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View Diary: Wasted Lives & Wasted Potential (56 comments)

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  •  Sometimes I wonder (20+ / 0-)

    if our brains are maladaptive, viewed on a very long-term large scale.  Perhaps we as a species are exactly smart enough to thoroughly screw over the planet, but not quite smart enough to prevent our demise.  

    This is the sort of pessimism I indulge in when thinking about the biggest challenge confronting us - the huge changes that are coming due to global climate change, and the certain knowledge that a human population of 7,000,000,000 is large enough to create its own geological epoch - the Anthropocene.  And the utter lack of a coherent response.  One political party is so enamored of their culture war and their dominionist religious myths that they can't see it happening.  The other does nothing about it.  Here we are during the warmest March on record, and the talk is about reducing gas prices, not about climate zones shifting a hundred miles north.

    When one is in one's 20's, political and cultural change seems possible.  People seem rational, able to respond to facts rather than belief or wishful thinking.  By the time one reaches 50, one starts to realize the limitations of humans just as we realize some of our own personal and private limitations.  It can be a bit discouraging.  People will cut down the remaining forests to make a buck or to eat more beef; people will buy hummers and consume the last drop of hydrocarbon extracted from the earth despite the fact that the ocean may acidify for the next millenium as a result.

    Our species seems unable to understand environmental effects over a decade, let alone a century.  But as long as we are being philosophical, the one thing that gives me a certain amount of joy is that life on earth is incredibly tenacious and flexible.  My city is only about 170 years old, but in that time, a whole host of organisms have adapted and crept back into the city.  Coyotes in downtown Chicago, owls in the school playgrounds, new species of hornets evolving in NYC.  Who knows what will either outlive us, or adapt as the human population either stabilizes or crashes.  One thing's for certain - we can't screw it all up, and that gives one a little hope.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 06:56:46 PM PDT

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