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The Plague Upon Eden

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Eden Defined

Such a spectacular and magnificent entity is the planet we call Earth, a wonderment of natural beauty and symbiotic balance yet to be surpassed by the creative genius of humankind. It is a planet teeming with the colors of life, its oceans and continents gems of existence, an overabundance of beating hearts and flowing energy. The planet we call our only home is a living, breathing, dynamic cocktail of universal energy, for billions of years spinning and molding itself according to the laws and realities of science, adapting, shifting and shaping itself through the long days of darkened chaos and the unmistakable genesis of light, becoming, through the slow processes of evolution, the eventual home to millions of life forms, encompassing a wide range of periods, extinctions and eras of flourishing order.

Welcome to the Eden of tangible reality, a terrestrial paradise not of myth or fable but of evolution, physical change and awe-inspiring natural splendor, created by the sands of time long and lonesome, not in days but in eons, molded by cycles of energy, not the hands of supernatural prehistory.

Traversing epochs of time unfathomable to the human mind, Earth has been witness to wave after wave of natural calamity, constant shifts in tectonic plates, weather alterations and even mass extinctions from asteroid impacts. It has hosted many dominant species of life forms, most of them living long before the arrival of man, offering sustenance and prosperity, becoming a breadbasket of survival and of death, enabling creatures of all shapes and sizes to thrive or die off for millions upon millions of years in a circle of life from which all living things arise. She is an old, wise planet, bearing witness to billions of years of change, herself evolving and constantly alive, from the nadir of the oceans to the zenith of the highest mountain, her surface becoming the cradle of life where even death helps spring forth new energy.

She has seen life grow from the earliest, smallest single cell organism to the mammalian world of today, her soils and waters granting the sustenance enabling our species to thrive. Her balance of life and energy has allowed us to evolve from rat-like mammals to ape-like entities to our present adaptation, in the process transforming primitive primates into overlords of the planet, slowly but surely extending our reach to all corners of the globe.

Our planet has always thrived with a balance of all things living as well as that of all the energies it possesses, for on Earth all vibrant mechanisms are interconnected, each dependent on all others, from flora to fauna to insects to ecosystems to weather to oceans to winds to currents to tectonic plates to magnetic fields to the moon to the air we breathe and the food we eat, much the same way that wings of a butterfly can cause the formation of a hurricane clear across the world. The interconnectedness of all the Earth's energies has allowed the planet to thrive in its natural splendor for millennia, always keeping its surface in perfect balance, maintaining its fragility protected and becoming an Eden for the eyes of the universe to gaze down on. Its delicate balance was sustained in eternal synergy, allowing the planet to function in perfect harmony, upset only by cataclysmic events or by the plague called man.

What a site to behold to have seen Earth in its virgin state of nature, well before the arrival of humans, its surface an oasis of life, its atmosphere a radiant splendor upon the eyes, its forests and jungles unending and lush, its plains and savannas saturated and teeming with a cornucopia of creatures. The Eden of days long gone must have been the peak of the planet's long history. Unscarred, untouched, unmarked, unpolluted and undamaged, the planet existed without borders, fences, dams and boundaries, free of the human ego, free of the flag and the cross, its lands, air and waterways uncompromised by the toxins spewed by man, its creatures free to roam and live, fighting for survival in the harsh existence that is the circle of life, free to evolve according to natural selection, not human intervention.

Earth before modern man was a reality just over 100,000 years ago, when most of the planet had yet to experience the arrival of human beings, before it had yet to bear witness to what would soon become a plague springing from east Africa that, in each new land it set foot in, rapidly unleashed destruction upon land and extermination upon life. For the primate with the large brain possessed greater intelligence than all mammals, yet still retained its animal urges, needs, wants, behaviors, emotions and passions, thus making it that much more dangerous to the environment it walked on and the planet that birthed it.

In short time it made extinct the once bountiful herds and numerous species native to the area, altering ecosystems, damaging environments and wreaking havoc on once pristine lands, for it can be said that wherever man walks destruction soon follows. Wherever Homo sapiens journeyed on Earth, from Africa to Europe to the Middle East to Asia and the Americas, mass extinctions soon ensued, for within its unquenchable hunger for meat, sustenance and salvation existed its inability to envision the consequences of its actions. As is still prevalent among our species, forethought was but an afterthought and our longing for conquering the present invariably exceeded our inability to comprehend the future.

