Reclaim The World We Evolved Into

Ocean ecosystemdsc_0024s are in danger. On shore ecosystems are in danger. Ecosystems are in danger. Some people make the argument that, relating to climate change, we don’t need to save the earth we need to save humanity. It’s a reasonable argument. We can’t really destroy the earth. Matter is very resilient, it’s part of the laws of thermodynamics. Matter can’t be destroyed, it can just change state. The ecosystem isn’t what’s in danger, it’s its ability to continue to nurture the lives abound in the current biological period. The ecosystems mammals evolved to live in provided us with oxygen to breathe and clean water to drink. It provided us with thriving plant life and animal peers for food. The ecosystem we evolved to live in did have poison. Sulfur, which is responsible for the smell of rotten eggs, appears naturally from rotting vegetables and marshlands. Dioxins, the consumption of which have been connected to lower IQs, occur naturally when organic materials combust. Radiation is present in significant amounts in marble and granite. Don’t let anybody tell you that the natural world is your cradle. Our ancestors had to look at the grandeur of nature and choose the path that made the most sense to survive. Our ancestors chose well.

Anthropogenic pollution, forget climate change,  is a huge issue for the survival of humanity. It corrupts the air we need to breathe, it poisons the water we need to drink, and it kills our food sources. The plastic and chemical waste we dump into the sea ends up in our food. Don’t argue to conserve the natural world because of any philosophy about the value of all life, I’d buy it but it isn’t the strongest argument from an anthropocentric perspective, i.e., all of our perspectives. Argue to conserve the environment because it will allow us now, and future generations of bipeds, to drink and eat unpoisoned water and food.

We have poisoned the environment. The atmosphere is changing because of greenhouse gasses. The land and sea are changing because of chemical pollutants and trash. And life is learning to live with these changes, and by ‘learning to live with’, I mean life on earth is undergoing a mass extinction. Those who don’t think we need to save the earth have faith in human creativity and industry to save us. They see the tree and its carbon dioxide scrubbing, oxygen producing services being replaced by technology. They see the food industry being replaced by GMO technologies. They see clean water being provided by ever improving filtration technologies. They see floating houses saving us from sea-level rise. But I don’t think that they envision this world being shared by us and other species. The polar bear will go the way of the Dodo as its ecosystem and food sources do. The bald eagle will follow the polar bear. And the whale will go before both of them, rendering Greenpeace inconsolable.

I don’t personally have confidence in human ingenuity’s ability to outsmart human recklessness but the efforts being made to try are interesting. There’s the teenage engineer and visionary who devised a system of buoys and barges to clean the plastic from the ocean. There’s the billionaire visionary with electric cars on the road and the first reusable space rockets in development. And there are the visionary scientists with the idea to commercialize fake trees that can filter carbon dioxide out of the air.

 

“But if we could figure out the trade secrets of photosynthesis? Every other source of energy we depend on today—coal, oil, natural gas—would become obsolete. Photosynthesis is the ultimate green power. It doesn’t pollute the air, and is in fact carbon neutral. Artificial photosynthesis, on a big enough scale, could reduce the greenhouse effect that’s driving climate change in a dangerous direction.”

Neil Degrasse Tyson, Cosmos, 2014

Technophiles might hold the future in their hands. The opposite approach, to put an absolute halt on industrial society, would be more likely to avoid total extinction but it won’t be brought about consciously and it would lead to external disasters for the surviving humans such as masses of rotting crops and nuclear meltdowns. Until it’s forced on us though we are in the hands of groups and individuals such as the Joint Center for Aritificial Photosynthesis and the visionaries mentioned above.

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