Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nature Strikes Back

Enjoy your summer vacations, suckers. Things are going wild again, and it’s just a matter of time now before we reach a tipping point on the survival of the fittest.

For a few million years, we hominids, especially we homo sapiens, have had the advantage of technology—it keeps us cool in the summers, warm in the winters, generates a realistic (if not exactly real) food supply, and lets us migrate great distances at high speeds in the relative comfort of nuclear-family-sized receptacles, in which we cocoon ourselves and our loved ones from the brutal roar and grime of the very highways we vroom-vroom over—no less oblivious to nature, what little of it we see smashed flat on the curbside, than to our fellow motorists, on whose consciousnesses likewise we have not the slightest impact.

Ironically, it’s a technology almost entirely built on rapidly diminishing (and nonrenewable) remains of dinosaurs, who, too, once had their day at the top of the food chain.

Nature—non-human nature—has proved remarkably resilient to all the shit we’ve been hurling at it for the past several hundred years. We have rid ourselves of the dodo bird and the Japanese sea lion, but have not yet seen the same coolly efficient results with wolves, cockroaches, and crocodiles.

We humans, sadly, have been striving against our own survivability for millenia—through war, poverty, and, most of all, willful ignorance of how the world around us works. Greed and stupidity have been the soils most conducive to our self-destructive antisocial (anti-humane) tendencies.

Clannishness, nationalism, religion, and addiction to mindless entertainments have been potent fertilizers.

Just for one stark though representative bit of evidence—in 2007, according to a recently published Harvard study, medical problems accounted for 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the USA, and 78% of those filers had private health insurance at the beginning of their illness.

I can’t imagine that things have improved much in the intervening years … and all evidence indicates that our elected officials are more impressed with the campaign contributions from pharma and insurance companies than with the implications of statistics like these.

And it’s likely that full-throttle ad campaigns can turn us rank and file to the opinion that big profits for Pfizer and Wellpoint matter more to us than Uncle Theodore’s kidney infection.


See ya later, alligator.

1 comment:

  1. Such is the problem with the faculty of reason: It is deemed superior to *natural* instinct. Humanity's deference to reason (or eloquence masquerading as reason) is arguably an attempt to divorce ourselves from the evolutionary process that gave birth to life and reason.

    In "The Long Winter" in the "Little House on the Prairie" series Pa and Laura are looking at a muskrat house. Pa notes that the coming winter will be hard due to the muskrat's walls are thicker than normal. Somehow natural instinct provides the information that the muskrat needs to survive -- nothing more or less. Unfortunately humanity has trouble hearing that instinct; Laura's town is spared only because a Native American (who is apparently more in tune with nature) warns of the coming winter.

    Obviously reason is a double-edged sword. History seems to say that we are getting more adept at this (so far) exclusive faculty. For instance humanity no longer considers those with darker skin-tone simultaneously a human and 3/5 a person. As always, time will be the judge. In the mean time we should remember to "respect our elders"; nature was here long before homo sapiens.



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