Everyone my very advanced age has seen changes in and on this Earth that overwhelm. There are almost three times as many of us now as there were at the time of my birth. I am guessing that less that one third of our seven billion lives very well, but another third lives in poverty never before known.
In my youth it took at least three weeks to travel, by boat--there were no planes from where I grew up to Europe, two more weeks to America; today that takes less than 24 hours. Today we can know what is happen- ing in the farthest corners of the earth almost instantaneously. As millions of others I have survived five years in a country occupied by a foreign nation. I cannot even count the wars that were, and are, fought during my life time. What we thought unthinkable cruelty half a century ago now is every day normal. I have been poor and well-to-do; now almost poor again.
The changes we had to get used to came so fast and furious that we have lost our balance. I know and understand how others must feel in a world that appears on the brink of collapse. I understand why some people want to go back to the past when, from today's point of view, life is seen easier and simpler. I too would like to be able to live again in the peaceful world of my earlier years, or even the ultimately simple life of who I think of as First People. Wild humans, humans before civilization.
But there is no path to the past.
We began our human existence 150.000 years ago as just another kind of animal, taking no more than we needed, returning if nothing else our excrement: fertilizer for life that would feed us tomorrow.
We explored the entire planet. Our smarts made us adapt to whatever environment we encountered. When there was nothing but snow we made shelters of snow. We made shelters of bamboo, of wood. We ate what we found or hunted. Never more than we needed -- knowing we must eat tomorrow.
Then, maybe 10k years ago, we turned a corner. We declared our- selves more than animals. We imagined ourselves apart from nature. We could and would design our own world using nature as a resource, no longer our Mother Earth. We took and took without giving back to or even caring for Mother Earth.
We made an artificial world almost unrelated to the reality of this planet. We could not have done that without changing how we think of ourselves.
We invented ways to acquire enormous power with which we have changed the planet, although on the scale of a planet we are but one of millions of species.
We are not unlike a flu virus, or a bacillus, attacking a much larger, very complex, human organism.There are scientists who think of homo sapiens, our species, as a cancer: sudden burst of growth, "eating" its host.
There are many ways to show how a few of the Elite have gathered much of the wealth of this country and the world, leaving the crumbs for the seven billion of us.
A seriously ill economy, perhaps even a sick world economy, we can experience. Most of us do. It is harder to experience and accept that the planet is severely stressed. And yet the two are related: the economy and the ecology.
We do experience the planetary stresses in extremes of climate. We have already had "Biblical" floods, droughts, 100-year storms, tornadoes, summer temperatures, winter blizzards.
More difficult to experience that the planetary ecology is severely stressed by a serious loss of biodiversity. It has been well documented that many animal and plant species are extinguished by severe destruc- tion of habitat. We know there are now seven billion humans, more than there ever were in our entire history. In our own bodies if one kind of cell or bacteria grows well beyond normal and so interferes or stops normal functioning, that is called cancer.
There are scientists who call homo sapiens a cancer.