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The Plague Upon Eden
by Manuel Valenzuela
13 Dec 2005
excellent critique of humanity and our role in the destruction of the environment and the acceleration of global warming
Such a spectacular and magnificent entity is the planet we call Earth, a wonderment of natural beauty and symbiotic balance yet to be surpassed by the creative genius of humankind. It is a planet teeming with the colors of life, its oceans and continents gems of existence, an overabundance of beating hearts and flowing energy. The planet we call our only home is a living, breathing, dynamic cocktail of universal energy, for billions of years spinning and molding itself according to the laws and realities of science, adapting, shifting and shaping itself through the long days of darkened chaos and the unmistakable genesis of light, becoming, through the slow processes of evolution, the eventual home to millions of life forms, encompassing a wide range of periods, extinctions and eras of flourishing order.
Welcome to the Eden of tangible reality, a terrestrial paradise not of myth or fable but of evolution, physical change and awe-inspiring natural splendor, created by the sands of time long and lonesome, not in days but in eons, molded by cycles of energy, not the hands of supernatural prehistory.
Traversing epochs of time unfathomable to the human mind, Earth has been witness to wave after wave of natural calamity, constant shifts in tectonic plates, weather alterations and even mass extinctions from asteroid impacts. It has hosted many dominant species of life forms, most of them living long before the arrival of man, offering sustenance and prosperity, becoming a breadbasket of survival and of death, enabling creatures of all shapes and sizes to thrive or die off for millions upon millions of years in a circle of life from which all living things arise. She is an old, wise planet, bearing witness to billions of years of change, herself evolving and constantly alive, from the nadir of the oceans to the zenith of the highest mountain, her surface becoming the cradle of life where even death helps spring forth new energy.
She has seen life grow from the earliest, smallest single cell organism to the mammalian world of today, her soils and waters granting the sustenance enabling our species to thrive. Her balance of life and energy has allowed us to evolve from rat-like mammals to ape-like entities to our present adaptation, in the process transforming primitive primates into overlords of the planet, slowly but surely extending our reach to all corners of the globe.
Our planet has always thrived with a balance of all things living as well as that of all the energies it possesses, for on Earth all vibrant mechanisms are interconnected, each dependent on all others, from flora to fauna to insects to ecosystems to weather to oceans to winds to currents to tectonic plates to magnetic fields to the moon to the air we breathe and the food we eat, much the same way that wings of a butterfly can cause the formation of a hurricane clear across the world. The interconnectedness of all the Earth’s energies has allowed the planet to thrive in its natural splendor for millennia, always keeping its surface in perfect balance, maintaining its fragility protected and becoming an Eden for the eyes of the universe to gaze down on. Its delicate balance was sustained in eternal synergy, allowing the planet to function in perfect harmony, upset only by cataclysmic events or by the plague called man.
What a site to behold to have seen Earth in its virgin state of nature, well before the arrival of humans, its surface an oasis of life, its atmosphere a radiant splendor upon the eyes, its forests and jungles unending and lush, its plains and savannas saturated and teeming with a cornucopia of creatures. The Eden of days long gone must have been the peak of the planet’s long history. Unscarred, untouched, unmarked, unpolluted and undamaged, the planet existed without borders, fences, dams and boundaries, free of the human ego, free of the flag and the cross, its lands, air and waterways uncompromised by the toxins spewed by man, its creatures free to roam and live, fighting for survival in the harsh existence that is the circle of life, free to evolve according to natural selection, not human intervention.
Earth before modern man was a reality just over 100,000 years ago, when most of the planet had yet to experience the arrival of human beings, before it had yet to bear witness to what would soon become a plague springing from east Africa that, in each new land it set foot in, rapidly unleashed destruction upon land and extermination upon life. For the primate with the large brain possessed greater intelligence than all mammals, yet still retained its animal urges, needs, wants, behaviors, emotions and passions, thus making it that much more dangerous to the environment it walked on and the planet that birthed it.
In short time it made extinct the once bountiful herds and numerous species native to the area, altering ecosystems, damaging environments and wreaking havoc on once pristine lands, for it can be said that wherever man walks destruction soon follows. Wherever Homo sapiens journeyed on Earth, from Africa to Europe to the Middle East to Asia and the Americas, mass extinctions soon ensued, for within its unquenchable hunger for meat, sustenance and salvation existed its inability to envision the consequences of its actions. As is still prevalent among our species, forethought was but an afterthought and our longing for conquering the present invariably exceeded our inability to comprehend the future.
