Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Web that Nature Weaves

When I first began one of my main Rochester Issues (environmental concerns particular to our area) was Acid Rain. There were many stories on this issue and much made of the dying lakes in the Adirondacks due to sulphuric and nitric acids drifts from Western power plants. But, after placing scrubbers on power plants the effect of Acid Rain began to diminish and with it all news pertaining to Acid Rain. Seemingly, man had recognized a problem and solved it.

Hubris and delusion.

However, the web of life is not as simple as a man-made machine. It is hubris to think that we could spew out toxic gases into the atmosphere in fantastic quantities and believe there would be a quick fix. Stop the cause, like fixing faulty brakes, and your car is ready to go. This is hubris.

But beyond hubris, it is delusionary to believe that that the complex web of life can be fixed without ferreting out all the causal threads in what is always an infinitely deep connectivity that links all life with life. Upsetting the balance of Nature, in this case the PH of a lake, and even stopping the cause of the problem will probably only create another one-like the boy trying to plug holes at a dike. Another one springs anew.

These kinds of delusions feed our hubris on environmental matters and make our inexorable march towards catastrophe inevitable. We are like a virus that feeds on its own destruction, believing when victorious over a small battle with Nature that we have won the big battle when in truth what we have accomplished is to kill the host.

Periodic set-backs like Acid Rain and seeming solving them do not lead us to heed and caution us to investigate how our way of life may affect our ability to have our way of life. Rather, these small victories lead us towards more folly, ratcheting up our precarious relationship with our environment, possibly making our collapsed more intense. Out future will be a continual reaching towards dangerous tipping points and making them more profound.

And our media, which feeds on controversy and the whims of its audience, is not compelled to ferret out the rational results of large scale environmental problems—a wholesale disturbance that probably has manly consequences not obvious to a species not inclined towards getting at the bottom of the problems it causes. Quite the opposite, we tend to ignore anything that intrudes on our own beliefs.

However, back in reality, we usually have only an inkling of the real disturbances when first we cause to disregard the health of our planet. This story about the drop in calcium levels due to Acid Rain describes the nature of our conceit—we just don’t get it (that we are causing major disruptions in the very system we need to survive)—and probably won’t ‘get it’ until it’s too late.

Oh, Global Warming, an example of where we are ‘getting it?” Please. We’ve probably passed several critical points of no return, where the best we will be able to do is keep ourselves from cooking completely, and the economic crisis at present will further delude us into thinking that our economy is more important than solving our present environmental issues.

Indeed, the only environmental problems we seem capable of fixing are those that irritate us—one of which is the mere mentioning of environmental problems.

Read on: sciencetech Acid rain legacy hurting lakes - Canadian-led study finds calcium depletion in bodies of water result of the 1980s toxic crisis (Nov. 28, 08)

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