Science is the lens through which I understand the world. Paleontology and evolutionary biology in particular deal with the deep history of life on earth-- with mortality, chance, and earths deeply interconnected webs of life, geologic, and climatic conditions. This is the basis from which I think about us humans. The study of nature was once, with good reason, a branch of philosophy.
Cognitive neuroscience reveals the frailty of our untutored understandings of life. We confabulate stories and myths. We are blind to the unexpected. Like many social animals we have a built-in sense of fairness, but it seems our truth sensors about the outer world are very faulty, and our ability to learn from past history almost nil.
We are failing to integrate ourselves with Earths complex ecosystems, the very systems that produce the conditions that support usthe air we breathe, the food we eat, our livable temperatures. These are not guaranteed conditions.
Earth has experienced multiple massive ecosystem collapses in the past. Conditions have been very different and very hostile to our sort of life multiple times, and could easily become so again. The oceans could turn purple with the microbes that thrive on anoxic conditions (think red tides), the air could turn poisonous with hydrogen sulfide (released en mass by the microbes); the vast majority of our current plants and animals could die and never return. New research strongly indicates that the most severe of past mass extinctions was a greenhouse extinction. The powerful and wealthy may fantasize survival under these conditions, but they are deluded.
Welcome to the Future!! We humans through our sheer numbers are now equivalent to the enormous forces that produced the worst of the past Mass Extinctions. We are powerful.
Earths life systems could to a large extent recover if we pull back and let them. We are much too ignorant at this point to engineer the recovery ourselves; humility is desperately needed. With proper paradigm change in how we conceive of ourselves and with uncorrupted leadership, we could figure out how to live sustainably.
February 01, 2019