September 18th, 2010

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The Layman's Guide To Doom: Human Nature.



            






     The human being is a small, brief thing. It is true that, at least some of them, are able to have an inkling of the scope of the cosmos... More so than any other known creature. But most of the time, the typical person's consciousness is limited to a relatively tiny speck of time and space.

     As such, humans have difficulty comprehending things which are truly vast and slow, and often perceive them as infinite and permanent.

     By the time a human being has lived long enough to develop a meaningful sense of time, he's just about out of it.


Tick-tock... tick-tock...


     If something has been around longer than a couple of generations, people begin to believe that it's always been that way.

     This small-scale perspective on reality works fine for most animals. And it worked well for humans for most of their historical existence. When tribes were made up of dozens, maybe a couple hundred people, the global population was a few million, and Man had only stone tools and marginal mastery of fire, there was no need for concern about human impact on the environment or resources.

     But Man got bigger. Wood and peat gave way to coal and petroleum. Stone gave way to copper, then iron. A few million Naked Apes became hundreds of millions. Then billions. Man became able to level forests, flatten mountains, wipe out species...

     The problem is that Man's scale of perception didn't grow with that of his abilities. The oil reserves. The oceans. The sky. They're so vast, and they change so slowly that Man doesn't really see the effects of what he does... Until it's too late. Now he's hitting the limits of what he thought was infinite, and cannot wrap his mind around the concept.


Darned if I can see any buffalo from up here, Clem.
Where do you reckon' they've all got-off to?
















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