The new year is here and I still cannot believe it. 2014 came and went at a seemly quicker pace. The truth is that the speed of time as not changed. What has changed is how we experience it. We continue to allowed procrastination to decrease how much we achieve. We over think and neglect to take the actions that would allow us to attain more of our goals. As we second guess our decisions the universe continues forward at the same pace we found it. We are achieving less and the feeling that time is going by faster is just a reflection of our lack of focus on the important things.
For the new year we all should stop thinking and start doing. I am a parent and want to leave a better planet for my children. What are you planing to leave to your children? The discussion about climate change is just one of those issues where we could improve the world for our children. The facts are not in dispute, the climate of earth is changing. I do not dispute that human activity is the cause. If you dispute that I hope we can at least agree that the climate is changing.
With that in mind I would ask you, how do you think climate change will affect your children or grand children? I would suggest that the most likely direct effect will be on the quality and quantity of food and water available. The current estimate of people around the world going hungry is about one billion annually. Concurrent with that is the fact that some of the most productive agricultural areas are in regions whose water supply is dependent on seasonal rain and snow falls. It is already evident from current objective measurable data that these regions are close to breaking point in their water balance. The drought in California, which is the current bread basket of the United States is worrying. The gravity of the danger is not being addressed. But if the level of the water in Lake Mead Nevada is any example we should all be much more concerned.
Our water usage patterns are unsustainable and more forthrightly has led us to a very dangerous place. Agriculture is the primary user of water both for plant and animal production. Animal production is an especially egregious drain on our every decreasing available water sources. The continuing willful deafness of many of our leaders to the coming and already present crisis is criminal. The low intelligence of many of the people on mass media discussing the topic is genocidal in their effect. As we continue to neglect the obvious the problem worsens and the solutions become evermore burdensome. The unfortunate consequence is that the poor all around the world are already experiencing the trauma of food and water insecurity. Even the wealthier among us are being affected. The difference is that most of us can afford the increasing cost of our basic supplies. The larger question needs to be asked, what will happen when the squeeze truly gets to the richer among us?
I am of the scientific persuasion and believe that all the evidence points to mans central impact in leading to climate change. However, I will acquiesce to those who have not attain that clarity. I need only you agree that no matter the cause climate change is occurring and that we need to act to protect our global society.
I would suggest that we start by examining our consumption patterns. Change your lifestyle and change the world. We are all apart of the change that we need.
As the sun approached the horizon the sky turned a beautiful shade of orange with a generous spread of grey clouds. I was hoping that there would be no rain this evening. I had my camera and was looking forward to getting some great photographs but mostly I needed to complete my run. Running and photography were dear to me and I was never too far from doing either. I picked up the pace on the first leg of my evening 5k. As I passed the mile marker I heard the crack of thunder. I was startled but continued without missing a beat. I could hear the voice of my high school science teacher warning me to find shelter. I knew better but I picked up the pacing certain I could finish before it started to rain. Sweat was starting to bead over my forehead. It felt great to be out in the cool of the Florida fall. forgetting the threat of rain was easy as I lost myself in the energy of the music in my head. I returned to reality long enough for my phone to remind me that I was behind the pace of my last run.
As I increased the pace I could feel the increase in my heart rate and the comforting wetness in my shirt. Even the slight dryness in my mouth was reassuring. I swallowed just enough spit to moisten my throat. It was just enough to allow me to maintain my pace without excessive dryness. I continued at a good clip passing many the walkers and feeling great in my return to pace since I had had such a long lay off. I quickly was lost in rhythm of my heart beat and became singularly focused on the heart foot connection. I felt great. I no longer felt the pace. I was brought back to reality when my phone beeped alerting me that I had covered 2 kilometers and that my pace had exceeded my last run. It was a gratifying reminder. but I had felt the pace. Conformation was always welcomed but I lost focus and slowed for the next 4oo meters. Again my phone alerted me to pick up the pace. This is what I loved about technology. I had coded this app myself and had not shared it with anyone. It was my own private coach. We were doing a great job. I had given the app a personality and named her Shelly. It was a fitting place to be thinking of her. This is where we meet. Six months ago I had lost myself in my run and she was delivered to my memory in one long chain. I had been thinking of doing this for as long as I could think. It was a magical experience without any magic.
I felt a sharp jolt to my right shoulder and immediately became weak and lost all control of my body. I fell to the ground and could not move. As I laid there, on my stomach, I felt like there were flames on my back. I could smell the fumes of burning polyester. The was a hot spot under my stomach, it was my phone. The heat was intense, but I was not able to move. I smelled the burning of flesh and tried to move, but no movement happened. In my head I was struggling to get up, but in reality I could not moved a muscle. It felt like a lifetime, but I finally recovered to pulled myself onto all fours. As I looked down I noticed the melted phone and my ripped running shorts.
As I removed my shirt it felt as if I had also pulled off a layer of skin. I could feel the stiffness in the remains of the shirt. As my shirt slipped over my head the swell of cauterized flesh became overwhelming. The resulting nausea was powerful and exhaustive and I vomited copious amounts of greenish fluid. On the ground it looked like mossy stagnant water and the back of my throat felt as bad as it looked. The pain moved from being sharp to an intense burning and the world around me faded to grayish-blackness. The next sounds I heard were the alarm bells of a hospital monitor.
As humans we have a false sense of ourselves. We believe that we as individuals are important. We no longer believe that our planet is the center of the universe, but that science has not informed our view of the individual. Our religious belief that we are the central character in our destiny is elegant, yet simple and without merit. This view has carried over into our view that individual pursuits are important to the state of the world. More importantly, many believe that the individual is more important than the group.
The communists took the view that the individual was not as significant as the group, while the capitalists considered the person to be the center of the universe. Both ideas have some truth, but neither is complete. The truth is somewhere in the middle. An elegant and informative way to see our place in the biosphere is to look at natural occurrences like the current cicada invasion.
The current brood of cicada will descend on the east coast any moment. The sound will be loud and unmistakable. Most of us will hear a loud uncoordinated noise. The truth is that what we hear is generated by 3 different species singing their individual song. The chorus will appear to be homogeneous, but on close inspection it is not. When an individual from each specie is recorded the sound is nothing like that heard from the group. The elegance of the orchestra is lost on us because we see the world not as a group organism but as individuals trying to survive. Each individual sings a precise song that is essential to the mating process. The regeneration of the genome is each individuals only job. If each individual gets it correct the group will survive. If a specific individual does not perform the group will still survive. The individuals will die, but the group survives.
Without the group the individual remains insignificant and without hope. The me card is not just selfish, it is problematic for the survival of the human specie.
What will you do for us today?
As a city dweller you do not realize that the most beautiful art work is above your head. You do not realize because it is obscured by city lights. Then you visit the countryside and you do not realize that you can look up. Once the night sky has been introduced you wonder why you had not looked up before. Most startling is that so few people look up. There is nothing like the joy of the night sky. The beauty and majesty of the creation cannot be denied. The glorious depth and breathe of our galaxy is beyond our imagination. It is beyond our ability to contemplate. All we can do is dream inadequate dreams.
I fell in love with the solar system in the sixth grade, but it took losing our roof on September 12 1988 for me to appreciate the joy of looking into the depth of the star filled night sky. Being able to live under a sky unobstructed by light pollution makes my heart sing. I feel pride when my princesses ask to go out and see the moon and stars on a dark night. Too few of us take the time to look up.
On most nights when I look up I wonder if we are alone. Most nights I know we are not alone. The universe is too vast for humans to be alone. Nature certainly must have played the life card more than once. Is there a single all-knowing creator or is life a result of chance? On most nights I am not sure, but on most nights I know we are here and must enjoy the beauty of our brief existence.
The lifespan of any human individual is not comparable to the age of the universe. The lifespan of the human species will be just as insignificant. Too few appreciate that scale and on most nights it gives me pause. On most nights I want to spread the joy I receive from being able to look up and see the past.
The scale of time we can measure and appreciate is so narrow as to be truly insignificant. But on most nights I still love thinking about our place in this great machine called the universe. On most nights I get excited by the fact that there are more questions unanswered than answered. On most nights I am excited that my princesses are starting to ask the questions that need to be answered. On most nights I am happy to have my princesses. On most nights I am excited that they are excited about learning. On most nights I see the joy in their eyes and I am happy. On most nights I am certain we are not alone.
On most nights, do you look up?