7.1 Life in Time and Space--Defining the Biospace

Every life form occupies a unique niche in the context of all life on earth. This niche can be expressed in terms of the physical space that it requires to make or gather food and also in terms of relationships with other life forms with similar agendas. Human life, however much it might be considered as different from other forms, is also lived out in such a context. It draws sustenance in the form of clothing, shelter, and food from other forms of life and cannot exist without the support of the plants and animals with which it shares the earth. The whole of the environment is a complex network of dependencies of one form of life upon another, and it is now understood that no part can be changed without having an effect on the rest. This is by no means a concept new to the information age, though it has not been an important paradigm of the industrial one. Such an idea was expressed by the Elizabethans as the "chain of being." It is the principle of interdependence again, this time expressed as:

Every life form depends on every other life form.
Every habitat has to be shared.

Likewise, human life is lived out over a span of years, and this implies a certain balance in the relationship of people to each other and to the environment. The passing of the years has been counted upon to supply a steady stream of new people with new ideas, to be the new consumers and the new leaders. If a society does not grow in size and power by increasing in absolute numbers, the inexorable passage of time will at the very least by the cycle of birth, life, sickness, and death ensure some measure of renewal in that society. One characteristic of modern medicine has been a great increase in the number of years lived by the average human being, and there is some prospect of further gains. Of course, such changes in life span produce profound side-effects--and not just in the population or society where they take place, but through the rest of the chain of related societies and life forms.

It is the combination of life in both space and time that can be expressed as biospace, specifically:

The niche occupied by human life in space and time together is called the human biospace.

With each of the earlier transitions to a new society, the interrelationships among humans changed (in some cases dramatically), and this is now happening again. The purpose of this chapter is to consider the aspects of the continuing scientific and technological revolution that directly affect the living of human life itself--that is, medical, environmental, and living space concerns. These issues are multifaceted and complex. It could be argued that they are all somewhat independent of one another and that several chapters are required to do them justice. That they are here collected into one is precisely because there is a unifying theme--all relate to how many people will live, where they will live, and what quality of life they will enjoy in the Fourth Civilization.

The Fourth Civilization Table of Contents
Copyright © 1988-2002 by Rick Sutcliffe
Published by Arjay Books division of Arjay Enterprises