The Architecture of Life: Forget the Planet - Six: But Seriously Folks

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Friday, October 19, 2007

Forget the Planet - Six: But Seriously Folks

(Sixth of seven related posts)

If you have made it this far in this article without leaving to writing a flaming post (…sure, kill the messenger), then perhaps you are starting to get my little tongue and cheek point here.

It is politically correct in this day and age to profess an interest in “saving the planet.”

Almost everyone thinks that is a good idea as long as they don’t have to alter their choice of automobiles, pay higher prices for gasoline, sort their trash more effectively, give up on plastic bags at the supermarket or go to any extra trouble in their day to day lives.

There were concerts all over the planet in the last couple of months hosting millions of young people jumping up and down with righteous glee at the prospect of forcing the evil capitalists and blind governments of the world to take global warming seriously.

All of them were dressed in trendy clothes sold by those capitalists, drove to the event in cars sold by those capitalists, drank soft drinks and alcohol hawked by those capitalists, and counted on the policemen herding them into the stadiums to keep them safe while they watch capitalistic entertainers give a “free concert.” That is, free except for the global publicity.

Those same kids feed the greenhouse gas spewing machine that our over-packaged disposable culture has created - and so do their parents – who are better known as “those capitalists”.

The bottom line is that the way we talk about the environment is a lie.

The environment is not out there. The environment is you.

The environment is everyone you know. The environment is your house, what’s in your shopping cart and in your body. The environment is how you live and how those around you live.

You and everyone you love is 100% made up of the environment. There is nothing in you, nothing you eat, nothing you do, nothing you think, nothing you feel, nothing you ever will do or eat or think or feel that is not an aspect of the environment.

The environment is all there is. You and I are just tiny, insignificant, and not particularly intelligent parts of it.

So if the environment is in trouble, you are in trouble. In fact, you are more at risk than most of the animals on the planet because you belong to a highly complex interdependent society that is quite fragile…much more fragile than the vast majority of the organisms on earth.

Because the vast majority of organisms on this planet are micro-organisms who have existed here for eons.

All it would take to throw human civilization into a terminal downspin is a chain reaction of bad things happening all in a row. And there are plenty of smart people with good science saying that is exactly what we are doing right now.

That means you and everyone you love is in trouble. That means if you want to survive yourself, you will take it seriously yourself.

And that is not going to be easy. It is not about wearing the right kind of T-shirt with the right kind of message on it. It is not even about recycling. It is not about buying a Toyota Prius (though that might help).

It’s about deciding that your life matters and facing the fact that you are connected to, and dependent upon, everyone else.

It is about admitting that we do not really know what we are doing here on this planet. It is about recognizing that we are acting like selfish impulsive children playing with fire.

Ultimately, it is about taming our animal urges…those automatic impulsive behaviors that religious people call sin. It is about taking responsibility for the lives of our children and grandchildren… not just the ones we breed ourselves, but the children and grandchildren of all our sisters and brothers across this tiny, remote planet.

It is about adopting a spirit of humility and facing the grave limitations inherent in being human, our lack of awareness of our automatic behaviors, and our penchant for putting off serious problems until we have no other choice but to face them.

It is about finding some way we can act together to create profound change in how we live as individuals in societies before it is too late…because we are not very good at that.


Remember 9-11?

That sure launched us into action didn’t it?

Americans jumped into action right after Pearl Harbor.

We reacted to the needs of New Orleans…after Katrina.

We reacted with the flurry of bridge inspections across the nation…after the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

We reacted after the rise of Moslem fundamentalism.

We reacted after Rwanda and Cambodia and Darfur.

We reacted after the holocaust.

There were plenty of warnings before all those events and yet we did nothing until each horror became a reality.

Even today, we still do not act in Darfur, because they are not us. We do not see those folks as part of our environment. They are just strange looking black people on a parched continent far removed from our lives.

But what if America was Darfur?

What if 9-11 happened on a global scale?

What if the holocaust happened everywhere all at once?

I don’t mean to be a fatalist. I believe in being positive. There is still a chance people will begin to see how tiny and vulnerable we are here on this planet and cooperate for the common good.

But our automatic behaviors are driving us towards an environmental holocaust. Anyone who views the issue objectively can see that easily. Our overpopulation alone will lead to massive die offs, just as it does in any other species in every eco-system on the planet that overpopulates.

Either we will create our own destruction, or new predators – most likely micro-organisms – will arise, or we will simply out grow or poison the carrying capacity of our planet…and the system will collapse. That is what happens every time in nature, and always has down through the eons.

Are we really going to wait until that happens before we act?

Mother has her rules and we now know a lot about what they are. We just have to accept reality as reality.

But if the past is any indicator of what we will do in the future…then I am sorry to say we probably will keep going until we have used up all our chances.

Forget the Planet Seven is here: