Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Global Recovery

Time machines, now those would have a huge market. Imagine if there were two models running simultaneously. Imagine how hard it would be to plan anything.
Buddy, I need a designated driver.
There have been many turning points in collective history where a minor deviation in a course of events would have resulted in a drastically different future. If only the Donner Party had not taken Hastings Cutoff. If only Archduke Ferdinand's driver had heard about the changed motorcade route. If Emperor Atahualpa and his soldiers had not been unarmed when they met Pizarro in Cajamarca. This is true on a personal scale as well. If only we hadn't joined the circus, married that securities broker, eaten that food from the street vendor. Things would have been different. 
Unfortunately, avoiding Hastings Cutoff would have sparked a chain of events that would culminate in a two-dimensional earth dominated by cartoon characters. Humans would serve as entertainment at theaters, but during intervening hours would be housed in three-dimensional film canisters. 
This prediction comes to us courtesy of the thing called the Multiverse, popular in some corners of physics and science fiction. Multiverse, as in multiple universes. The theory proposes that infinite, bubble, mathematical, and daughter multiverses exist. The theory is that, in a variety of respects, an infinite number of universes are possible. For one, it is said that an infinite range of possible effects of a single decision exists, each existing in one of an infinite number of universes. Currently, we are looking for the universe where none of that is true and nobody believes it.
The problem is, these days, science fiction and science are often confused. It is easy for some to confuse theory with evidence. A strong theory may be cited as evidence for the existence of the particulars of the theory. For example, someone may say, "There is strong evidence of a multiverse", in view of the persuasive argument, logic, and math describing the theory. But that isn't evidence. Evidence would be an observation, an object, a mark from that universe. It is understandable how people could be confused. Today, many will quickly jump from possibility to belief because of the weight assigned by disinformation salesmen and their clientele to insubstantial and improbable claims. It is becoming normal for many to believe in that which is unbelievable. 
Well, it is said that nature does not like a vacuum. This may explain why, when the compulsion to misbehave is greater than the will to change, rationalizations quickly fill the void. Several types are commonly found in the void: Deny the misbehavior occurred, shift the blame for the misbehavior, and minimize the gravity of the misbehavior. Who me? You made me do it. Well, everybody else does it.
So here is the moral inventory: In our relationship with the natural environment, we act too quickly to extract too much natural resource to build things too big and too complex, doing so with limited knowledge and cognition amidst increasing disinformation, suppressing and replacing native ecosystems, which increases failure points, pushes species below minimum population thresholds, distributes alien invasive species, increases atmospheric carbon, alters stream ecology, resulting in the loss of species and habitats, herds, flocks, schools, and we don't have the time for another doggone list. 
As we are confronted with the evidence of our incapacitated escapades from the centuries before, the environmental misdeeds, the temptation is to deny the facts and the need to change our behavior and thought. That sound of rushing air is the sound of a rationalization filling the void. We didn't do it; extinction is part of nature. We were just following orders; industry and government told us to do it. Well, at least we didn't kill all the bison. Lately, it has been, Don't worry, science will find a way to clean up our mess. 
Keep tossing the plastic bottles out the window, someone is out there picking them up. And there are multiple universes out there, spinning like a million samaras falling from a maple tree, where the all the right decisions were made. And in the future, science will make a time machine where we can go back and make amends with history, to turn the Donner Party to the north on the California Trail, inform Ferdinand's driver to continue driving along Appel Quay, and get Atahualpa to skip the meeting in Cajamarca and go rally his troops, to make sure plastic was contained in the laboratory, the mixed-grass prairie was never plowed, the diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya that feed the Aral Sea was never conceived, the Saint Lawrence Seaway was scrapped, the Oglalla aquifer was conserved, and Oppenheimer was a simple shoe salesman, all of which would, of course, create more multiverses that don't exist. And besides, they say, the natural outcome of evolution is self-extermination. As one sinks deeper into maladjustment, the rationalizations become more delusional, beliefs become more magical. There is a bottom to this, somewhere, it just depends if one falls long and far enough to feel it.
Sobering up. 
By now, the ground should be getting awfully close. This is about the time that our life should flash before our eyes, Ah, so many regrets. It's painful to think about - but that's nothing like the pain that awaits a hundred feet below. The biggest regret may that we lost our understanding that just because something could exist does not mean it does exist. It is entertaining to fantasize about time travel, going back and forth in history altering the calamitous decisions, as is done on a regular basis in the film studios in Hollywood by ageless actors and actresses who obviously are benefitting from the time-slowing effects of traveling at the speed of light, but the common citizen does not have the luxury of committing a consequential series of decisions spanning centuries that result in environmental catastrophes and walking off the set to the comfort of climate control and filtered water. It would be better to let the fantasies dwell in the secure confines of the film studio, behind high walls, limited access gates guarded by armed security personnel, and boom barriers. Don't let them out.
Well, it's about time for our friends to intervene. The rationalizations don't work anymore. There is no time machine to go back and do it all over. No alternative universe where we made the right decisions. Ah, if we could do it over again, things would have been different. No, better yet, do us all over again. 
That's more like it. Next time we get a planet, let's do it right.

No comments: