Earth is only as friendly as we make it

Earth is only as friendly as we make it

An interesting historical note: up until the second week of September the United States was the largest foreign underwriter of the Taliban, and last May the Bush administration gave them an additional $43 million in exchange for a promise to stop exporting heroin. Of course, that was in the old days when the War on Drugs was the only war in Washington.

(New info: Change mind.) For decades I have subscribed to the “Spaceship Earth” idea that we are all riding on a wonderfully equipped object that is our “lifeboat” in the cosmos. Therefore we have to protect it in some fashion. But the truth is, that while we did evolve here, and so do better here than if we were dropped on the moon or Mars (absent life support) – earth is not friendly to us. Earth h as been fatal to 99 percent of the species that ever evolved. The reason we do reasonably well is that we have learned to fend off many likely causes of death. Human intelligence makes Earth work for us. Sure, we make mistakes, but over time we have mostly been able to fix them. Others among our lineage failed (Neanderthal, for example). During my lifetime we have faced a grave threat in the form of nuclear weapons, but in the first round of saber rattling rational thought prevailed and we began to dismantle the weapons. We’ve faced disease outbreaks that in past centuries might have become pandemics, but controlled them. We even now have the power and knowledge to avoid the worst case we might face-an asteroid collision such as wiped out the dinosaurs. (Though we won’t be certain until we have to try it. It’s a somewhat sobering thought that a child born today is more likely to die of an asteroid strike than an auto accident.) Altogether I feel my pessimism morphing into optimism. Humans have always faced dire threats, problems that had to be solved in order to survive. There will always be problems. We will always be able to find solutions. (Not that this is a guarantee that we will.) Feeling pretty upbeat about the New Year (despite being down with the flu). Happy New Year!

Lame Duckdom

Haven’t posted anything since . Been busy with lots of other things, most particularly the re-election campaign. Having lost in the October primary I’ve been considering where to go at this hinge point in my life. Every other such hinge has led to something better, so I’m not concerned. Of course, leaving behind a part time job that was in many ways 24/7 leaves a lot of space to fill in.

Working on another collection of short stories now while I consider job options going forward. The tentative title story is “Fifty Wheys to Love your Liver.” That, of course, could change, but that’s the leading candidate at the moment.

Butterflies in China, Butterfingers in D.C.

I would guess that many of you are by now familiar with my approach to the making of a UU sermon. First come up with a title that is alliterative or perhaps clever, and then try to justify the title with the content. I learned that trick from Jimmy Buffet who once said that the most important element of songwriting was coming up with a clever title. Once you have “Margaritaville” or “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or “Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude’,” the rest is pretty simple.

So, butterflies in China. It’s kind of a standard example of unintended and magnified consequence that the flapping of a butterfly wing in China might create a tornado in Kansas or a hurricane in Florida. It might be a weary old saw, but it’s also kind of scary. Because it is entirely true that a tiny cause can have remarkable and profound effects. Think of the electrical short that killed three Apollo astronauts or the missed technical warning that resulted in the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. The tree branch on a wire that triggered the northeast power blackout in 2003. Or in an earlier time, “for want of a nail a shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost” and so on. And also from that heirloom past, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

À propos de l'auteur: bivouacdesert

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