There has been a great deal written about, spoken about and screamed about with regard to saving the Earth. But what do you think the Earth feels about it. Let’s look at the situation from the Earth’s point of view for a mo. If you buy the theory that the planet is about 4.5 billion years old (as opposed to the theory that it is 6008 years old and was build in six days) then we have a span which, by most measures, is on the longish side. For about a billion years the place looked like hell, I mean the Old Testament Hell, all fire and lack of amenities. The the surface was molten and oxygen could not attempt to be a gas yet. Talk about global warming! As soon as a crust formed, volcanoes started popping up like a puppy on a griddle with much the same result.
Eventually continents formed but they moved around a bunch — beach front became mountain tops, became deserts became ice bound and this kept on until today and it’s still going on. As time stretches back things become vague but we are pretty sure that in the Permian Epoch (about a quarter of a billion years ago) either a meteor hit or someone spilled a really big latte and 90% of the species turned to compost. Nature did its thing until 85 million years ago in the Cretaceous period (many think it was the Jurassic but that was movie magic) and this time 75% or so of the species got wacked.
Today many folks are worried about a tiger here a whale there. Back in the 90’s when small pox was almost eradicated there was actually an advocacy for keeping some of the microbes alive for biodiversity sake. This either makes perfect sense or is completely crazy. You can make the point both ways, nay? Anyway, to even question some enthusiastic citizens pressing need to raise condor chicks with $50,000 puppet parents or fly injured monkeys 5,000 miles to monkey repair shops is considered insensitive. If you suggest that ½ million dollar heart/lung transplants for newborn babies might be a questionable use of resources you are considered a cad. But some people profess that Man is some sort of divine creature and we should spare no expense for glory except for cell research which is the Devil’s Tool for subverting the human race. Sometimes I wonder, if man is so special why are there so many bugs? And if Man is the last word wouldn’t we be better engineered. What’s with the nail on the little toe? It’s hard to cut and, at it’s best, is not that good for climbing trees.
So we have ol’ Planet Earth in one corner and tiny toe-nailed Man in the other. Some folks subscribe to the Gaia Theory that the planet is a living creature in danger of Man killing it. Well there really is a gulf between biology and geology so unless you are an American Indian or maybe a Buddhist it really is a hunk of slowly cooling rock. One thing is sure though, Man is poisoning the air, water and land. We bury radioactive waste which will not cool for 100,000 years and we lament that we are destroying the planet. Well we aren’t. The planet if anything is amused at our grand notion and it doesn’t give a rat’s potootie about how we manage our little span of time. The planet is actually doing quite well but our tenure can be made quite unpleasant if we act like a bunch of frat boys on Spring break shooting out the TV and stuffing all the towels into the toilet of this Motel 6 we call home. We should change the slogan from Save The Planet” to “Save Ourselves.” We need short term solutions to our short term problem. Heresy, insanity or at best politically incorrect suicide? Well the fact is we should become very selfish. We should clean our rooms and not for the next 4.5 billion years or for the future of The Human Race but for ourselves, in this lifetime, for our children in theirs and for our fellow revelers all around the world.
So often I hear that the planet isn’t supposed to be messed up. In fact things are working out exactly as they should because of the simple fact that they have worked out like this. We can nudge the future but it is a pretty big ship to turn in new direction. If we want to affect change we need to realize that spoilers like Ralph Nader are good place to nudge. Ralph Nader thinks he’s funny by making himself the impossible choice and subverting the last election by urging his hollow headed supporters to vote for him. His point was that it makes no difference who is president. Reeellly? Trust me it does because we need to look at the SHORT term. Forget what the distant future holds. We need to save ourselves now and by now I mean the next four years.
As inflection points go, the tragic war in Iraq is a pretty minor one, unless it touches you personally which being in the here and now it certainly can. We do hit inflection points and go backwards now and then. I don’t think we are actually going backwards right now so much as stopped from making progress for a time (this is hard to define unless you take a longer view). Some big retreats include the Dark Ages and a smaller one could be WWII. But for sheer catastrophe try a gigantic one like the potential of global warming. Some of the things that set us back like rocks from space blotting out the sun are plain old bad luck. Others like the sacking of Alexandria (if the library had not burned we might not have lost 1,000 years of progress) was a political inevitability combined with a fragile intellectual infrastructure. But this new danger is perhaps the biggest challenge yet. Wouldn’t it be nice if Ralph worked on this one.