“I’ve often heard people say: ‘I wonder what it would feel like to be on board a spaceship,’ and the answer is very simple. What does it feel like? That’s all we have ever experienced. We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
First published in 1969, “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” is one of Richard Buckminster Fuller’s most popular works and a brilliant synthesis of his world view. In this very accessible volume, he investigates the great challenges facing humanity. Fuller questions the concept of specialization, calls for a design revolution of innovation, and offers advice on how to guide “spaceship earth” toward a sustainable future.
After spending the night in the GEODOME I understood Buckminster Fuller better. It was not just a lecture from our professor, it was an experience:
“And our spaceship is so superbly designed as to be able to keep life regenerating on board despite the phenomenon, entropy, by which all local physical systems lose energy. So we have to obtain all biological life generating energy from another spaceship – the Sun.” R. Buckminster Fuller
What is Spaceship Earth?
Bucky was fond of making up phrases when he felt that ordinary words did not express what he meant to say. He coined the phrase “Spaceship Earth” to describe our planet. He felt that all human beings were passengers on Spaceship Earth, and, like the crew of a large ship, people had to work together in order to keep the planet functioning properly. Bucky concerned himself with humanity at large, and took a big-picture view of the world and its problems. He circled the globe many times, speaking to people at universities and public institutions around the world and trying to convince them that technology could help to better the lives of many people on planet Earth. In his 1983 book, Grunch of Giants, Bucky wrote, “I do know that technologically humanity now has the opportunity, for the first time in its history, to operate our planet in such a manner as to support and accommodate all humanity at a substantially more advanced standard of living than any humans have ever experienced.” Bucky hoped that some day the resources of the planet would be equitably divided, and people all around the world would achieve a high standard of living with access to technologically-advanced housing and transportation. Through his speeches and lecture, Bucky tried to convince people to take the initiative to develop comprehensive design science thinking to begin to address global problems such as poverty, inadequate housing, and unequal distribution of resources. For this reason, many people have called Bucky Fuller a “visionary” who inspired others to think globally.