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Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
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Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  669 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In this essay Fuller expresses what may well be his penultimate view of the human condition. Here, in a mood at once philosophical & involved, he traces humanity's intellectual evolution & weighs its capability for survival on this magnificent craft, this Spaceship Earth, this superbly designed sphere of almost negligible dimension in the great vastness of space. H ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published October 1st 1969 by Touchstone (NY) (first published 1969)
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What, forty-four years on, is the future of Spaceship Earth? Ol' Bucky does, to his credit, grasp some essential truths about our environmental position. We have limited resources, we consume too much too fast, and we have no organized means of managing them for our future survival. Hence something must be done. This idea rightfully endures.

I must, however, disagree with his future characterization of the earth as a spaceship - that would imply some military hierarchy, international cooperative
This is a classic, published in 1969, first read by me back in 1970 or 1971, when we thought we would soon experience either the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius or, alternately, the Eve of Destruction. Definitely Utopian, still visionary, and in some ways quite wrong, Fuller makes interesting reading even now, 40 years later and 26 years after his death in 1983. One important area in which Fuller has turned out to have been wrong was his prediction that global population would stabilize at the th ...more
Tim Pendry
I came to this 1969 cult 'classic' in the fervent hope that it might allow me, finally, to 'get' modern environmentalism for which this is a seminal text.

Part of my subsequent lack of enthusiasm is down to style. There is no doubt that Buckminster Fuller was a genius of sorts - at least as an engineer, planner and technologist - but he writes like a 'speak your weight' machine with a propensity for creating neologistic compound words that would put German philosophy to shame.

Far from inspiring,
Afrah Mohammad
It's not a perfect book, but it is a necessary one. Essentially it's a compact antithesis to the specious philosophy of pseudo-individualism that overwhelmingly prevails today. Fuller definitely overextended and exaggerated a few generalizations about world history and specialization to make his theory about synergy more unified, but I think part of the exaggeration also has to do with him having to present a very urgent and complex thesis in a short space of paper. For example, I don't think Fu ...more
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth is a fascinating combination of Fuller's deep scientific grounding and his philosophical and metaphysical way of looking at the world. The main thesis of the book is that humanity has been too shortsighted and siloed in its thinking and, as a result, we have lost the ability to s
Joe Ball
World economics have been based on false values- as all the gold in the world cannot possibly help to sustain life on our planet! Acclaimed author/inventor/architect Buckminster Fuller reviews the irreducible facts of physics, the fallacy of governments, and an introduction to systems theory.

I really wanted to like this book. But I found that Bucky's arguments were let down by his style of writing. He has lots of clever, relevant points but they're drowned out in his weird, 'comprehensive' perspective where he keeps going on about universe in a way that seems completely irrelevant to the operating issues at hand.

It is a fascinating document, considering it was written in 1968 and doesn't seem that dated. I would have liked a little less background and a lot more focus on the actual
Although it's not a manual it points to the real manual: yourself. The book is clearly a manifest of world centric perspective showing the need to not exploit the planet but rather value it and play. By valuing the planet we also value ourselves. The books reminds us that our biggest strength is to understand and therefore find a adequate response instead of reacting compulsively to events.
Erik Graff
Mar 26, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Bill Causer
Shelves: sciences
A regret of youth which may be remediated is that I read so little of Buckminster Fuller. Indeed, this is likely the only complete book of his I finished as a kid and it wasn't even my copy. A friend loaned it to me one night at the Cogswell Dance Studio in Park Ridge which, for a while, served as an informal youth center for the disaffected youth of our community.
David Schwan
I haven't read any Buckminster Fuller in a long time. The writing is a bit opaque yet the thoughts are still quite contemporary. The author writes in metaphor describing the people who really run the world as pirates. Pirates to the author are the only people who really know how the world works; the vast majority of people have no idea how things really work.

This book sees the world as complex and interconnected and is one of many books of its time that advocated a holistic approach to life.

Paul Bard
This political manifesto sells the disproven and evil idea that the ecology is a machine that will naturally tend towards harmony.

As a consequence of this book, communes started all across the world and failed within a few months or years because of no way to defend innocent hippies from power plays and dominance hierarchy inherent to human nature. Their naivete alone disproves this book, but their failure drives it home.

