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October 03, 2011

A Realistic Historical Perspective

Our own history is what most humans remain focused on because of the way our brains have evolved. Although those of other vertebrates are very similar, the brightest primate can’t match either the conceptual power or capacity for learning possessed by Homo sapiens. In the final analysis, it's the unique ability to conceptualize- and then test various “what if?” scenarios- that gave our species the degree of control of our planetary environment we now possess. However, as that planet's current state now reveals, it hasn't been smooth sailing; especially since we began acquiring scientific competence a few hundred years ago.

That's because of the alarming overpopulation and an attendant environmental degradation that have accompanied our scientific prowess. We now face a series of existential problems as grave as any that threatened us with extinction in earlier times; however, our present numbers and shrinking natural resources, to say nothing of anthropogenic climate problems, are clearly more serious than we care to admit. Beyond that, years of extraordinary greed may have just poisoned our global economy to an unprecedented degree.

Before these serious problems can be addressed effectively, they will first have to be recognized by world leaders. Assuming that’s even possible, dealing with them constructively will require honest deliberations and the imposition of fair rules. Another lesson history teaches us about ourselves is that exploitation and repression do not succeed over the long term; rather, they breed opposition that eventually defeats oppressors one way or another; not because of Divine intervention on behalf of the righteous (the traditional explanation), but because human emotions inevitably lead apparent “winners” to overreach and "losers" to seek revenge.

Alternatively, we are now also learning- almost on a daily basis- how seriously our small planet’s Geology can affect living populations. Given the relative brevity of primates' time on earth and how quickly it could all be over, planning may not matter.

Before giving in to despair, however; it's also very human to remain optimistic and look for solutions. Where there's a will, there (may be) a way.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 3, 2011 06:27 PM