Edgar D. Mitchell’s Noetic Vision: The Greening of Cosmos and Consciousness
By Dave Roberts, managing editor, Journal of Parapsychology

On July 16, Sally Rhine Feather welcomed former astronaut Edgar Mitchell back to the Rhine Center for the first time since 1971, when her father invited him to speak about the telepathy experiment he had done unofficially while on a mission to the moon. “No one has repeated that experiment,” she quipped.

Mitchell told the sellout crowd at Stedman Auditorium that the experiment showed ESP worked from 240,000 miles away just as it did in the laboratory. While in space, he also experienced an epiphany that later led him to establish the Institute of Noetic Sciences. With an awe-inspiring photo of the earth projected behind him, he recalled astronomer Fred Hoyle’s prediction: “When we get our first picture of the earth from space, life will never be the same again.”

Then he began a stunning description of the massive problems that make our current way of life unsustainable. “We’re at a tipping point,” he warned. Unless drastic changes are made, “it’s not pay now or pay later … there won’t be a later!” These problems include:

  1. World population growth—from 6.5 billion in 2009 to an estimated 9 billion by 2050. World hunger and malnutrition, which declined in the late 20th century but bottomed out at 825 million people in the 1990s and began increasing to over 1 billion in 2009 and an estimated 1.2 billion by 2015.
  2. Soaring food prices—world grain and soybean prices tripled from mid-2006 to mid-2008, easing only with the global economic crisis and remaining above historical levels. The poorest people spend 50-70% of their income on food.
  3. Cattle production, which has increased fivefold in the last 50 years, placing huge demands on the water supply and accelerating the clearing of rain forests.
  4. Political unrest caused by the lack of jobs, poor education, and lower living standards.
  5. Global climate change, driven largely by an increase in carbon dioxide levels from 277 to 387 parts per million; in 2008, 7.9 billion tons of carbon were emitted from burning fossil fuels and another 1.5 billion from burning forests.
  6. Rapidly disappearing mountain glaciers that sustain the major rivers of Asia, which could cause those rivers to become seasonal, slashing the production of wheat and rice.
  7. Accelerated melting of polar icecaps, resulting in rising sea levels that threaten to inundate coastal areas, and also reducing the amount of the sun’s heat that is reflected back into space, further increasing global temperatures.
  8. Water shortages: world water use tripled between 1950 and 2000, 70% of it for irrigation, causing water tables to fall and wells to go dry, increasing food scarcity; Saudi Arabia, which has been self-sufficient in wheat production, will have to phase it out by 2016.
  9. Pollution of fresh and ocean waters, damaging coral reefs and breeding places for fish.
  10. Reduced petroleum production: since 1981, the amount of oil extracted has exceeded the amount of newly discovered oil by an ever-widening margin.
  11. Air pollution, which has increased many human illnesses; also, since 1989, the amount of free oxygen in the atmosphere has decreased, largely due to forest burning.
  12. Growth of the Greenhouse Effect, not only from carbon emissions but from the possible future release of methane now trapped in permafrost and at the bottom of the sea; methane is 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
Mitchell termed the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico “a case study in non-sustainability—profit motive, the lack of corporate interest in the environmental and social impact, no R&D expenses allocated to disaster recovery contingencies or planning.”

To solve these problems and create a sustainable way of life, Mitchell said, we must change our “consumption-based, throwaway civilization.” Possible solutions include:
  1. A transformation in consciousness leading to the realization that “we are all interconnected.”
  2. Taking personal responsibility with decisions on questions such as “how many TV’s per household are enough?”
  3. More civic responsibility by corporations (though he has seen less recently), including longer-term focus and a reduction of planned obsolescence.
“It’s time to move beyond education and awareness,” he added. “We need a Manhattan Project for implementing environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions.” A “green civilization” would require an economy in which the price of all goods and services would be based on their total impact on the environment. All public and private sectors of the economy would have to move from a growth-oriented to a sustainable mentality. What can we as individuals do to promote this vision? Mitchell said we should educate ourselves on the issues, spread the word about them on the Internet and through letters to the editor, and get politically involved. Above all, we must take action. “It’s up to us,” he concluded. “We’re facing the problem of reshaping the planet. If we take no action, we will not survive.”
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Volume 3, Issue 1, 2011