12 November 2007

Global Warming and Grains of Sand

As may be emerging as a trend in these few blog entries here, I have rather different and critical views on life and the situation of the world today. Seeing as I just tonight attended a lecture on Climate Change and Religious Perspectives, I've decided to devote some time to my ideas on climate change.

In the early days of global warming I argued that it was a natural trend, that our planet moves in and out of climatic stages and trends. This argument is not to deny that global warming happens, but mostly that it should come as no surprise. I have been convinced, of late, that indeed human actions have had a great effect on natural trends and have increased them in an "unnatural" way. I criticize the term unnatural because if humans are not a natural organic being of this planet and earthly ecosystem than I do not know what is. Therefore, even the largest cities could be considered natural landscapes. Perhaps its a stretch and most won't agree, but nevertheless I see similar amounts of beauty in the setting sunlight reflecting off a glass facade of a building as I see in the same sun reflecting off a body of water.

While I accept humans role in global warming I still consider it a natural process. My problem with environmentalists is that they inevitably represent humans as the kings of the earth and the ultimate bringers of change. It seems that many should find conflict in the simple act of living, seeing the destructive and rapist role that humans play towards the world that has been protrayed. I think that the current global warming and climate change dialog greatly overestimates and egocentrically places a great influence and power that we simply do not have. Humans have existed on this planet, currently exist on this planet and will remain in existence on this planet for a minuscule amount of time. We need only consider the life of earth, some 4.5 billion years, in order to humble our futile presence. Our entire 400,000 year existence is but a blink of the eye in the history of our planet, that's own history is but a blink of the eye in the history of the galaxy and so on and so on down the road until we come to times that no human can logically or illogically conceive. That said, environmentalists seem to be under the impression that the world we see today was a once static place; that Pandas and White Tigers and Andean Condors have always and would have always beautified the planet were it not for humans. However, the world that we know and see today is also but a single grain of sand on the great beach of time.

Is it not egocentric and somewhat ridiculous to attempt to save Polar Bears and Iranian Cheetahs from the natural evolution or extinction that has and will always occur? I think it is. Despite how much I love seeing the far reaches of our environment populated by exotic and beautiful animal and plant life, I keep in mind the lack of permanence that my eye represents. Global warming is not a good thing, it is making change happen occur much faster (faster than we as a species have heretofore been able to cope with it), but it is silly to expect to turn off evolution and change and save the whales. Whatever our impact on the globe, it will come to an end one day, either because we mar it beyond recognition and move on to other planets, or because we too will simply become extinct.

This planet still has 4 billion good years left before that damned star our there decides to go supernova. Our impact on the globe will be permanent, but instead of viewing it as negative, indeed as a rape and plundering of the natural world, it is but one of many impacts that have changed the earth. One need only consider the great extinction events that have to date eliminated 99% of the life on the planet; including the most-well known event, the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago that changed the face of life on the planet.

Life will go on on this great blue planet until the sun explodes or the core stops spinning ("The Core" anyone?). Life in the future will be different, and perhaps humans will be part of a great extinction event that will change life drastically. This is not a bad thing, indeed it is as natural and as bad as an antelope being hunted, killed and devoured by a pride of Lion. Current discussion on climate change is selfish, short sided and homo-centric (?). Instead of thinking we have great control or great influence over the natural (however accelerated) processes, we should consider how to adapt the human condition to coping with such changes as raised sea levels and drought.

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