Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Humanity: A virus with shoes

Something like years ago I heard Bill Hicks' Rant in E Minor, where he said "I'm tired of this back-slapping 'aren't humanity neat?' bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, OK? That's all we are."

About that same time, I was living in Vancouver, BC and watched a lecture from David Suzuki (a former detainee of Canada's WWII Japanese internment camps who went on to become a world-renowned geneticist and environmentalist) wherein he described the impact of humans on the environment and illustrated his point by noting We are like bacteria in a test tube. We multiply exponentially, using up our available food and resources at an increasing rate. And, like bacteria with a diminishing food supply, we won’t realise we are doomed, even after our environmental gluttony has sealed our fate.

Perhaps it's because I was born and spent my youth on the edge of a pristine wilderness area, or because I grew up surrounded by farm fields and hunters and heard the debates about fertilizers versus run off, conservation versus industrial prosperity, poisoning with lead shot versus maiming with steel shot, that I grew up paying attention and caring...deeply caring about the world around me including the plants and animals, the fields and streams and air. I don't know why.

In the summer of 1993, while traveling the great plains states on my summer job with the Great Plains Chautauqua, I had the opportunity to stop with some of the scholars and meet botanist and geneticist Wes Jackson, then a recent recipient of the MacArthur "genius grant" and co-founder of The Land Institute, author of the pessimistic Altars of Unhewn Stone. It was an enlightening, if dreary, visit. This stuff is not fun. It's not entertaining. I'm thankful that these people had the tenacity to dig into the massive problems they foresaw when others wouldn't. Wes and his students at The Land Institute have been toiling, really toiling, over the environmental issues before us, and I really feel the time is coming when the rest of us are going to have no choice but to wake up and pay attention. We think we have the option to look away. We don't, but we think we do.

Three weeks or so ago, Bruce Cordell (a game industry writer, yes, but one who holds a degree in Environmental, Population, & Organismic Biology (with a nod to Molecular & Cellular Biology) for you doubters) tipped us off to Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth. I'll admit right out that I'm one of the people who bought Gore's Earth in the Balance when it came out. I am going to see this movie. I hope you will see it, too, and that we can come together to change the course we're on.


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Anonymous Anonymous Says:

To say we are a virus is to miss the point and keep us on track for destruction. We are not Darwinian any more, the drivers within the social world are not the natural forces of the cosmos. Although a bio-mass our goals are different from those of natural selection. Evolutionary biologists will still be saying our only goal is to preserve our gene pool hours and minutes before we destroy the planet. The social world exists within nature yet goes beyond aided by technology. We might well be a virus with shoes, but our shoes take us to all kinds of places nature never intended. We have the shoes on the astronauts as we go to other planets, the shoes of the scientists who create life in test tubes, who end life, who create medicines to maintain life. In many ways we are as powerful as nature in many areas but environmental destruction is an example that our greed and selfishness is at present greater than our achievements to date. We are the only organism to make our own shoes out with nature. Shoes are a metaphor for the complex manmade physical world like no other in the history of the world. Although 99% chimp we are so different in our power and reach over the world from any primate its a continual failing to blind ourselves from this truth. We are killing the planet and it all started back on the Savannah Plains when we experimented with simple shoes. Virus with shoes? Praise indeed.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

Um... who are you? And what are you talking about?


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