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September 25, 2011

A Species Threatened by its own Cleverness

Understanding the genesis of humanity's modern dilemma isn’t that difficult. All it requires is the right perspective and a willingness to question traditional religious beliefs. If we accept empirical science as having started around the time of Galileo, we can see that as the basic sciences began evolving into information-sharing disciplines in the 18th-century, technologic progress became even more rapid and the nascent Industrial Revolution began gaining headway from about 1800 on. Generally, the more spectacular and profitable the science, the more firmly its direction and control remained with conservative religious and political leaders who tended to favor using it for weapons, colonization, economic exploitation, and wars of conquest.

The North American experiment in representative government that gave rise to the United States was an interesting opportunity for change, but the secret retention of chattel slavery by its founders inflicted a social and economic wound from which recovery has been difficult.

In any event, the net result for Planet Earth has been its rapid human overpopulation and environmental degradation, even as we are still learning about rare natural disasters that impacted animal populations in the past and have not disappeared. Current examples are the recently discovered presence of a Yellowstone mega volcano and the disputed evidence of rapid climate change now adding to our financial and emotional woes, even as they are being ignored or minimized by a majority of conservative politicians and media outlets.

As these problems have progressed in both their scope and the difficulty of finding timely solutions, the facility with which we seem able to ignore them has also increased. Examples abound; take the brisk illegal trade in both drugs and immigrants along our southern border with Mexico: both governments have been attempting to suppress those activities with a similar lack of success, but at quite different costs: for Americans it’s the financially expensive enforcement bureaucracy, but for Mexico, it has been thousands of cartel murders and the even more anonymous deaths of border crossing job seekers from exposure and dehydration. Nevertheless, both governments apparently regard their efforts as rational and worthwhile because they are continuing.

What it might take just to reconsider the drug war and admit its multiple failures in the present political climate is simply beyond comprehension.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 25, 2011 07:06 PM