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Planet Eaters

By Andrew Glikson and Emily Spence  Posted by Emily Spence (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 2 of 2 pages)
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The Sixth mass extinction does not rise exclusively from global warming, and can be brought about, separately or in combination, by design or accident, through the probability of a global nuclear cataclysm. As time goes on, a possibility becomes a probability becomes a certainty, an increasingly likely prospect on a warming planet burdened by resource wars. Following trials on the inhabitants of two Japanese cities, with time, the Damocles sword of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) strategy can only fall. The hapless inhabitants of planet Earth are given no choice between progressive global warming and the coup-de-grace of a nuclear winter.

Further experiments with the fate of Earth are underway. Once the Hadron Collider has been deemed "safe," pending further science fiction-like experiments yet to be dreamt by ethics-free scientists, Earth may not become a black hole. Unfortunately little doubt exists regarding the consequences of the continuing use of the atmosphere, the lungs of the biosphere, as open sewer for carbon gases.

As stated by the renown oceanographer Wallace Broecker in 1986, "The inhabitants of planet Earth are quietly conducting a gigantic experiment. We play Russian roulette with climate and no one knows what lies in the active chamber of the gun." If the Nazi's constructed gas chambers for millions of victims, ongoing climate change threatens to turn the entire Planet into an open oven on the strength of a Faustian Bargain.

From the Romans to the third Reich, the barbarism of empires surpasses that of small marauding tribes. In the name of "freedom," they never cease to bomb peasant populations in their small fields. Only among the wretched of the Earth is true charity common, where empathy is learnt through their own suffering.

Planetcide challenges every faith, ideal and social system humans ever held. Individuals are crushed, as in H. G. Wells War of the Worlds, when cells rebelling against the insanity of a murderous global Martian society are destroyed by the parent organism.

Planetcide is a child of Orwellian "Newspeak", where modern societies, underpinned by subterranean drug rings, weapon smuggling networks and intelligence agencies, poison their young's minds with commercial and political lies, a propaganda machine Joseph Goebbles would envy.

Nature is full of examples of parasites, viruses destroying their host, sea anemones seducing their prey, but Homo sapiens has perfected untruths to a form of fine art. Defying the scientific method and the peer review system, so-called "sceptics", lured by ego and money, serve as mouthpieces of air-poisoning lobbies, which have already delayed humanity's desperate attempt at mitigating the fast deteriorating state of the atmosphere by more than twenty years.

Having lost the sense of reverence possessed toward the Earth by prehistoric humans, there is no evidence that civilization is about to adopt Carl Sagan's sentiment: "For we are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: star stuff pondering the stars: organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for the Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring." (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980)
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Humans live in a realm of perceptions, dreams, myths and legends, in denial of critical facts (Janus: A summing up, Arthur Koestler, 1978). They wake up for a brief moment from an infinite universal slumber to witness a world as cruel as it is beautiful, a biosphere dominated by the food chain. An inverse relation may exist between the level of consciousness achieved by a species and its longevity, once it creates machines and processes that it can not control. If looking into the sun may result in blindness, so, according to as yet little-understood laws of entropy, the deep insights into nature that humans have achieved may bear a terrible price.

Existentialist philosophy allows a perspective into, and a way of coping with, all that defies rational contemplation. Ethical and cultural assumptions of free will rarely govern the behavior of societies or nations, let alone an entire species.

And although the planet may not shed a tear for the demise of technological civilization, hope, on the individual scale, is still possible in the sense of existentialist philosophy. Going through their black night of the soul, members of the species may be rewarded by the emergence of a conscious dignity devoid of illusions, grateful for the glimpse at the universe for which humans are privileged by the fleeting moment:

"Having pushed a boulder up the mountain all day, turning toward the setting sun, we must consider Sisyphus happy." (Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942)


Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleo-climate scientist, Australian National University.
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Emily Spence, environmental and social policy writer, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

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I found your essay beautiful--stark and bleak, but... by Carol Cleveland on Friday, Oct 17, 2008 at 3:41:10 PM
I found your essay beautiful--stark and bleak, but... by Carol Cleveland on Friday, Oct 17, 2008 at 3:41:31 PM
Carol, thank you for your kind uplifting comments.... by Emily Spence on Sunday, Oct 19, 2008 at 2:11:01 PM