The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just let it happen, ok?

One of the benefits of having a blog is that you have a "canvas" on which to paint word-pictures of everything around you. One can make fun of people (individuals, ethnic groups, whole nations, etc), one can offer sage advice (with or without tongue in cheek), one can push pet projects or movements, or engage in just about any form of word art you might imagine. Me? I mainly just babble... sometimes coherently, mostly not.

While watching a Science Channel series called "When Earth Erupts", I began to muse about human beings and their raison d'ĂȘtre. I long ago came to the conclusion that we are simply a fairly successful parasitic species. Shocking, eh? That a cynic like me would look at the human race as parasitic?

Of course not. It is to be expected. I have a very low opinion of the human species. We are fascinating, though, because of our massive collective ego. We think the world exists pretty much just for us. Our religions reflect that and teach that.

Consider what a parasite is: "A parasite is an organism that lives on or inside another organism to the detriment of the host organism."

That's a micro-definition. In reality, a parasite must be outside the food chain, it should not have a natural species (as opposed to, say, domesticated species) dependent upon it, and it should cause harm to its host.

While there are species dependent on us, they would survive just fine if we ceased to exist tomorrow. Most are what we call domesticated animals, like cattle, non-feral dogs and cat, and so on. But there are others which we mostly call pests which have thrived in and around our civilizations. Rats come to mind immediately.

We don't generally look at ourselves as parasites, do we? We look at our cities, our structures, our roadways, our trains and planes, our technology, and we are in awe at how clever we are. Only the radical environmentalists would likely agree with me about us. But I differ from them in that I relish our parasitic nature.

You see, I believe nature is self-correcting. It probably goes back to a teacher explaining a theory that herds of wild horses will shrink and grow in accordance with abundance and ebbing of grazing resources. If the herd does not, or cannot, migrate (as when they are penned into a box canyon) when the food supply dips then the herd will shrink from attrition. The weaker members will die, the size of the herd will shrink, and the herd will survive.

We don't do that. Well, we used to... migrate, that is, when our food supply was no longer sufficient but we've run out of pristine arable land to migrate to. We are stuck in our "box canyon" called Earth. We do not yet have the technology to migrate to other planets. We might not have the time to develop that technology.

This is why I formed an hypothesis about pollution which says we need to stop trying to reduce it. (I don't worry about anthropogenic global climate change either.) You see, when we reduce pollution all we do is delay the inevitable. Let me offer an analogy:

The very first freeway in the country was the Pasadena Freeway in California, the urban legend is that it carried three times the traffic it was designed for within a month of its opening.

A similar thing happens with pollution. The less the pollution per person, the larger the population can be. So, we reduce smog from each car and that means we can put more cars on the road and still have a net reduction in smog. Eventually, however, we'll catch up. Eventually, the pollution level will be the same except it will now impact many more people.

There is something else I brought into the hypothesis. That is "build up." In earthquakes, the longer the interval between quakes, the stronger the eventual quake may be. Pressure builds and builds until it is released and the result is greater than if there had been several quakes occur in the timeline. I believe that model can be applied to pollution. The sooner an area becomes unlivable, the sooner the population will migrate elsewhere.

As I said, though, we no longer have the room to do that. What will happen is that we will learn to function in a less benign environment. Our population will eventually shrink and balance will be restored. We won't be wiped out, we are much too tenacious. And parasites are tough to eradicate. So we'll survive... in much smaller numbers and in a less benign environment. Our life spans will shorten and our infant mortality rate will increase. We will devolve, if you will.

Or maybe I have seen too many Mad Max movies.

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