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September 10, 2017

10:10 PM

Idle speculations do little to provide solace at times of crisis

Francisco Miraval

Just two weeks ago we wrote in this column about “curious” examples of what people posted online after the recent solar eclipse over the United States, including speculations about the imminent arrival of ETs. Now, after recent hurricanes and earthquakes, people are talking about the imminent “end of the world”.

For the past 4.5 billion years or so, this planet has experienced all kinds of changes and, of course, countless catastrophes. For example, 65 million years ago (or around that time), a meteorite impacted earth and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Since then, many other natural disasters impacted all life on earth,

Think, for example, about what happened at the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago or so, when massive glaciers, several miles high, that for millennia occupied large areas on both hemispheres, began to melt, cause the seas to rise all over the world, and, among other consequences, creating the Great Lakes.

In addition, the poles shifted more than once, continents clashed with each other (that’s why we have the Himalayas), and there have been untold numbers of volcanic eruptions, storms, earthquakes, floods, and fires. Continents disappeared, species disappeared, and civilizations disappeared. Yet, life on earth continues to this very day.

For that reason, it makes no sense to assume that whatever is happening now it never happened before. There have been catastrophes on earth since the moment the planet was formed. The difference is that this time we are witnessing those catastrophes. There is no need to quote any “prophecy” to explain hurricanes and earthquakes on this planet.

It is, however, important to recognize that, unlike what happened in the past, this time there is no place for us to run looking for protection. No place to flee. A natural disaster anywhere in the world now impacts the whole world. We are all affected.

A tsunami in Japan sends radiation contamination to the west coast of the United States. A volcano in the north Atlantic forces airlines to change their routes. And we face similar consequences after a flood in Bangladesh, a forest fire in Australia, or an unending heatwave in Europe.

Because we are part of a globalized, techno-scientific world, we know see the catastrophes live, almost as if we were watching a reality show. For that reason, catastrophes are unconnected from the past (people assume nothing like this ever happened before) and from the present too.

Regardless of your opinion about the causes, reality, or consequences of climate change, undoubtedly, humans are transforming this planet. But we can’t go back to the past. That’s impossible. And if we do nothing, then there will be no future to build.

In conclusion, the true catastrophe is not a planet where four hurricanes and an earthquake could happen in a period of two weeks. The real catastrophe is for the dominant “intelligent” species on the planet to refuse any dialogue with the planet. Perhaps our gatherer-hunter brains are useless for a time of trans-human self-destruction. 

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