Friday, October 8, 2021

Real Places

Hiking the foothills of the Rocky Mountains I found my very being especially present in this amazing space. Below me lay a glacial lake glinting azure in the afternoon sun. Two amazing yet sadly dwindling glaciers melting in the Autumn of the Anthropocene Era stretch beside me. And in the distance snow-capped summits soar several thousand feet higher than me yet loom deceptively at eye level.

What also looms in the moment is the importance we give to the heres and theres of where we have been. Many times I have recounted with friends the countries, states and cities that we have visited, alongside storied memories. In fact, Idaho and Oregon remain in my unvisited state list and these two names beckon me to visit them, and yet they are just names of boundaried land. These expansive places were roamed upon by native peoples for millennia past and by native sentient creatures for eons well before a relatively ephemeral United States claimed and configured them into surveyed property entities. 

My point is that places like Idaho and Oregon (and Colorado), beautiful as the land within their drawn lines may be, are abstract concepts that sometimes align with mountain ridges, river centerlines and ocean edges. Might we forget for a moment that humans attempt to force ownership upon every square foot of the Earth? Might we envision the more interesting demarcations that Nature has drawn without any consultation of the local zoning departments?

Earth is the most obvious discreet place that transcends human labeling. Even though a handful of humans have escaped her gravity, the global environment is one planetary place all Earthlings call home.

Next, one might suggest Continents as definitive places here on Earth; however, they are but convenient manipulations of human perception. Better that we ascribe tectonic plates as the foremost geologic subdivisions. These sliding masses have discreet edges that diverge and converge, yet are locational entities that are ever more real than whimsical continents.  

Living spaces are another inherent, real location from the perspective of all Earthlings. Those places where conditions are right to support the various tapestries of life. These biomes are even more fluid than tectonic plates, shifting with the seasons and with sentient and instinctive territory movement. Human Earthlings wander with their chattel creatures anywhere they please, making us think twice about our evolutionary origins and the limits other Earthling species have in their long term survival.

Many other discreet, concrete places could be compiled. Elemental, matter phase, temperate, pressurized, photonic, radioactive, lunar influenced, seismic, et al. So many paradigms to overlook unless you are immersed in a particular scientific study or attentive to a momentary contemplation.  To be sure the variety of real places within Earth are indifferent to our human opinions. And yet the fact we can find those real places special, demonstrates our species is capable of recognizing beauty even when it doesn't rely on a connection to our self-perceived specialness--quite the ironic feeling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

On the Impact of Large Populations

When it comes down to it majorities do rule, often with little care for minorities. Except of course when powerful minorities dominate. One might be tempted to associate these principles within human communities alone where politics and tribalism have run rampant throughout human history. Alas, the numbers game reaches well beyond petty societal squabbles, international militancy, and all the human relationship modalities in between.

The fact that Hydrogen and Helium have remained the most abundant elements in the observable Universe for billions of years demonstrates how the population of inert matter domination affects things significantly. Thus we have stars, that in time create rarer elements and the possibilities for rarer molecules and eventually the rarest assemblies of life and organized information.

Here on Earth, the dominant population of homo sapiens has become so successful via natural selection intertwined with human sacredness that a steamroller effect has decimated the diversity around us. When one travels one sees the profligacy of humanity in all the infrastructure that has been built to support higher populations of humans at the expense of the populations of everything else.

Perhaps human populations are plateauing, and perhaps human culture is gradually recognizing the implicit sacredness of other species and of the natural places that are special even if not a single human benefits from them. Sadly, much of the damage is done and the heart of a thriving, populous humanity has many centuries of decimating momentum ahead. 

All the more reason as individuals to minimize our impact while harvesting the experience of a minimalist life. Which is to say a large population multiplied by less exploitive behaviors will reduce the harm somewhat. Consolation psychology is one refuge for minorities everywhere.

Still it is possible that minority influencers might corral the herd toward better choices, choices that can result in a healthier planet from all perspectives.