The Architecture of Life: Forget the Planet - Two: You are the Environment!

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Friday, October 19, 2007

Forget the Planet - Two: You are the Environment!

(Second of seven related posts)

What we should be worrying about is the environment hurting us! The environment has an ugly history of killing off species a lot bigger and tougher than we are.

It is politically correct to protect our good-natured Disneyland style environment these days, but let’s be honest. The environment is not known for protecting us back.

It kills tens of thousands of us regularly. Heat stroke, skin cancer, and infectious disease are all gifts of our environment. So are tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes. We might as well start a movement to protect serial killers and suicide bombers. They do a lot less damage to innocent people than the environment.

As far as I’m concerned, I’ll take care of the environment as soon as it starts taking care of me.

But in the last few years, as I have come to this conclusion, I have realized there is a little problem with that position. I have come to understand that I AM the environment.

If you really look, it makes no sense to talk about the environment as though we are distinct from it, because we are not. We are born of it, made from it, built by it and utterly controlled by it.

The environment is like layers of an onion, worlds within worlds…and our bodies are a universe in their own right. You and I - every other member of the human race - and all the other “higher” organisms on this planet are really just small components of a writhing organic mass of tiny creatures who cover our planet, viruses, bacteria and single-celled forms of like that are impossible to see with the naked eye.

Our bodies are populated by uncountable micro-organisms. They treat our physiology like eighteenth century Europeans treated continents; as resources to be exploited.

In the big picture, the human body is just a minor variation of how single-celled organisms have learned to organize themselves. That is after all what a cell is, a single-celled organism that evolved to specialize and cooperate with others in order to survive.

We are merely cheap subdivisions built by the first, the tiniest, and most sucessful real estate developers in nature.

Human beings are funny. We think of ourselves as the dominate form of life on the planet. But every morning we get up and feed our pets, who lay around like aristocracy scarcely raising a paw to support themselves. We spend most of every day working our fingers to the bone so we can feed the micro-organisms in our guts that enslave us because we can’t digest without them.

We are like cows, chickens and pigs are to them…domesticated meat animals. We are slaves on the plantation. To bacteria and other micro-organisms, we are Whole Foods and Wild Oats. Except the merger occurred long before humans evolved.

Given the fact we don’t run the planet, but are stooges for germs, what’s the point of arrogant talk suggesting we are capable of damaging the environment and polluting the earth? It’s condescending to think the environment needs our stewardship.

It’s like asking my gall bladder to manage New York City.

Let’s just face it. The whole thing is over our heads. We should just get drunk, make fun of Paris Hilton, or watch the Simpsons. All we know how to do is eat, have sex and die anyway.

Forget the Planet Three is here: