Friday, February 09, 2007

We're aliens

The International Panel on Climate Change, a group of more than 2000 researchers from 130 countries came out with their report recently stating that climate change--global warming--is likely man-made. This drew a reaction from scientists who disagree that human activities cause global warming. Truth be told, I too am of the opinion that climate is such a complex thing that it is impossible to eliminate all possible causes of global warming in a study of climate data, and it's not enough to conclude that human activity is the culprit. After all, the earth has been in cycles of warming and cooling even before someone invented the SUV. The sun also has its own cycles that could be affecting our climate: Mars is experiencing glacial shrinking and as far as I can tell, there are no humans on Mars. But what I dont get is the seeming shrugging of it all by the skeptics of the IPCC report. I have this vibe from them that, hey, it's not our fault. It's a natural occurrence so let's just relax. But if you think about it, the fact that global warming isnt our fault, that it's a naturally occurring cycle that has nothing to do with our activities is even scarier. It means we can't do anything about it. The world could warm up like a siopao in the microwave, melting glaciers, raising sea levels, producing super typhoons and we can do absolutely nothing. It's Nature, man. Nature always wins. The findings of those scientists who say human activity is to blame for climate change is at least offering us some cold--pardon the pun--comfort that there is still something we can do to remedy things if we act quickly.

But it's all one big mess. It's political mess and not necessarily scientific. The "It's all our fault" school of global warming is accusing the deniers, the "We didnt do it" school, of being in the payroll of the oil companies, while the deniers are pointing to an international cabal of left-wing Europeans that's behind the "It's all our fault" school. Their target is the USA, whom they accuse of emitting the most greenhouse gases and want the US to institute safeguards that will slow down its economy (so they can compete?). And with eco-warriors such as Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore and James Lovelock going to bat for nuclear energy, it could open the door for attacks from the deniers of human-induced climate change by accusing the other side of being in the payroll of the nuclear power corporations.

If the IPCC report is correct, and it's all our fault, it could only bolster a theory I have that we dont belong here. Without us, Nature would go its merry way, adjusting itself, intricately balancing its processes in a forever dance with the rest of the Universe to protect the life in it: if it gets too cold, the earth will emit greenhouse gases to warm things up; if it gets too warm, it'll cool things down by producing more reflecting clouds. All was well, the earth taking care of things more or less for eons, such that even if it gets hit every once in a while by cataclysmic forces such as comet impact and what-not, life survives. All was well, that is, until we showed up. And once we did, we left a wide swath of death and destruction in our wake. We use up material that will take the earth millions of years to replace, throwing our trash in the land, sea, and air in the process, and we dont care. Natural selection more-or-less worked and is the rule for every other living creature but we defied even that. We are not subject to the laws of evolution where only the best get to procreate and leave a next generation that's better than the previous one. And we have messed up natural selection for the rest of the living things too. We choose the individuals and species that get to reproduce, even to the extent of genetically modifying some of them, arrogating unto ourselves what was once Nature's function, creating horrible imbalances in the process. I mean, wouldnt you call it an imbalance when a large part of the methane we throw into the atmosphere comes from cow fart? Domestic cattle being one of the species that we humans created from Nature's original stock, blessed and anointed as worthy of being allowed to live?

But like I said, Nature always wins. It takes its time, perhaps allowing us more time to reconsider our ways and play by its rules for the good of all, but eventually it will act. It already has its defenses in place: viruses ready to mutate into people killers as soon as Nature gives word, killer storms fueled by warmer, moister air, and the earth's own shrugs. When nature scratches this itch that is the human race, there's no getting out of the way.

What the hell are we? Agent Smith in The Matrix called us a virus. Perhaps we are. We clearly dont belong here, or if we do belong here, we are an arrogant specie that will not play by Nature's laws like the rest of the creatures on this planet do. But where did we get this arrogance? There is an interesting myth in Genesis (and I mean myth as it originally meant--a story that expresses a truth so profound and inexpressible that it can only be told via poetry or allegory) where God told Adam and Eve not to partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but they did so anyway and became, like the serpent told them, like gods. And gods, being gods, dont think the laws apply to them. That's us. We have become as arrogant gods who need to be taught a lesson in humility. In Genesis, God banished Adam and Eve from the garden where they originally belonged. They didnt originally belong here. They were--we are-- aliens.

1 comment:

grifter said...

that means the Men In Black should be policing us. paging Johnny Cash! oops, wrong Man.