Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who Stops Us?

British Columbia's mountain pine beetle infestation has destroyed a mind boggling 300 million cubic meters of timber with no end in sight. These beetles have an insatiable appetite, unchecked growing capacity and few natural enemies. When we witness the destruction, it is with a uniform voice that we try to find ways to stop this scourge. One hundred million has already been allocated to blunt this "disease", with more resources to come. All levels of government recognize the threat and stand united if an effort to stop this beetle before its too late.

My question, who is there to stop another, more pervasive threat that dwarfs the damage done by the mountain pine beetle. The similarities are striking, yet human activity provides a different challenge because it may be asking too much to stop ourselves. How can human beings be expected to act in a way that is detached from its own immediate self interest? When it is just a beetle, the path is clear. When we are the parasite ourselves, it is clear that a "third party", detached from the human condition, is required to counter our activities.

There is a rational, empirical solution, but it is beyond an impossible alternative for anyone who possesses compassion or love. You could argue, that if you view the earth as patient, the remedy is human extinction or at the very least a massive population check. This unfathomable reality requires unimaginable suffering that is impossible to endorse. Yet, as we continue the unrelenting destruction of the earth as necessity for our survival, it becomes clear that we can't stop ourselves. Despite our idealism, it is plainly counter intuitive to expect an entity to not act in its own self interest. Again, if the earth is patient, something resembling a massive pandemic may be the remedy. Gaia's revenge, may be the only way to check a parasite without boundaries.

The conundrum clearly rests with your own inability to support such cold logic. I can't endorse a scenario that inflicts such suffering. I am selfish, I am compassionate, we are doomed :)

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