I can't help thinking that many people pay little attention - or at most lip-service, to the problem of Global Warming. It is so easy to think that as individuals we can do little to counteract it and that while the big industrial nations continue to fill the air with pollution we might as well forget it and say "fiddle" as Nero did when Rome burned.
Many years ago - around 1984 I think - I had reason to go to Chengde in the very North of China. Stepping off the train we were immediately unable to breathe properly because of the heavy pollution. Factory chimneys all around the town were puthering out dark yellow smoke and all the inhabitants were wearing masks. It was a misty, frosty day and all that pollution was at ground level.
China, and many other nations, have made progress since then. Today in "Eureka" magazine there is an interesting article by Ben Miller talking about the Gaia hypothesis (James Lovelock) and I must say that I do agree with a lot of what he says. Gaia is a holistic theory about the ecology of our planet. I shall be interested to hear what you think about the following.
What Miller has to say is that the planet is not in any danger at all from Global Warming. At
6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes our planet has experienced being frozen and being so hot that crocodiles swam at the North Pole. Indeed, it is not the planet that we are concerned about - it is our survival as a species.
He argues that yes, we have managed to get to the top of the food chain. How have we learned to do that? By ganging up on possible rival species both "human" and animal. But what is so special about us he asks. We seem to see ourselves as the supreme beings on Earth and to feel that the whole natural world revolves around us, whereas Gaia argues that we are just one component is a self-sustaining system.
Now, in order to survive as a species, it seems we have to learn to all work together in our common interest. Can you see that ever happening?
And if it doesn't then, as Miller says, eventually we will have what he calls "catastrophe die-off!"
Maybe it would be for the best, he says. Maybe we have gone as far as we can and it is time to hand over to a more intelligent, more highly-developed species who will respect the planet.
We, in planetary terms, are of little importance. Evolution, he says, doesn't care. The planet will survive and we will all become fossil fuel for the next lot of inhabitants to burn.
What do you think to that for an hypothesis?