Tuesday, March 24, 2020

#84 / Gaia, Revisited

We are not the world, though we sometimes act as though we think we are. Because we are not, and because we inevitably encounter a real world outside ourselves, we seek to understand the world, and to explain it to ourselves, in various ways. One way is through the "stories" we tell ourselves, the folk wisdom of the past. "Science" and "Religion" are other ways we try to understand. Poetry and literature can also come into play as we try to discern and outline the parameters and reality of our existence. 

One way human beings have tried to understand our place in the world - how we, as humans, relate to what I generally call the World of Nature, the world upon which we ultimately depend - is the so-called "Gaia Hypothesis." Here is what Wikikpedia, a handily-available go-to guide to reality, has to say about this topic: 

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as the Gaia theory or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. 
The hypothesis was formulated by the chemist James Lovelock  and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. Lovelock named the idea after Gaia, the primordial goddess who personified the Earth in Greek mythology. In 2006, the Geological Society of London awarded Lovelock the Wollaston Medal in part for his work on the Gaia hypothesis.

If there were any truth to the Gaia hypothesis, then we should expect that Gaia, or "Mother Earth," would fight back against any significant threat to the "complex system that helps maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet." 

In case you haven't noticed, global warming does, in fact, pose a significant threat not only to our own human civilization, but also to all life on the planet. We have entered what has been called the time of the "Sixth Mass Extinction," caused by human activity, which means that the greatest danger to the continued existence of life on the planet appears to be us. 

So, keeping this thought in mind, might I commend to you an article recently appearing in Scientfic American: "Destroyed Habitat Creates the Perfect Conditions for Coronavirus to Emerge: COVID-19 may be just the beginning of mass pandemics."

We had better get it together, folks! It could well be true that we will either change our ways, and recognize and submit to the demands of Gaia, or, in that phrase from Abraham Lincoln that I quoted in a recent blog post, we will "perish from this Earth." 

Considering how sad it would be to lose, forever, the "glory that was Greece," the splendor and the glory of Rome, all that human history, and the glory of our own, contemporary accomplishments - and considering the glory and the promise that shines forth in the face of every newborn human being - we had better start paying attention. 


Image Credits:
(1) - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/destroyed-habitat-creates-the-perfect-conditions-for-coronavirus-to-emerge/
(2) - https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=445&language=English
(3) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blue_Marble

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