The Evisceration of Eden
For billions of years the planet had existed without man, allowing the invisible hands of time to dictate change, for hundreds of millions of years allowing natural selection determine the fate of life. With the arrival of man onto virgin lands, however, what had taken eons to create began to be eviscerated in a matter of years. In the blink of a historical eye, humankind became the dominant species on the planet, introducing to the world a primate capable of manipulating the complex mechanisms of nature, a mammal using brain intelligence along with social skills to thrive at the expense of the environment it now controlled, yet failing to understand, even with its propensity for higher intelligence, its effects for the tomorrow, blinded instead by the glare of the today. For Homo sapiens remained but an animal in behavior and emotion, its psychology dictated by tens of millions of years of evolution, from our reptilian origins to our mammalian needs.
Incapable of understanding the long term, only managing to comprehend the present, short term, preferring to try and manage problems only when they arose, thereby failing to preempt them before materializing, human beings spread to all corners of the planet, growing exponentially in numbers, in short time beginning to place tremendous stress on nature and the environment. For millennia humanity subsisted exclusively on hunting and gathering but with growing numbers of family and tribe members, with increasing numbers of rivals, with less territory and an ever-dwindling supply of game surviving became a growing problem. These stresses thus gave birth to agriculture about 10,000 years ago. With agriculture civilization rose from the crumbs of tribes and clans, giving rise to the city-state, birthing the human ecosystem that has been our home for millennia.
Growing villages and cities meant a need for wood for fuel, heating and cooking. Timber was needed for shelter and fortifications; land was needed to expand the crop yields necessary to feed an ever-growing population. Thus began the clear-cutting of most of the world’s massive forests and untold numbers of trees in other parts of the globe. This phenomenon, which has devastated forests and ecosystems alike, leading to the extermination of an untold number of animal and plant species, has yet to stop; indeed, it has only accelerated with the rise of machines and the enormous demand for wood products by billions of humans, without even so much as a concern for the damage we are inflicting or the understanding of the long term – and permanent – destruction upon ecosystems whose balance and harmony will never again regain their synergy.
Today, the forests and jungles of Africa, North America, Europe, Russia, China, Indonesia, Asia and South America have been or are in the process of being utterly destroyed, centuries-old trees chopped down in a matter of seconds. Entire forests, acting as the lungs of the planet and the clusters of diversity, home to millions of living organisms, have disappeared to the degenerative needs and wants of man, our gluttonous appetite for lumber as ceaseless as it is destructive. For millennia dependent on wood resources, it seems our modern civilization and sophisticated cultures have yet to escape the primitive need for timber.
Not satisfied with the extinction of northern hemisphere forests, our addiction to all things wood being so all-encompassing, we have for decades now turned our attention to the jungles of the southern hemisphere, particularly those of Latin America and tropical Africa and Asia, in the process eviscerating plant and animal life on a massive scale. Our inability to comprehend the consequences to our actions is so great, and the damage done is so pervasive, that in less than a few decades we will succeed in mass exterminating most if not all of the flora and fauna we have come to know and love, including our closest mammal relatives, the gorilla and chimpanzee, the latter of which we happen to share 98.5 percent of our genetic sequence with.
Today, humanity’s greed and quest for natural resources continues to devastate the world’s forests and jungles, now comprising a semblance of their original appearance, some being logged under enormous stress to their continued viability. In a few years time the beauty and wonderment of these canopy cathedrals will cease to exist, becoming a historical relic seen only in the receding minds of elders and the recorded images of video. What will happen to a world devoid of armies of trees, their rich diversity exterminated? In a few decades, the complete mass extinction of the animal world in the wild will arrive into our reality, robbing the planet and future generations of the Garden of Eden that has existed for hundreds of millions of years. Our collective complicity is today relegating the great mammals of the planet to small patches of protected land, their ecosystems coming under immense human pressure more and more each day.
The time will soon arrive, much to the sadness and humiliation of those whose grey hair and wrinkled faces mark the accumulation of age, wisdom and experience, when the only way to see and observe animals, birds and plants will be through the looking glass of city zoos, with moats, fences and glass imprisoning once wild and free creatures. Our future progeny’s only experience with the planet’s animals will be in the circus-like environment of zoos, with artificial environments, settings and altered behaviors, observing not mammals in their splendor but only as a small microcosm of their former selves, seen not in their natural habitat but rather through their confined, man-made fish bowls.
Soon those that will have allowed extermination to occur through their complicity, passivity and silent apathy will look at the faces of their children in shame, cognizant that it was our generation that failed to act, as most human generations inevitably do, helping transform Earth into a planet devoid of life except that for that plague called humanity. As usual, one more generation will have failed to act in the interests of those yet to come, always mesmerized by the present, never learning from the past, invariably condemning the next generation of human beings to a world less balanced, less beautiful and ever-closer to the inevitable self annihilation of the human race.
