At 18 I chanced to see a new book at the library of the community college I went to. It was Environment, Power, and Society by Howard T. Odum 1971. I checked it out, read it, and, though a poor student living in the back of a 1954 Ford pickup in a shell I built, I did something I had never done, nor would for many years. I went to the college bookstore and ordered a copy. I recognized Odum's science, if correct, if it was a better view, was a paradigm shift in thinking about the nature of things. In hindsight I realize my mind was transformed in such a way that I would live and die outside the many domains of discourse others live memetically in.
Of course I don't know anything others don't know, and merely a fraction of a percent of what humans could claim to maybe know. Yet to be numerate, how many others are there within my domain of discourse? I would guess maybe 0.001% think in terms of systems, but I'm probably being wildly over optimistic. They exist, but in terms of the set of all humans I've met and communicated with, who have time to communicate (within limits) with me, I can count the total on one hand.
After three years of community college, taking up to 21 units a semester and sitting in on other classes, I decided to just feed directly from the trough of the written word and spent seven years, about 9-10 months and 12 hours a day, wandering the stacks of the nine-story library of the University of California, Santa Barbara, open until 11pm daily. I would wander off several times a day to sit in an abandoned lifeguard tower on the campus beach, or take in a student recital, play, or guest lecture. Garrett Harden spoke informally with students at a dormitory lounge, but I dropped by too, and that was the closest I got to anyone who shared my concerns.
I eventually went to the state university at San Louis Obispo for three years on my own dime earned doing migrate farm labor during the summers, which was most educational. I learned enough to know that as an agricultural expert (industrial agribusiness) I had nothing to offer a sustainable world. So I didn't.
If there had been an 'agroecology' program (that I knew of) I would have been tempted, but my understanding of agroecosystems was not energy-blind, seemingly a prerequisite for all alternative to conventional forms of agricultural science (e.g. organic, permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, biochar...). So if I had done the graduate student thing in agroecology, I would have come to depart from that domain of discourse too as I'm something of an Odumite and I can't do the energese illiterate thing. My only regret is that it never occurred to me to go the University of Florida and find excuses for taking classes from H.T. Odum when I could have.
I kept taking in information, as the decades passed. Some follow sports. I followed science, and I never met a silo science I didn't like. And there is philosophy, math, world literature, religion, history and the like. But to connect the dots, I assumed all were interconnected and thinking in systems was implied, so I did. The end result is I have no tribal affiliation, no politics nor religion too. I don't care what other people think, unless they are offering to correct me, but no one bothers as I'm obviously a know-nothing who doesn't get it, who can't speak their domain of discourse. I am one who, if asked 'whose lives matter?' can't come up with the correct answer.
POVs happen and I seem to have one:
Basically humanity got the 'Houston, we have a problem' message by 1980 when Catton published 'Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change' summarizing the prior three decades of what Nature was telling those who listen about the human problematique. Meanwhile the pace of planetary destruction has not slowed. No point in repeating the 'we have a problem' meme. The next step for those having astronaut concerns, soon after a bit more information of what the problem was, was for NASA scientists and engineers to come up with a short list of viable solutions and pick one, then make it so. Doing so now would be adaptive, perhaps enabling humanity to be not only an adaptive dissipative system, but an evolvable one as well. Asking politicians for 'solutions' or religious leaders to pray for the astronauts would have ensured their death as it will for most humans currently feeding from the trough of industrial society. [And sorry about that in advance.]
“Thought makes the whole dignity [potential value] of man; therefore endeavor to think well, that is the only morality.”
— Blaise Pascal
Humans are the only animal who could detect an incoming planetesimal impact (or other threats) that would destroy all multicellular life on Earth and deflect it. We could evolve into beings that are to Earth as our brains are to our bodies. Or we will keep on keeping on and go extinct, taking perhaps all vertebrate life down the rabbit hole with us.