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An Earth Day thought: “Save The Earth” is a stupid slogan

save-the-earth

On this Earth Day 2013, it behooves us all to redouble our efforts to promote environmentalism and combat global warming.

But let’s quit kidding ourselves that our goal is to “save the Earth,” as the popular slogan goes. That’s not our goal. Rather, our goal is to keep this planet hospitable to us humans and to other plant and animal life. Earth doesn’t need saving. We do.

There’s a passage in Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park” that says it all:

You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There’s been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years.

Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away — all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval.

Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years.

Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety.

Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It’s powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that’s happened?

Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself.

In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn’t have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We’ve been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we’re gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.

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21 Comments

  1. Here is more of Michael Crichton on environmentalism as a religion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vv9OSxTy1aU

  2. Here is Michael Crichton on global warming.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzTPPl05Wok

  3. doc: A few years before he died, Michael Crichton most famously posited his global-warming denialism in a novel, “State of Fear,” which is roundly debunked here:

    http://harvardmagazine.com/2005/03/overheated-rhetoric.html

  4. Brian Opsahl

    Everyday we have an event tied to our cilmate change,yet the head in sand crowed pretends it’s not really happening…it’s called weather extreams and they called some 20 to 25 years ago…hello Mcfly…!!

  5. Neftali

    I just ran across this article from a couple years back where the President of the Flat Earth Society, Daniel Shenton, believes in climate change.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2010/feb/23/flat-earth-society

  6. “On this, the 36th anniversary of Earth Day, it is only fitting to speak of one of its founders, Ira Einhorn.

    You won’t find Ira Einhorn’s name listed in any of the Earth Day promotional literature, as the organizers have taken great pains to distance themselves from this man, at least since he became better known for composting his girlfriend in a trunk in his closet for a couple of years in the late 1970s.

    Earth Day organizers and publicists don’t want to have anything to do with Ira these days. Since he was convicted of murder, he hasn’t been very useful to them. But that wasn’t always the case. In 1970, during the first Earth Day event, which was televised throughout the globe, Ira Einhorn was on stage as master of ceremonies.”

    http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/2023/Ira-Einhorn-Earth-Days-Dirty-Secret.aspx

  7. Brian,
    Please tell us what you personally do to combat climate change.
    Please include the following information.
    How far do you live from your place of work?
    How big is your house?
    How much energy do you use to heat/cool it?
    What other unnecessary electrical devices do you use?
    What kind of car do you drive?
    When do you drive it?
    Do you walk when possible? Use mass transit when possible? Carpool when possible?
    Are you a vegan?
    Do you compost and recycle?
    Do you ever fly?

  8. Craig Knauss

    What’s your point, doc? Why don’t you answer your own questions?

    FYI, I used a van pool to get to work. My house has 6″ insulation in the walls and R-30 in the attic, and all thermo-pane windows. It’s mostly electric everything here, but our electricity comes from the Columbia nuclear plant and the hydro dams on the Columbia R. I have a high efficiency heat pump. No fossil fuels. And my utility bills are a small fraction of what they were back east. My car gets 30+ mpg, and I drive it when necessary. We compost and recycle religiously and I only fly when absolutely necessary.

    Now tell us what you do.

  9. Craig,

    I am disappointed that you have bowed to the man and use power generated at a nuclear power plant. You are going to be pissed when that thing melts down. I guess I would expect you to be fully solar powered and maybe even off the grid with a windmill of your own.

    30 mpg is OK but you should really buy a Prius or Volt.

    I eagerly await Brian’s answers too.

  10. Brian Opsahl

    I have my vices Doc, I am very hypocritical on my personal uses. My daughter has at least 3 maybe 4 curling irons going at all hour’s of the day and I can’t do a dam thing about it. I have replaced most of my lighting to lower wattage bulbs and whenever I can afford a change to improve my usage in any utility’s my next venture is Geo-thermal heating and cooling.

    At work I help our company do a very good job of changing how we recycle just about everything, I have seen tremendous improvement from the way they see this issue.

    Fact is we should all be doing a lot more to change all of our way of doing things in the future.

    I think we should get out front with new technology’s that will generate jobs,jobs,jobs…!!

  11. wilson: Your comment about Ira Einhorn is the dumbest you’ve ever submitted here, which is no easy feat.

    So an environmentalist was convicted of murder. So what? How does that reflect poorly on environmentalism?

    And as for the fact that “Earth Day organizers and publicists don’t want to have anything to do with Ira these days,” that’s no different from the Republican Party’s snub of George W. Bush at its convention last year or the GOP’s official silence about Richard Nixon these past 40 years.

    Yeah, this comment of yours is beyond dumb. But I’m sure you think it’s a clever argument against those darned tree-hugging environmentalists.

  12. Merely suggesting a30mpg car has anything to do with the history of human kind is dumb.

  13. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    Where are YOUR answers to your questions? Didn’t have any did you? I’m disappointed in your lack of ability to prepare a coherent response.

    BTW, I’ve been involved in commercial and defense nuclear power since 1990, while you were playing proctologist.

  14. Craig Knauss

    Oh, one other thing, doc. My car has been getting 30+ mpg since 2001. And I don’t have a bit of trouble driving over the mountains. So chew on that.

  15. Craig,

    My answers are similar to Brian’s.

    I have one car, a Toyota Sequioa , that is a gas hog but that I feel is required to haul my family around. I currently drive a 2010 Ford Explorer that gets 20 MPG.
    I live about equidistant from the 3 hospitals I cover but need to drive about 15,000 miles per year to perform my work.

    I recycle pretty religiously, and have for years. I have high efficiency appliances and use as little energy as possible at home.

    I could go on, but the rest of the answers are rather uninteresting and standard.

    The point is that none of that is going to matter.

    Climate change will proceed as it always has. Green energy will eventually become more useful, but for now it cannot come close to meeting the needs of the developed world, much less the third world. When it is ready for widespread use, we will continue to have climate change. We would be better off using our resources to figure out how to deal with the change rather than how to stop it.

    BTW, I wasn’t even yet finished with medical school in 1990 and I am not a proctologist. My fingers aren’t long enough.

  16. Pat, tell the Hawaii free press, I stated nothing, I only quoted them.

  17. Craig Knauss

    Doc,
    Are you sure “Climate change will proceed as it always has…”? I’m assuming you’ve seen the NASA pictures of the dramatically reduced polar ice caps? And I’m assuming you knew the Russian icebreaker fleet didn’t have to break ice along the Russian (Arctic Ocean) coast for the last couple years (first time in recorded history)? And I assume you know that there are now 7 billion people in the world and a whole lot of them are burning CO2 producing fuels? I used to be skeptical, as well, but the signs are becoming painfully obvious that something is happening at a disturbingly rapid rate. Nature doesn’t change that quickly all by itself, barring an asteroid strike – at which point this will all be moot.

  18. I am not denying what is happening, but I don’t think we can turn back the modernization of the third world. We would be better off spending our resources on dealing with the change rather than thinking we can stop it.

  19. I did some returning to nature in celebration of earth day. Recycle. Put my crankcase oil back into the earth.

  20. Brian Opsahl

    Every little bit adds up in a hurry. Breathing Orange air like they do in China is
    un-acceptable. We have to change,it is critical to our own survival. If that dosen’t open your eyes nothing will…!!

  21. OK Brian, I agree with you about the Chinese.

    Now. You get them to stop.

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