Are we advancing beyond our well-being?
This existential pondering was instigated by an interesting book I read about humans who altered the genetic code to eradicate cancer, but in the process accidentally shortened the average life span to twenty years old.
You never know anything until you’re at least thirty, right?
So humankind was doomed. Hence the awesome fictional plot.
But it got gregorific thinking. With all the advances in modern science, who is the moral conscience governing our exploration? No one really. I mean we have the EPA and the FDA and the Department of This and That. But we do not share an overarching morality as a species. So, there is a fair amount of wiggle room.
Enough to decimate our way of life as we know it?
Last week, I heard a broadcast about the contamination of local rainwater. The news reassured listeners that it was a short-term problem of radioactive isotopes which had spread throughout the atmosphere from Japan. The EPA confirmed that the elevated levels of isotopes in my very own state’s rainwater were caused by nuclear fission. Seemingly, the quantity and quality of the contamination was not panic-worthy-bad-for-your-health. But still. None of it was good for you.
I was appalled.
I am appalled.
Ripples, systems, concentric circles, the spiral, DaVinci…
This is the same conceptual roadblock I hit when advocating for conservation of my local vernal pools. People are like, why bother? What’s it got to do with me? They worry about getting involved.
It’s got to do with each and every one of us. Why do we not know that? Where did elementary, high, college, and PhD programs go wrong? I don't live in Japan. I don't live in a vernal pool. Yet, I do. Ripples, people.
It’s not just a small seasonal pool at risk of being destroyed permanently. It’s not just the vulnerable salamanders and miniscule fairy shrimp whose habitat is being infringed upon and poisoned.
I am the salamander. We all are. We love Dr. Seuss, but why don’t we believe him?
It’s not Earth Day anymore. But still. The book I read portrayed how advancement can bring decline. This is what we are experiencing as we rave about modern technology and scientific breakthroughs and fret about pollution, our ozone, and acid rain.
We are capable of curing the Earth from the cancer we have infected it with. We reach for faster and farther. But let's stop. And take better aim. And pick up the mess we’re making. Otherwise our own story will ripple into the SciFi horror genre.