I believe in pessimism for the ultimate fate of mankind. In my early days a microbiology instructor opened a Petri disc to touch the center of the agar surface with a tiny probe to plant a few bacteria cells. In following days a slime-appearing surface grew toward the edges of the finite culture medium, the center deteriorated. Its population growth formed a bell curve. It grows and then declines as sustenance and space fails. Living in a closed environment impressed me with its limitations.
Years later I became aware of Malthus predicting earth’s population outgrowing its food. But no, scientists said that mankind’s superior intellect would overcome. Lo, it became so. Along with splendorous fertilizers and pesticides of “better living through chemistry” producing bountiful harvests came the unintended pollution of earth, water and air and its impact on the health of those enjoying these same harvests. Later the scientist served up “clean” nuclear energy but produced radioactive waste to plague our progeny for millennia. The good life afforded comforts and convenience through carbon based energy, which in addition to earth’s volcanoes outpourings, markedly increased carbon dioxide in the air to previously unheard of levels. Consequences are expected.
Finally scientists boosted us into space so we could gaze back at mother earth. What a gorgeous blue marble in space, the companion to the dead, uninhabitable other satellites of our sun. My epiphany of pessimism birthed. What a beautiful petri dish earth is, inoculated with organisms called mankind chewing away at the substrate of this closed system.
History shows that we humans are prone to mining- ripping from the earth- rather than husbandry- taking and giving back, failing to maintain a balance. Our myths and primitive beliefs to which many cling tell us to await an ephemeral after death time to attain that Eden, that Heaven, that Nirvana. Meanwhile we growl, fight and kill, like dogs after a single bone for land and power to gain ease in this our present world. Also our urges cause us to go forth and multiply. Poor Malthus perhaps wasn’t wrong but only off in his timing.
One antidote to my terminal pessimism is perhaps this; earth is not a closed system. We have the bounty of energy shed onto our sphere by our sun. The unfortunate bacteria had no added food supply. This could be our salvation if we find the courage to use it. Mother earth has tried to teach us that life is sustainable if we will live within a few of her simple rules. To this date we are failing. The earth is complicit with destruction of other species and will solve our dilemma in her own way if we don’t comply. But can we? Here lies my pessimism.
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