Monday, June 30, 2008

disturbing thoughts

I had a disturbing conversation (via email) with one of my brothers recently…more of a statement of beliefs than any kind of a discussion. … and it’s got me thinking about humanity. Brother stated that global warming isn’t real, that humans are not damaging this planet, we’re simply going through a normal change – he even said “Isn’t your religion Nature-based? This is just Momma Nature breathing, and of course she’ll breathe out ‘bad’ air (carbon dioxide) just as she always has.” After I got over my outrage that he tried to throw my religion back at me when he doesn’t even really understand it (because he’s never asked)….I countered, saying “So we should just ignore this and keep killing off species, depleting the Ozone, making babies and crowding the planet??” He replied “There are so many more species we haven’t even discovered; the Ozone has depleted and regained and depleted many times before in history; of course we want to make babies – unless you want a zero pop. growth!; you mean we’ve filled up all the empty space on this planet? When did that happen?”

This last statement reminded me of an acquaintance I knew out in Tucson – he also stated that we’re not overcrowded on this earth, because we haven’t filled in all the open spaces. “Look at Montana, not to mention all of Russia” he’d said.

I asked brother if we’re not overpopulated, how come we have so many people dying from starvation, drought, and disease? His reply “selfishness” didn’t seem to really answer it. How can selfishness be the whole answer, when we’re not able to grow enough food RIGHT NOW? With more people covering more of the planet – creating less land to grow food and find resources - the problem will just keep growing.

Adding to this unease, I’ve just finished reading Sherrie Tepper’s “The Family Tree” which goes into Nature, evolution, and humanity all in conflict. At one point Nature steps forward and starts “pruning” humanity – babies and children of multiple children households (more than 3-4) just disappear, and the trees trim the houses too – leaving only 3 bedrooms (one for girls, one for boys, and one for mom and dad).

I’m saddened by the thought that we (the human race) are going to just keep on keepin’ on – always saying that we’re ok for now, that we can work on the problems tomorrow, or that someone else is taking care of “it.” There’s another book I read a long time ago, which I picked up today but just couldn’t stomach – Robert Silverberg’s “The World Inside.” It’s a futuristic story (year 2381) and there are 75 billion people on the planet – all living in 1000-story Urbmons: multicity buildings which perpetuate unrestricted population growth…in fact, if you do not procreate it’s not only shameful, it can be punished.

All this makes me think. And the thoughts aren’t happy ones because it is painfully obvious that, while the human race does (eventually) learn some things, it’s often either too late, or such damage is done that the solution isn’t as positive as it could/should have been.

There are a few other things in my brother’s statement that bother me….It may be true that the earth didn’t have an ozone layer at times in its past (I can only remember reading about the original formation of it…) but without the ozone, there was NO LIFE ON LAND….“we” had to live in the water or be killed by solar radiation….And yes, there are many species on this planet we haven’t discovered yet, but does that give us the right to kill off those that we HAVE discovered?..... And one big question comes to mind, one I didn’t think to ask brother – how can we keep doing what we’re doing and still have any quality of life? If there are more and more people, there will be less and less resources – no fresh water, only that which we recycle; no fresh air, just more Code Orange days with the govt’ warning us to stay inside and wear a ton of sunscreen when we DO go out; higher and higher food and fuel prices for less and less supply. Yes, our lives today are much ‘better’ than they were 200 or more years ago: we have more vaccines, we have safer vehicles and homes, we have a wider variety of foods available…we basically live rather luxurious lives by comparison. But if we keep fouling our nest, soon we won’t have anything to keep it clean – then disease, famine, and wars will become more commonplace – and there goes our quality of life.

With the seeming increase recently of “natural disasters” I feel that Momma Nature is not happy. She’s trying to either tell us something, or, given our past reluctance to listen, she’s going to take things into her own hands:

2008 Sichuan earthquake – 69,000+ dead
2005 Kashmir earthquake – 70,000+ dead
2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami – 283,000+ dead
2003 European heat wave – 37,000+ dead
2003 Bam earthquake – 30,000+ dead
1999 Vargas mudslide – 20,000+ dead
Bird flu – 256 dead
SARS – 775 dead

AIDS – 25,250,000+ dead

Not to mention all those who have died in the various wars/police actions/conflicts/genocide (way over 11,000,000 just since 1950). Hmmm. . . .maybe we don’t have to worry about overpopulation if this trend continues. . . .But a whole lot of people are going to suffer needlessly.


Philosophic Bard said...

Yeah . . . um . . . I too got that email. I stopped fighting them. At first, I tried debating the issues they brought up, but quickly found THAT to be pointless. Time went on and the forwards continued (despite my request for their cessation), and I simply read them then deleted them. The biggest problem there was: he always asked what I thought the next time he saw me. My solution? I don't read them anymore. He asks: "What did you think about that environment email I sent you?" I respond: "Didn't read it, it went straight in the trash, and I most likely don't wish to discuss it." It may be a tad harsh, but that's what my 26 years of "debates" with him have taught me.

In regards to the issue here however, I think that whomever wrote the damned email in the first place is purposely ignoring some very obvious facts about the destructive force we humans can be (and most are), and blowing out of proportion the cyclical nature of this planet's environment. Yes - the Earth goes through cycles. Yes - they're important to the overall health of the planet. (Take naturally-occurring forest fires as an example - the soil is richer afterward, and in fact there are plants whose seeds CAN'T germinate unless they are put through such a harsh process as a fire.) The clincher and where he/she went HORRIBLY askew from reality is: the Earth is not able to follow the natural cycle, because we humans have raped her for so long, the up-swing of the cycle may be impossible without the aid of those who inflicted the damage in the first place.

I'm not completely sold on Segways and nudist colonies, but I really don't think we need to be THAT drastic in what we do. We simply need to be UNIFIED. Frankly, I think sending asinine email forwards works against that goal. How do we overcome this additional obstacle? The only way some people will yield their points-of-view is if they decide another is better. In other words, I encourage him to do a more balanced research - and actually do the research, instead of reading one man's opinion or rantings and deciding it must be right.

We all have our own minds, we all make our own choices, and we cannot expect someone else to make them for us.

I'm stepping off my soap box now.

Steve said...

I think your brother is listening to too much Rush Limbaugh!

To say there are many species we haven't discovered yet is a bit deceptive, because these days almost all the new species being discovered are insects, small plants and other easily-missed critters. In terms of animals and megafauna, we pretty much know what's out there -- and a lot of it is disappearing.

As for children, I'm doing my part -- no babies here! (I think zero population growth would be a fabulous thing.)

lettuce said...

i loved that book by Sherri Tepper - and some of her others too.

really a thinking sort of post