Humps and Dumps
...All the World''s scientists and all the World's engineers
couldn't put the broken Earth back together again....
We've managed to overcome a few humps of late – noteworthy being the Syrian Arab Republic as governed by President Bashar Hafez al-Assad and his Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party homeboys has yet to be nuked from orbit or conventionally bombed back to the Neolithic for using various deadly (and illegal) gases on its own people, the American Congress actually agreed upon something or another a few weeks back (though what it was escapes me...), and though NBC has canceled the popular television series, Community, word has it that Yahoo Screen (an on-demand streaming service) will pick it up for another season. As far as dumps are concerned, I'm personally disappointed in the ongoing equivocation regarding both the infamous Keystone Pipeline System and also whether or not the controversial fossil-fuel extraction method nicknamed “fracking” is safe or not, has called into question my consideration of President Barack Obama as either a true and righteous man or just another weaselly politician. The Supreme Court (hereafter SCOTUS) has been somewhat irrational in many of their decisions of late, though especially heinous has been the taking away of a woman's I.U.D. from items covered by certain insurance plans, which appears to kowtow to the Religious Right and is extremely unscientific (re.: Winner et al. 2012. "Effectiveness of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception." By Winner, B; Peipert, JF; Zhao, Q; Buckel, C; Madden, T; Allsworth, JE; Secura, GM. New England Journal of Medicine. 366, 21: 1998-2007). Humps and dumps... Sometimes you get the Tea Party and sometimes the Tea Party gets you...
Okay, there are many nasty conflicts around the world and policing all of them would be nigh unto impossible. Some we can respond to and I hope we do... Natural and man-made disasters are of a different ilk, however. Maybe Mount Rainier will finally blow its top, but surely Nature has another deadly surprise in wait. The continuing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is consistently under-valued as to its catastrophic impact since March 2011 and its effects on humans, crops, land and sea-life, and it spread throughout the Pacific. I'm shocked, disappointed, and scared that the brightest minds on the planet can't figure out a way to contain this monster.
Back to SCOTUS ...and its outrageous June 26, 2014 decision in McCullen v. Coakley which essentially overturned a Massachusetts law which established a thirty-five foot perimeter around entrances to abortion clinics in which women could not be harassed, threatened, and subjected to hate-speech. SCOTUS unanimously ruled the law as a violation of free speech. WTF! This isn't Skokie – it's dark psychological terrorism. His Holiness Pope Francis has discouraged the Catholic harassment of the LGBT community, yet ignores the attacks upon abortion clinics. How convenient to have forgotten John Salvi and his 1994 abortion clinic killings (along with a host of other fundamentalist murderers). In most courts such harassment would be deemed illegal, but SCOTUS believes certain hate-speech to be free speech and also enjoys the breadsticks at The Olive Garden...
To better understand our 'broken” Earth, NASA has launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite to measure the emission and uptake of carbon dioxide worldwide, paying particular attention to various “sinks” or places around the globe where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. To quote from NASA's press release: "Scientists currently don't know exactly where and how Earth's oceans and plants have absorbed more than half the carbon dioxide that human activities have emitted into our atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial era," said David Crisp, OCO-2 science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "Because of this we cannot predict precisely how these processes will operate in the future as climate changes. For society to better manage carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, we need to be able to measure the natural source and sink processes."
How this data will influence the current debate over global warming – that is, whether it's entirely due to man's industrial blunders, just another aspect of our current interglacial period after the “Little Ice Age” of ca. 1550-1850, or a combination of both – remains to be argued in the journals and Fox News. I'm confident that our “Dark Satanic Mills,” use of fossil fuels, massive deforestation, and how we continue to treat out oceans like toilets CERTAINLY does not help Mom Terra stay healthy, but I wonder if She's just being moody and such behavior is both inevitable and natural. Perhaps NASA's OCO-2's data will help us determine if our Earth is indeed broken, to what extent, and whether or not we can assist in repairing some damage which has already been done.
As the self-titled reigning sentient beings on this planet, Homo sapiens sapiens, we've long been subjected to diseases, one which we've actually eradicated (smallpox),and a great many that we 'could' eliminate through a greater effort by health workers and educators (re.: polio, malaria, yaws,hookworm, and, sadly, ...measles). It's with much sadness to hear the director of the Center for Disease Control speculate that the only way to convince the masses who follow such anti-vaccinationists celebrities as Jenny McCarthy and Katie Curic is for a massive measles epidemic to occur and perhaps wth the sight of bodies in our streets, the anti-science anti-vaccinationists might finally listen to reason. Strange days, indeed, when science is trumped by superstition and rumor.
Some writers of science fiction and fantasy have traveled the evolutionary migration route and envisioned humans as akin to pollinated spores spreading throughout the universe and 'seeding; various worlds with our species (and perhaps other Earth-based life-forms, i.e., Terraforming). Of course, this assumes a science of propulsion which could transport us safely across many light-years of relatively unknown space. It is not uncommon for a species to migrate or perish as their environment changes around them. We will leave Earth eventually, though the question remains 'when'. Dr. Tim Leary's “SMILE” acronym:
Space Migration plus Increased Intelligence equals Life Extension
remains as valid today as when he first conceived it in his The Intelligence Agents (1979; Culver City, CA: Peace Press).
We can hope that science may one day devise filters to clean our water, air, and perhaps undo the damage we've done to the soil, though such optimism seems as unrealistic as putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Still, where and when there's hope, there remains a chance...