Rearranging Solar Systems

And Other To-Do’s

B. Lorraine Smith
6 min readMar 19, 2017


Mindset A: Vast expanse of twilit industrial monocrops. Mindset B: Signal of our capacity to shape natural systems. / © B.L. Smith 2017 (Somewhere over Nebraska)

I can only imagine how people first reacted to Copernicus when he claimed the Earth revolves around the sun. Heliocentric? Pff! What’s with this guy?

It turns out that assimilating new evidence and realigning one’s fundamental beliefs is difficult for most people. Yet it’s becoming apparent to me that our ability to shift worldviews when presented with new data is essential to solving society’s biggest challenges.

I find it both helpful and disturbing to note that long before Copernicus tried to hack through the briar patch of firmly held beliefs seeded in flatly wrong ideas, the Greeks — as early as 300BC — had already surmised that the Earth revolved around the sun. It took almost two millennia for the idea to come back around, and even then it was slow to dawn on wider society (i.e. 100 years slow). Even with the plain and simple facts in hand, Copernicus, and then Galileo about a century later, both suffered serious negative consequences for promoting this idea before it finally came to be understood, to be believed. Squint into this reality for just a moment: respected scholars had the facts of heliocentricity — an observable natural phenomenon — for almost two thousand years before this concept was “accepted”.

Recently, two of my own interconnected “personal solar systems” have been given a good shuffle, testing my understanding of what revolves around what. Things I thought I understood — things I believed — about how to confront big issues are now being reorganized at a Copernican order of magnitude. However, I am not sure we have another two thousand years to get to the other side of this paradigm shuffle.

From “Carbon-Free” to “Carbon-Free-For-All”

For instance, it seems the call for a “low-carbon economy” (something I myself have called for many times…) doesn’t in fact make sense according to Mother Nature, who has been managing a natural carbon cycle since long before we came along with just about the same amount of carbon now as before. This cycle has been enabling the existence and survival of every form of life for millions of years — including the Johnny-come-lately known as homo sapiens.

With this in mind, we don’t want to reduce the amount of carbon, or “decarbonize” the economy…



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B. Lorraine Smith

Recovering ESG "expert"; yarn spinner; distance runner; magical realist. Sensing a path to an economy serving life. also at