student of foreign investment I saw a pattern developing. Between 1938 and 1940 I was on the editorial staff of Fortune magazine as its science and technology consultant, and my researchers harvested all the statistics for Fortune's tenth-anniversary issue, "USA and the World." In that issue I uncovered and was able to prove several new socioeconomic facts -- for the first time in the history of industrial economics:

  1. the economic health of the American -- or any industrial -- economy was no longer disclosed (as in the past) by the total tonnage of its product output, but by the amount of electrical energy generated by that activity; tonnage had ceased to be the criterion because

  2. we were doing so much more given work with so much less pounds of materials, ergs of energy, and seconds of time per given function as to occasion ever newer, lighter, and stronger metallic alloys, chemicals, and electronics.

Though at that time universally used as the number-one guide to the state of economic health of any world nation, tonnage no longer represented prosperity. The amount of energy being electrically generated and consumed became the most sensitive telltale of economic health....

There is not a chapter in any book in economics anywhere about doing more with less. Economists traditionally try to maximize what you have, but the idea that you could go from wire to wireless or from visible structuring to invisible alloy structuring did not occur to them at all. It was outside their point of view -- beyond their range of vision. Economists are specialists trained to look only at one particular thing.

In my Shelter magazine of 1930-33 and in my 1938 book Nine Chains to the Moon, I identified this progressive doing-more-with-less as ephemeralization. Though Fortune magazine also published my 1922 concept of ephemeralization in its tenth-anniversary issue of 1940 in a prominent manner, and despite ephemeralization having subsequently wrought epochal advancements in the standard of living for two billion previously deprived humans, ephemeralization is a phenomenon that in 1980 is as yet largely unknown to or overlooked by the world's professional economists. Nonetheless, the combination of accelerating acceleration and ephemeralization has now elevated 60 percent of all humanity from its year-1900 99-percent poverty level into realization of an everyday standard of living superior to that enjoyed by any kings, tycoons, or other power-commanding humans prior to the twentieth century.

From Critical Path, Buckminster Fuller, 1982.

"Fuller's point in Critical Path was that even many of those gainfully employed are doing nothing very vital to the creation of sustainable life support systems. Market pricing is just the tip of the iceberg of a system of pushes and pulls. At the far end of the cheap jeans is the barrel of a gun, pointed at people who cannot prove legal tenure to the land their ancestors farmed for generations. The prices we pay have a lot of brute force behind them, not just self-interested parties freely making choices. Making cash scarce to keep it valuable, by making those who have it fear the miserable state of those who do not, is a coercive system, not a freedom-loving one."

- Kirby Urner, in the R. Buckminster Fuller FAQ

You can find out more about Bucky Fuller at the following sites:

Buckminster Fuller Institute

Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute


Buckminster Fuller Dome Seeks Donor

(Current owner of Bucky's Carbondale Illinois dome seeks buyer to make it a Memorial Park for Bucky and his wife Anne.)