Indi half-dog-half-kangaroo (either half-kangaroo or half-jumping bean. I think the former isn’t as big a genetic leap as the latter) took me out for a stroll Sunday evening. It was cloudy and chilly. Probably in the mid 60’s Fahrenheit (yes, that is “chilly” by a spoiled Southern Californian standard. If it ever gets cold enough for the car doors to freeze shut here, most of us would be unconscious and couldn’t careless about using normal people’s adjective in describing coldness).
I was bundled up in 3 layers and dreaming of steaming mugs of hot cocoa while furry Indi just went about her business with total indifference to the dropping temperature… Which, naturally, made me ponder about the ‘common wisdom’ that man is the most evolved species on the planet.
But, of course, man is not ‘the most’ evolved species on the planet. All the other species (hyperactive furry canines included) are just as evolved as we are! We just evolved differently to cope with our natural niches. And that’s the same thing all the other living species do!
Drop an unarmed man into the middle of the wilderness anywhere with no tool whatsoever (knife and flint included), and most likely he won’t survive anywhere nearly as well as all the other untooled local species can and do. Indi the kangadog, for one, is so well insulated by her fur that she’ll be able to survive winter nights out without suffering hypothermia. Without my clothes, I probably won’t be able to do that. And if the cold doesn’t do me in, I’d probably starve because I’m not fast enough nor can I see well enough without my glasses to catch a rabbit or a panicky squirrel for dinner.
Physically Indi the dog and Spooky the squirrel are much better adapted to the Southern Californian land environment than I am (and I can’t live in water the way the sea bass and other fish can either). The one luck I and my fellow humans have, however, is that many many moons ago our human ancestor hit the genetic jackpot with brain development. Intelligence. It doesn’t give us any physical advantage to other less intelligent species, but it along with the physical convenience of the opposable thumb allow us to improvise like no other earthlings could. We can’t run as fast as the cheetahs can, but we thought up and built not only speedy cars but even rockets that can travel beyond our solar system. We can’t see as well as the eagles do, but we thought up and created binoculars and even telescopes that can see galaxies forming so far away that it takes light 14 billion years to deliver their sight to us.
Having said that, having intelligence and using it are two different things. Why do I keep hearing people dissing the effort to reduce CO2 gas in the atmosphere and (hopefully) reversing the current global warming trend as if the natural- or unnatural- ness of its cause should make us behave differently? If you know that a moon-size meteor is taking a dead aim at planet Earth, would you not want the scientists to do everything possible to try to prevent the collision – regardless of how natural the event is? Why should inaction be excused if man isn’t the main cause of the current speedy warming trend (though the scientific consensus is that it is)? The planet will survive the next ice ages as well as boiled ages. What sensible people are trying to do is to do what is humanly possible to preserve the current earthly condition that supports our species’ survival… regardless of whether its cause is more natural or man-made.
The earth is going to be here whether Southern California turns into the bottom of a hot ocean or a frigid mile-thick glacier… You can either do what you can to prevent so drastic a climate change that will make it hard for your offspring to live or you can just sit on your hands while condemning others for causing you energy-inconveniences in their attempt to pass along a humanly viable earth to future generations. There is no escaping doom in the latter, whereas the former retains a possibility of survival. If only all choices in life can be as clear cut!!!
PS: If you click on the link at ‘climate change’ to see the EPA’s page on the phenomenon, be sure to read the footnote at the bottom of the page. It always bugs me how lay naysayers like to dismiss scientific views for the use of ‘passive voice’. In the scientific world ‘uncertainties’ are measured on a very different scale than they are in lay conversations.