Friday, October 14, 2005

Mother Earth Strikes Back

A tsunami which killed over 200,000 in south east Asia; hurricanes in the southern USA which temporarily put New Orleans out of commission; and now an earthquake in Pakistan which may have killed upwards of 40,000. Are these furies nature’s revenge for the environmental depredations carried out by the human animal?

Whether this has been the worst year in the history of the globe for natural disasters is arguable, but it may well have been among the worst of years, and there are still ten weeks to go in this one. So, does all that’s happened so far this year arise out of what we’ve perpetrated on Mother Earth and her environment? It would seem that the recent hurricanes in the southern USA came out of global warming, since scientists warned some time ago that a warning sign of it would manifest in the Caribbean basin. Now it has, since the number of hurricanes has doubled in this area over the last thirty-five years.

Is the current warming of our globe merely an impersonal cyclical phenomenon that occurs every few hundred or thousand years as some of our men of science assert, or is it because we are spewing too much guck into the air and chopping down too many trees? And if the current global warming is the sole result of us spewing too much guck into the air and chopping down too many trees, will the problem be ameliorated sufficiently and in enough time if we merely spew less guck into the air and chop down less trees as proposed under the Kyoto treaty?

Environmental despoliation is a function of economic poverty. The billions of people who live in fetid slums and otherwise exist on the proverbial smell of an oilrag merely to survive yet one more day, are not in frames of mind to worry about global warming – an issue of concern mainly to well-fed urban yuppies fortunate enough to live in the industrial democracies whose denizens account for merely 10% of humanity.

So unless we eliminate the poverty of these billions, and do it quick, we are certainly doomed, for governments will only be disposed to change their environmental policies if their subjects demand that they do so. And even were this to happen, we would only change from being certainly doomed to almost-certainly doomed, since our numbers are still increasing although now at a slower rate. So there will still be ever more of us in future generations to spew ever more guck into the air and chop down ever more trees.

What, then, about the shifting of subterranean tectonic plates which caused the south-east Asian tsunami, and earthquakes like the recent one in Pakistan? How about that they express Mother Earth’s protest at what we’re doing to her? What if Mother Earth has a consciousness of her own, and is furious at what's being done to her, and so, through causing earthquakes and tectonic plate-shifts, is expressing her displeasure in the only way possible?

This may sound bizarre to you who have swallowed wholesale the official received wisdom that the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm of a dualistic mechanical clockwork universe is infallibly true, despite a plethora of evidence that it isn’t. Since this paradigm would reject Mother Earth having a mind of her own, you will, if you’re normal, be chortling into your beer at the very suggestion that what you were told in school may not be true. So, go on and laugh.

But remember, it is the fools who laugh.