Our civilization has, in the last three hundred years, set free terror upon the lands and waterways of Earth, her balance and harmony in serious peril. Human beings have scorched the planet’s fragile energies and mechanisms, unleashing consequences upon the globe we are only now beginning to understand. Through our mass introduction of carbon dioxide emissions we have opened up a hornet’s nest of natural calamities that we are, and will be, impotent to try and alleviate. Global warming is causing the planet to change rapidly in ways our mammalian minds cannot fully fathom; its intricate and delicate mechanisms are slowly but surely being manipulated by our primitive activities, its cycles are being altered contrary to the normal manifestations of time. Our dependence on natural resources threatens to spawn transformations to Earth’s energy and natural cycles that will give rise to the eventual downfall of man.
The signs of transforming energies are all-encompassing, clear warnings that what we are doing to the planet is altering mechanisms that have been in place for millions of years. Research and readings have found that carbon dioxide levels on Earth are the highest they have been in over 650,000 years. The poles are losing record amounts of ice every year that passes, their temperatures rising exponentially, their ice sheets melting and ice shelves cracking due to warmer climate, threatening to flood the world’s coastal cities. Today, for example, some islands in the South Pacific have begun to experience flooding of their coasts, forcing entire towns to relocate to higher ground. Greenland’s enormous glaciers have been receding, as have those around the world, from Alaska to the Alps, from the Himalayas to Patagonia. Once frozen tundra and permafrost in Siberia and Alaska have begun to thaw, releasing record amounts of atmosphere heating gases. As a result of this thawing, tens of thousands of Inuit are under threat, their villages and towns sinking, their infrastructure collapsing. Snow levels are decreasing more every passing winter, meaning less fresh water in spring and summers.
The world is experiencing warmer winters and summers; migratory birds are becoming confused about the times of migration; spring seems to arrive earlier every year. Throughout the planet plants and animals are shifting their ranges and ecosystems to higher elevations and colder environs in response to the warmer temperatures being felt worldwide. Gulf of Mexico waters are experiencing an increase in temperatures, thereby spawning much more powerful and destructive hurricanes, in greater number, their season lasting longer than ever before. Tornadoes seem to be increasing in the Midwest of America; flooding is more severe worldwide. Ocean currents are being altered due to shifts in temperatures; proto-plankton, that most vital component of the oceans’ food chain, is disappearing; coral reefs are dying at alarming rates; the Gulf Stream is slowing down, threatening to make uninhabitable parts of the northern hemisphere, including Britain. Drought is increasing worldwide, rainwater is becoming more scarce, crops and farming are being damaged; billions of poverty stricken human will soon be forced to emigrate from their homes, eventually heading northward to escape disease, in search of water and food.
Earth is approaching a vortex of fluctuation whose point of no return fast approaches. However, instead of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions human interference in the climate system continues to escalate, seemingly with reckless abandon. In fact, energy conglomerates have invested millions of dollars to fight the few mechanisms implemented to fight global warming. They have bought off prostitute politicians in America, and are attempting to do the same throughout the world, lobbying governments to trash protocols and timetables. They continue to deny the reality of global warming, seeing it not as a threat to humanity but as a threat to their bottom line.
The time scales on which humans have changed the composition of the atmosphere are extremely short compared to the natural time cycles of the climate system. We are accelerating natural cycles that are being manipulated and compromised by our activities. Our concern for tomorrow seems non-existent; our only concern is for the present. Our inability to plan ahead, to foresee the ramifications to our actions or to possess the vision of a dreadful future is condemning our species, and planet, to forces that will tear our civilization apart in the coming decades. Global warming is, in no uncertain terms, the greatest threat facing the human race, quite possibly the most colossal menace we have ever encountered.
Our primitive brains have yet to fully conceptualize the fact that we are meddling with phenomenon whose fragile balance, synergy and interconnectedness is of utmost importance for the health of the planet. Combined, all of Earth’s mechanisms create a planet in harmony; all energies acting in unison with each other enable the planet to function as it has for untold epochs, its parts acting as one, like a single engine dependent on the proper working order of the many parts that comprise it. Yet instead of controlling our emissions, instead of slowing them down, instead of learning how our activities affect each part of the whole engine, we are paradoxically increasing them, warming the planet ever more and slowly pulling the guillotine’s lever, releasing its razor blade upon our collective jugular.