The Evisceration of Eden

For billions of years the planet had existed without man, allowing the invisible hands of time to dictate change, for hundreds of millions of years allowing natural selection determine the fate of life. With the arrival of man onto virgin lands, however, what had taken eons to create began to be eviscerated in a matter of years. In the blink of a historical eye, humankind became the dominant species on the planet, introducing to the world a primate capable of manipulating the complex mechanisms of nature, a mammal using brain intelligence along with social skills to thrive at the expense of the environment it now controlled, yet failing to understand, even with its propensity for higher intelligence, its effects for the tomorrow, blinded instead by the glare of the today. For Homo sapiens remained but an animal in behavior and emotion, its psychology dictated by tens of millions of years of evolution, from our reptilian origins to our mammalian needs.

Incapable of understanding the long term, only managing to comprehend the present, short term, preferring to try and manage problems only when they arose, thereby failing to preempt them before materializing, human beings spread to all corners of the planet, growing exponentially in numbers, in short time beginning to place tremendous stress on nature and the environment. For millennia humanity subsisted exclusively on hunting and gathering but with growing numbers of family and tribe members, with increasing numbers of rivals, with less territory and an ever-dwindling supply of game surviving became a growing problem. These stresses thus gave birth to agriculture about 10,000 years ago. With agriculture civilization rose from the crumbs of tribes and clans, giving rise to the city-state, birthing the human ecosystem that has been our home for millennia.

Growing villages and cities meant a need for wood for fuel, heating and cooking. Timber was needed for shelter and fortifications; land was needed to expand the crop yields necessary to feed an ever-growing population. Thus began the clear-cutting of most of the world's massive forests and untold numbers of trees in other parts of the globe. This phenomenon, which has devastated forests and ecosystems alike, leading to the extermination of an untold number of animal and plant species, has yet to stop; indeed, it has only accelerated with the rise of machines and the enormous demand for wood products by billions of humans, without even so much as a concern for the damage we are inflicting or the understanding of the long term - and permanent - destruction upon ecosystems whose balance and harmony will never again regain their synergy.

Today, the forests and jungles of Africa, North America, Europe, Russia, China, Indonesia, Asia and South America have been or are in the process of being utterly destroyed, centuries-old trees chopped down in a matter of seconds. Entire forests, acting as the lungs of the planet and the clusters of diversity, home to millions of living organisms, have disappeared to the degenerative needs and wants of man, our gluttonous appetite for lumber as ceaseless as it is destructive. For millennia dependent on wood resources, it seems our modern civilization and sophisticated cultures have yet to escape the primitive need for timber.

Not satisfied with the extinction of northern hemisphere forests, our addiction to all things wood being so all-encompassing, we have for decades now turned our attention to the jungles of the southern hemisphere, particularly those of Latin America and tropical Africa and Asia, in the process eviscerating plant and animal life on a massive scale. Our inability to comprehend the consequences to our actions is so great, and the damage done is so pervasive, that in less than a few decades we will succeed in mass exterminating most if not all of the flora and fauna we have come to know and love, including our closest mammal relatives, the gorilla and chimpanzee, the latter of which we happen to share 98.5 percent of our genetic sequence with.

Today, humanity's greed and quest for natural resources continues to devastate the world's forests and jungles, now comprising a semblance of their original appearance, some being logged under enormous stress to their continued viability. In a few years time the beauty and wonderment of these canopy cathedrals will cease to exist, becoming a historical relic seen only in the receding minds of elders and the recorded images of video. What will happen to a world devoid of armies of trees, their rich diversity exterminated? In a few decades, the complete mass extinction of the animal world in the wild will arrive into our reality, robbing the planet and future generations of the Garden of Eden that has existed for hundreds of millions of years. Our collective complicity is today relegating the great mammals of the planet to small patches of protected land, their ecosystems coming under immense human pressure more and more each day.

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Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet essayist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, http://www.valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com as well as at other alternative (more...)
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