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On Extinction

Posted on:August 15, 2022 at 08:00 PM

We live by the grace of those who came before us, and those who come before us. More of us exist now than ever before. Yet our world is faltering. Old wisdom of seasons no longer holds, and misguided, distracted, and lethargic, the New feels the pressure growing, the temperature rising, the water evaporating.

We have faced enemies before. Individuals and clans and tribes have fought for resources, for power, won and lost. Entire villages and cities and kingdoms have been conquered. We the people are those who lost, and we are also the people that won. We built monuments and marvels and machines and missiles, buildings and bridges and railroads and dams. We moved mountains and reversed rivers. We reshaped this world in our image.

Now we are a civilization that spans the planet. Not peacefully, not uniformly, not completely, not yet, but a human being has set foot on every continent, swam in every ocean, foraged in every forest, and died in every desert. And a planetary civilization faces planetary threats.

Have we faced planetary threats before? Perhaps not. Have we faced dangers that threaten our entire civilization? Yes. Every plague, every earthquake, every forest fire, every mass flood, ever invading army, every drought has threatened the way of life of an entire people. And in almost every case, the way of life doesn’t survive. Culture is tied to geography, to language, to societal standards, to climate. Take it out, and it becomes an echo, an imprint, a fossil: useful fuel to form new culture at most, or an anachronism at least.

But people survive. Not all of them. Maybe even not most of them. Maybe just a precious few of them. But they do. And when the dust settles, they build again. What they build may never achieve the glory of the past, but they try their best not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Is there a chance to meet our planetary threats, and overcome them? Perhaps, but only if we act as a planetary civilization. Mired in our petty squabbles and vain indulgences, we not only fail everyone who came before, but everyone who come after.