Not satisfied with the level of pollution and carbon dioxide emissions spewed by the world today, blinded by the quest to further our comfortable, gluttonous ways, we continue pushing the increase of carbon, oil and gas consumption ever more, with the worst culprit of them all, the United States – which has five percent of the world’s population yet produces twenty-five percent of all worldwide carbon dioxide emissions – seeking to control all remaining gas and oil fields, all the while fighting the international community over the principles of alleviating global warming, its purpose the continued expansion of its voracious economy and by implication, its greenhouse gas emissions. Captured by greed, industrialized nations of the north seek to maintain comfort and privilege; meanwhile, developing nations seek the treasures and lifestyles of the north. Combined, both north and south will achieve only misery, meager subsistence and a future of dastardly consequences.
Today we are becoming aware what our manipulation of climate and atmosphere is accomplishing, yet the biggest beasts on the planet, China and India, have yet to fully enter the carbon dioxide delivery business. Slowly they are integrating their economies, and rapidly they are consuming vast sums of carbon, oil and gas, growing at tremendous speed, every day releasing greater amounts of gasses. When the day arrives, when both nations are at emission levels comparable with or greater than present day America, the planet will invariably be set on course to a future untenable and devastating, the future of humanity compromised and threatened. For fossil fuels are the devil’s excrement and slowly, yet surely, China and India’s addictions to these sources of energy grow, creating, though not yet visible, Hell on Earth, a place entirely of our own making, birthed through our ignorance and voracious plague-like appetite, rising from the only home we have to unleash devastation upon the human race.
The internal combustion engine has succeeded in evolving society, pushing our civilization into the realm of technology and modernity, yet the accomplishments it has yielded in the short term have likely condemned humankind’s long-term vitality. Always thinking solely about the short term rewards of present accomplishment, humanity fails, again and again, to visualize the long-term price of our euphoria, progressively condemning the future through the accumulated lack of enlightenment of past and present generations. We have evolved civilization, yet civilization has yet to evolve us.
The rise of machines has allowed humanity to control – and devastate – nature on a massive and unparalleled scale, usurping the natural balance of change away from the normal processes of Earth and monopolizing them in a way at complete odds with what has always been. We have manipulated nature in ways never before seen by nature herself, compromising her natural processes and altering the natural progression of her cycles. When we act in such a way, when we clear cut the Amazon, for example, we are meddling in consequences, to ecosystems, the forest itself, living creatures and the health of the planet, in ways that we are just recently beginning to understand.
It seems we fail to judge the overall picture of any action we take, and how even the smallest alteration or manipulation in one corner of the globe can have the greatest consequence throughout Earth. The larger picture is rarely, if ever contemplated, and its repercussions are made to become mere inconveniences in the further exploitation of nature. For we are creatures myopic and short-sighted, lacking the vision or the “outside the box” mentality to overcome our various short-comings.
According to man, Earth is ours, endowed to us by the Almighty itself, to use, abuse, exploit and to do with her as we please. Nature, therefore, has been placed in this world for our exclusive use and manipulation, a luxury given us by the gods birthed inside the minds of our most creative priests and shamans. In our dementia, we are the greatest species to ever arise, dominant and created to rule over all Earth, its living beings conveniently placed at our beckon call, to enslave, exploit, ruin and make extinct. Delusional and egotistical, we are made to believe, from cradle to grave, that we are omnipotent, a species chosen in the image of our man-made god, placed at the throne of Earth, able to leap giant mountains and the deepest valleys, a higher form of life needed to engineer the destiny of both Earth and all its living beings.
In truth, we are a rat race, living an ego trip, sailing on a rocket ship, miles from reality, selfish and voracious, a species without clothes, remaining primitive and mammalian, possessing the same behaviors, instincts, passions and emotions as our animal brethren. We are a plague upon the Earth, like locusts ravenously gorging on the spoils of Eden, becoming over millennia gluttonous despoilers of life, exploiting a planet endowed to all creatures, not just ourselves. We have spread like a cancer to all corners of the globe, as always to be followed by the destruction we unleash, the mass extinctions we commit and the insatiable appetite we possess.
Our thirst for blood, violence and death has resulted in our own miserable, good for nothing wars, the evisceration of entire environments and the death of hundreds of billions of our fellow living beings. Wherever our feet touch devastation soon seems to follow, transforming fertile and lush land into concrete, asphalt, glass and steel, giving rise to the human ecosystem, the city, with its concrete jungles, brick canopies and steel-enforced canyons. We are a rat race, living amongst streets of trash, making toxic our air and environment, polluting our bodies with the poisons of humanity, assisting in the premature death of hundreds of thousands each year, gutting our immune systems through the housing we build and the furnishings we purchase, subsisting by eating the refuse the corporate world decides to feed us with. Our vehicles saturate the streets, emitting the carbon dioxide that hovers like a dome over our cities, its brownish hue festering over our daily lives, slowly poisoning the unlucky many socially engineered to inhabit the inner city. The stress of dwelling in the human ecosystem is slowly degenerating us all. A plethora of noise emanates from all corners of our habitat, as do putrid odors and the unattractive spectacle of modern American architecture, with its overabundant mini-malls, cookie-cutter housing and franchise businesses.