The truth, proven since the 1980s is that ecology is chaotic emergence of
Admirable for breadth of vision and optimism. Interesting to see how his predictions have or haven't come true. The title is a bit misleading and periodically obnoxious sentences like this show up: "Wealth is the product of the progressive mastery of mind, and is specifically accountable in forward man-days of established metabolic regeneration advantages spelt out in hours of life for specific numbers of individuals released from formerly prescribed entropy-preoccupying tasks for their respecti ...more
Page Quinton
Fuller seems to be missing some important points, these being 1) that specialization is necessary at times and 2) that our resources are in fact finite. He mentions that our society is ever focused on specialization and that this characteristic can be cited as causing the extinction of species. Though this claim is true and perhaps we should be wary of it at times most of our advances do in fact come about by some form of specialization. If we all try to think in the comprehensive manner suggest ...more
Paulo Figueiredo
Contextualized in the 60's when eco-philosophers became more proeminent, this book is a guide to one of the first technological utopias.
Fuller (check out his surprising biography!) invite us to the spaceship called Earth and tries to design a way to manage the Earth's resources as a solution for mankind's apparent not so bright future.
He introduces the word sinergy, that should be the main coeficient to establish to value of human productivity. That means: if something we produce is valuable to
Ted Sherk
Neat ideas; somewhat flakey. A favourite excert: "Synergetics discloses that wealth, which represents our ability to deal successfully with our forward energetic regeneration and provide increased degrees of freedom of initiation and noninterfering actions, breaks down cybernetically into two main parts: physical energy and metaphysical know how."
Peter Faust
I was excited to get to know the man whose name kept popping up in my books. Stopped reading somewhere after he spent an entire chapter to belabor a point that wasn't all that controversial in the first place. I really hope this isn't his best work.
An entertaining read, but some very tedious prose. I like his oversimplification of history with the Great Pirates, but I don't think they went extinct after World War I. Seems like the Great Pirates are still alive and well.
Buckminster Fuller just got an instant invite
to my hypothetical, "If you could throw a dinner party and invite anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?"
This is like the history of the world from the 16th century through the 20th 80 words of less...hahahaha...well, it's a little more than that but it is a rather short book to contain as much history of how we went from pirates on the high seas to corporate and mankind's abuse of this fragile spaceship called Earth. This are a lot of term,s, phrase's, idea's and thoughts that to me get lost in all the details that seemed to make this read over my head in portions but what I came awa ...more
Charles II
Great book! Read it once... lost it... and bought it again to read a second time. Highly recommend!
Ralph Zoontjens
Essential little essay that will render your creative thinking more holistic.
Ron Joniak
Classic book. Enjoyable read. Thank you Buckminster Fuller!
He was a cool big picture thinker who saw the opportunity to rid the world of many problems but because of lack of backing could not get it done. Why do we have incredible funds for war but find environmental policies or social policies too costly?

Throughout the book I'm feeling yes I agree! But something even held him up and it bothers me. He was an awesome entrepreneur and technician but I think he was stifled by his communication and politicking abilities. Something I don't want to be stifle
Noah Vickstein
Required reading for anyone that wants to know what the Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth could possibly be. Really. Also, 5 stars for his analysis of the Great Pirates and the alternative historiography contained therein. That alone is worth the price of admission, and you will never talk of history in the same terms ever again. It's that profound.

Bucky's language is at times impenetrable but if you can crack the code it is a rich experience to know the mind of this visionary apologist for h
Even thinking about the title of this book is enlightening. Seeing our singular planet Earth as a self-contained spaceship in the harsh realm of outer space should make us all more conscious of our actions in our everyday life. As we go about our lives, we are spinning on the surface of the planet at over 800 miles per hour while circling the sun at over 60,000 miles per hour and traveling around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy at hundreds of miles per hour. We already are space travelers.
Should be required reading for the human race!
Jun 11, 2009 Lisamiceli88 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at the MCA gift shop when I went there recently to see the Buckminster Fuller exhibit. The book was originally published in 1969, but is completely relevant to our concerns for our planet today. Bucky was a futurist with great concerns for how to best use our resources and he had some creative, "out of the box" ideas about it.
Heavy, technical work that offers important insights on the need for "generalization" in society, to avoid the evolutionary dead end of the over-specialist or overly specialized species. His example included the Eucalyptus: if that goes, the Koala is S.O.L. Good read, and an important visionary I want to learn more about.
Trevor Perrier
I had seen references to this book all over and had read quite a few Buckminster Fuller quotes online so thought I had a decent grasp of his world few. It turns out that Bucky is best read in small snippets and in book form becomes a rambling old man explaining his world view though complex concepts of his own creation.
Samuel Thompson
This is probably the most accessible Fuller work, and is very sharp. Even if it has an overly optimistic and sometimes even dismissive view of history, it provides a challenging reminder of what we as human beings are capable of and neglecting.
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