About Amateur Earthling


  1. A lover of something. (archaic).
  2. A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science as to music or painting; esp. one who cultivates any study or art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it professionally.
  3. Someone who is unqualified or insufficiently skillful.


  1. An inhabitant of the planet Earth.

This blog is my personal exploration of what I consider the adolescence of our species. We stopped being animals 50,000 years ago when the rate of technological change began its upward exponential drift, but genetically, we are still creatures of the Pleistocene, and our cultural institutions have made little progress since the city states and empires of antiquity.  In contrast, technologically we have become as gods.  This combination seems to me unstable, and likely to endanger the continuity of our history, and the existence of most of the other creatures with whom we share the Earth.  We knew once how to live on this world as animals; we don’t yet know how to live here as gods, and we need to figure it out fast.

In the fullness of time, it’s my hope that we will become agents facilitating the universe’s deep, persistent, and joyful understanding of itself, but we cannot do that without ourselves persisting in some form, and so at the moment I am most focused on issues of sustainability.

About Zane Selvans

I’m a scientist and a cyclist. A bright green libertarian.  A natural pantheist.  A paranoid optimist. An amateur earthling.  If we’re lucky, we just might make it.

I grew up California’s San Joaquin valley, in the farming town of Sanger, next to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, and if I had to pledge allegiance to some jurisdiction smaller than Earth, it would probably be California, even though I recently finished my PhD in planetary geophysics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For the time being, I am voluntarily unemployed, working and playing on my own time, doing bicycle advocacy, and some extended self-education in scientific computing, and the more informational side of bioinformatics and synthetic biology, as well as design, modeling, and construction techniques for passive buildings that heat, cool, ventilate and illuminate themselves.   I’m also into urban design that focuses on non-motorized transportation, livable density, community, and efficient material resource use.  I’m also interested in the development of software facilitating cooperative social organization, transparency and accountability, especially at the scale of cities or smaller.