Our ecosystems continue to grow, swallowing the natural world, erasing from the surface entire forests and savannas and deserts and swamps and marshes and fragile habitats. Our cities are now mega-cities, millions of humans living in closed quarters, our increasing numbers exerting tremendous pressure on the planet. We are now 6.3 billion human beings, 10 billion by 2050, a species bred to consume the bounty of the planet, forced to survive at the expense of Eden. Six point three billion primates, remaining primitive and animalistic, refusing to halt the plague-like destruction of the planet we have systematically been performing since we left the jungles of Africa. With so many people the human race is forced to destroy the planet to survive, replacing forests with concrete jungles, tearing down ecosystems, building human habitats, the globe’s fertile lands burned and used to feed the mass of humanity, its animals sacrificed to the dictates of modern man.
The human plague is its own worst enemy, and that of Earth, inevitably condemning itself to a planet on the verge of collapse, its living organisms becoming extinct due to human interference. The self-proclaimed, ego-deluded ruler of the planet is clandestinely killing itself, slowly exploiting the planet beyond repair and rapidly helping to spread its self-extinction through the manipulation of Earth’s energies and cycles. Homo sapiens, thinking itself highly intelligent and modern, truly beyond primitive, has instead shown its true colors, now facing an enemy of its own making, a threat it cannot defeat, a challenge seemingly already lost.
If history proves anything, it is that humankind always follows a certain path, never deviating, always leading to death, destruction and the lack of vision. It shows that forethought is but an afterthought, that today is much more important than tomorrow and that securing the next two, three or five generations is not as important as realizing the immediate, short-term wants and needs of present-day humans. An alteration of cataclysmic proportions of both human psychology and enlightenment would be needed to reverse the seemingly inevitably drive toward self-destruction we are headed towards. Global warming must somehow be halted and contained, yet its momentum is only growing, resembling that of a runaway freight train. The destruction of the last vestiges of forest and jungle, including the last patches of animal habitat, must be stopped.
Humanity must learn to live in harmony with Earth and its living organisms, understanding the balance and synergy inherent in all of the planet’s mechanisms. Our actions must be understood for what they are doing, and a vision of the future must be implemented, choosing to save our children rather than condemning them to a life harsh, dangerous and full of misery. A new human enlightenment must rise from our collective conscious, transforming the way we live and behave, giving birth to an awareness of the interconnectedness of all living energies, whether organic or those mechanisms of the planet. Whether we heed the warnings or alter our destructive path in time to reverse the seemingly irreversible is entirely up to us, of course, yet, given our easily decipherable history and predictable psychology, the odds are not in humanity’s favor. History is the greatest witness to our inabilities, errors, demons and weaknesses.
If world history were a 24-hour clock, human existence would only comprise the last couple of minutes, yet in that minimal amount of time we have unleashed devastation upon the lands and creatures of the planet. In those few minutes we have gutted the lands of a once pristine terrain, claiming for ourselves everything and anything, whether living or not, that lies on or below the surface. Eden was given to us, she was our responsibility, as caretakers and guardians, yet we have somehow managed to place her in her last throes. She birthed, nourished and allowed us to thrive, yet our corrosive actions on her surface for millennia is how we have repaid her.
It has only been in the last 300 years, with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, that humanity’s acceleration towards complete destruction of both the planet and itself has become easily visible. What man could not accomplish by hand or by beast of burden could be easily performed by machine. The rise of machines greatly increased our devastation of the planet’s environment. More damage has been unleashed upon the lands, waterways and atmosphere of Earth in the last 300 years than has been done since our most primitive rat-like ancestors escaped the mass extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
We have become a plague upon Earth, a virus that is sickening the planet. She is now hemorrhaging from years of devastation and utter contempt by humanity to her plight. Unfortunately for us, she has decided to purge the cancerous plague from her surface, cleansing Eden of the species causing her sickness. Yet primitive and unwise we remain, reliant on primitive forms of energy and resources, refusing to use our immense talents for the betterment of all. We now find ourselves impotent to the forces, unleashed by us, which in the coming decades will rid Earth of the malignancy afflicting her natural beauty, thereby returning balance and interconnectedness and normalcy back to a most beautiful Garden of Eden.
This work is in the public domain