Will We Be Ready?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin
The scourge of COVID-19 is a tragic consequence of our reluctance and/or disinterest to take the necessary steps to prepare for battle with the microscopic enemy that has permeated most of the nooks and crannies of our planet. But its harmful effects will eventually subside—all virus invasions eventually do.
However, if history teaches us anything, we absolutely know there will be other viral and bacterial assaults on our ways of life. One reason is that these little monsters were the first species to occupy our planet. There are undisputable data that show life began at least 3.5 billion years ago and good evidence that it may have begun as early as 4.5 billion years ago. For the first few billion years, bacteria, viruses, and fungi were principle tenants of our planet. The first modern humans appeared only about 200,000 years ago. That means that microscopic species like bacteria and viruses have been around more than 20,000 times longer than humans. They have had plenty of time to learn the evolutionary genetic rules and means to survive and proper—even at our expense.
We have to hope—No! I would say, demand, with our vote—that political leaders across the globe learn from our current pandemic that it is critical to the wellbeing of all global citizens to intimately cooperate with other nations in our battle with COVID-19 and all future viral or bacterial threats, some of which may be orders of magnitude more lethal than the current virus. This cooperation is mandatory and crucial for our survival and transcends political, cultural, social, and economic differences.
Such cooperation has even broader importance beyond dealing with global pandemics. Regardless of the horrific damage they do, pandemics eventually come to an end. However, there is a much greater challenge creeping up on us at increasing speed, and we may be so numb from dealing with COVID-19 and other global challenges that perhaps, we disregard or disbelieve it, or maybe we subconsciously think, “Let future generations deal with it—Sorry, but that’s your children, grandchildren and their progeny.” And that challenge is climate change. Unlike pandemics, it will not go away.
Science has shown us that there have been five mass extinctions of nearly all living species on the planet [New Scientist, May 30, 2020, p. 25]. All five occurred hundreds of millions of years ago as the Earth’s tectonic plates moved to more stable positions. All of these extinctions were caused by global warming due to immense volcanic activity throwing off large volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, we are on track for the sixth mass extinction, this time predominantly caused by human activity contributing immense volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere. It’s known as the Anthropogenic Extinction Event, meaning it is being caused predominantly by humans.
At this point there is little we can do to stop this change, but there is much we can do to minimize its impact and most important—a lot we can do to prepare to adapt to the massive changes that will occur faster than we might imagine. In a previous post we talked about the proverbial frog who smiles as he comfortably bathes in a large pot of warm water. Unfortunately, a flame heats the pot and the temperature of the water rises slowly. In the comfort of this warmth, the frog falls asleep as the temperature continues to rise, never again to open his eyes.
We have tremendous science and technical knowhow to help minimize our global warming footprint. We can curtail as quickly as reasonably possible, the use of fossil fuels and support the use of alternate, non-invasive energy sources. Of course, this comes at a cost and therefore, we must support forward-looking political leaders and be committed to simplifying our lives and reducing the out-of-control intensity of our consumer culture. This might actually give us more time to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life.
In other words there should be economic incentives for increasing our quality of life—GQP, Gross Quality Product—rather than just our wealth and power—GDP, Gross Domestic Product. This happens quite naturally when we find and follow our true Life Purpose—discovering those innate skills we do best and love to do, and using them to make this a better world, even a little bit.
The water is getting increasingly warmer—don’t close your eyes—jump out of the pot and turn down the heat!