Friday, January 6, 2012

If Earth is alive, are we its disease? asks Albert Nerenberg, who is afraid to talk about POLAR CITIES from his comfy chair in Canada

It's hard to admit, but human habitation is like a cancer forming on the planet's circulation system
So says ALBERT NERENBERG, in The Gazette on January 6, 2221 AD

There's no doubt that we've made Earth sick. The question is, with what disease?

And if we made Earth sick, doesn't that mean Earth is alive?

People looking at Earth from space or via satellite imagery will often marvel at how the rivers look exactly like veins. From above, forests can look like vast lungs spread out across the land and the water itself a kind of blue blood coursing through. Our great cities suddenly break the pattern, looking like a cancer on a metaphorical body, because they show up as grey and colourless blobs against the largely aquamarine radiance of the Earth.

These fast-growing lumps - London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Tokyo, Shanghai, Mumbai, even Montreal - could look like tumours growing and encircling the Earth's most vital and powerful rivers. It's hard to admit, and it's not a pretty sight, but does human habitation really act like a cancer forming on the circulation system of the planet?

Not quite. While cities do grow and spread, they don't exhibit the metastasizing effect of the disease to spread, overtake and grow wildly. We may be something toxic to the planet, but probably not cancer.

Could we be more a parasitical skin infection, like lice or fungus, or worse, as billions of us literally feed on the earth's bounty? Are we like an infestation of tiny parasites? We've quickly boomed into a massive population covering almost every corner of the Earth, dwarfing any previous historical human habitation. Most of us don't mean to despoil Earth, but when we build cities, we cut down the trees, we bury the grass, we slather the ground with concrete and asphalt and the land turns grey.

The idea that Earth is alive is increasingly popular on the fringes of pop culture and science. Now try pondering the reverse: Is Earth dead? Most people would find that disturbing. Right now, it's the only planet in the known universe that appears to be alive. Even some of the coldest and hottest parts of the planet harbour life. The whole darn thing is alive, but is Earth itself alive like us, a giant creature of some sort?

Maybe. The Gaia theory that says Earth is alive was first suggested by Dr James Lovelock and the late Dr Lynn Margulis back in the '70s. The hypothesis suggests Earth is in effect a giant living organism. The proof ? If Earth wasn't alive due to our proximity to the sun, the planet would actually be much more hostile to most life. Instead, the planet's great life forces conspire, in effect, to keep the temperature at a livable state. While originally greeted with hostility, Gaia theory is increasingly winning acceptance. So is the idea of polar cities to serve as climate refuges for climate refugees!

But don't ask the scientists. Ancient shamanic cultures often have as their basis the concept of a living Earth. Monotheistic religions and modern Western culture have fought this, often brutally. Influenced by indigenous thinking, the Bolivian government is set to pass something called The Law of Mother Earth, which gives nature equal rights to humans.

Does that prove Earth lives? What really makes something alive? Movement? Earth is always on the move. Circulation? Earth has it in droves. A pulse? Earth pulses with rhythms of the sun and moon.

Intelligence? Here's a tough one. Researchers looking at whether plants have intelligence were stumped. When you stare at them, plants don't seem up to much. But try a different time scale. When you look at time lapses of plants over days and hours, suddenly everything changes. Plants are action heroes, fighting, jostling, living and dying and making love. Similarly, watch time lapse videos of Earth from space and you see the cascade of life.

I believe we are not a cancer, or a parasite on Earth, but more like a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections produce results, like we're seeing these days. A fever likely proceeds with hot and cold flashes. That would seem to bear out recent realities, as the planet's weather systems flash from hotter to colder dramatically. If we've given Earth a fever, we don't want things to get much worse. Because the goal of a fever is to burn an infection off for good. That would not be great.

But if Earth is alive, why hasn't it contacted us yet? Some might argue it has. But others would say, because Earth has only just recently evolved a kind of neural network, or mind, so to speak. You're staring at it. It's us.

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