The trees did it first.
They polluted the air with toxic gas, devoured simple minerals and bound them up in complicated molecules that, after eons, rotted into vile tar and oil.
Oxygen, petroleum, waste from them permanently changed our planet.
It used to be such a beautiful place. Hot—not quite enough to boil water, but close—covered with oceans, blanketed in a warming shroud of carbon dioxide, with a few volcanoes fuming up through the water. It was Heaven-on-Earth for the billions, trillions, quadrillions of generations of bacteria that flourished, fissioned, and spread through the waters.
Then came sexual reproduction. Nobody knows who started it but the algae—disgusting little fornicators—set the pattern. Fuck this, fuck that, fuck everything is sight. Spew your DNA, churn and stir with every neighbor. Oh sure, most of it won’t survive a single mitosis, but those that do… My God, the aberrations, the freaks, the poor cripples it spawned.
What a horror that started!
With the coming of plants and trees, the Earth was transformed from a steamy hot-pot into an oxygen-polluted wasteland. Uncountable species that’d lasted millennia spread across the rising land that fractured, drifted across the planet, disappeared, reemerged, and repeated the pattern, the evolution, uncountable times over.
Ghastly creatures appeared in the waters, and like gasoline to fire, they devoured the chemically-volatile oxygen and produced even more complex cellular structures. Flagella, function-specific cells, organs, tentacles, mouths, eyes…
I suppose one of them poked some erect appendage up into the air and felt the titillating caress of oxygen.
“Hey, Mike,” some jelly-filled, skin-bag probably blubbered to its neighbor, “stick your flagellum up here, out of the water, and whip it around some. Makes you want to spew, doesn’t it?”
And so the evolution continued. The Earth changed the life, and the life changed the Earth. It’s simbiosis on a global scale. Earth, life, ever changing, ever adapting.
I suppose I’m a lot like Professior Falken in the movie War Games.
“Now, children, come on over here. I’m going to tell you a bedtime story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent race of animals that dominated the world through age after age. They ran, they swam, and they fought and they flew, until suddenly, quite recently, they disappeared. Nature just gave up and started again. We weren’t even apes then. We were just these smart little rodents hiding in the rocks. And when we go, nature will start again. With the bees, probably.”
We were made by the Earth, for the environment as it existed at that point.
I’m a “guided creationist” if you must know. I see God’s hand in the evolution of life, in its incredible diversity and sophistication. But I’m not so naive as to believe we are “God’s image.” There’ve been too many Hitlers, too many madmen. We’re just the next step, maybe the next mis-step.
Evolution—Nature as Professor Falken called it, or God as others might—isn’t done.
The Earth is still changing, and will continue to do so. If we measure the planet’s lifetime, scientists say the Earth as a life-sustaining platform has another seven billion years to go.
Of course, we’ll be long gone by then.
“Moved on to greener pastures,” a former neighbor might say. “Alpha Centauri, someone said. After that, who knows?”
Does global warming concern me?
Yes, of course. I pay the electric bill, I run the air conditioner in the car, and I sweat gallons when mowing the lawn early Thursday morning in the summer so the cuttings can be carted away in Friday’s early trash pick-up.
I suppose I could help more: use an electric mower instead of gas at the expense of some uranium atoms out at the Palo Verde nuclear plant instead of burning those ancient, dead trees pumped up from beneath Saudi Arabia, or Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, or that stinky little corner of Los Angeles.
Eventually, I’ll stop exhaling that awful carbon dioxide, too. I’m sure the upper atmosphere will sigh in relief at my demise.
There’s a forest near Flagstaff where you can have your ashes spread amongst the trees, literally returning to the roots. I like that idea.
But until then, I’m a messy, squirmy, leaky creature. I suck up nutrients and squirt out what my body doesn’t want.
Chocolate in, poop out, flip the handle and away it goes.
“Here you go, little fishies, plants, and bacteria. See what you can make of this.”
Nature will come up with something. Always has.