Shock & Awe

Posted March 15th, 2011 in Blog, Featured 3 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

I try to imagine what this would be like, your land shaken by one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded, followed in half an hour by a 30 foot wall of water that first tore up everything you loved, everything that was your life, ripped it all right off its foundations, and then, when it receded, took it all away, washed it out to sea, including thousands of your loved ones and neighbors.

Then, in a state of utter incomprehension, dealing with a state of shock that brings you to your knees, you now live under threat of the air, hot air, hot air that could sicken you, attack your organs, change your cell structure, maybe kill you.  It is a silent, unseen threat. And you don’t know if you are being told the truth about it.

And you are hungry and thirsty and sleeping in the cold because there is no heat, no electricity, no way to find out what happened to your missing loved ones.

Our sisters and brothers in Japan.

Right now, 50 workers remain in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where 3 active reactors and three spent fuel rod pools are breaking down. Assuming that they are willing volunteers out of 800 who were working there, the rest being evacuated, those workers are offering up their lives to try to keep the worst from happening.

Fukushima Daiichi before the disaster - Wikipedia

This is, my friends, such a nightmare, so incomprehensible to me, that I find myself sitting in my quiet moments in a state of near-paralyzing awe – sheer, raw, overwhelming, dark, shattering, awe.

We are in the face of something beyond rational thought or reason – and this seems horribly fitting because it seems in sync with how this human species has lived on this planet – without rational thought or reason – no, that’s wrong – actually we have lived with such rational thought, such faith in the human mind, in our own brilliance and mastery over the forces of nature, such confidence in our amazing engineering and technological prowess, that we are making breathtaking disaster and catastrophe a certain element of our present and our future.

Good job, humans!!

It ought to be enough that the Earth humbles us at times with its awesome dynamic forces – earthquakes and volcanoes, tornadoes and hurricanes, floods and drought – but then we decide to mess with its most elemental dynamisms, splitting atoms and thinking we can keep the reaction under control forever, creating chemical and biological weapons, creating new synthetic chemicals never before seen in nature now in our soil, food, water, and our own bodies – and everything will be okay, that the species that is so smart it can make all these things will always be able to keep them under control.

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds, said J. Robert Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad Gita, after the first successful test of an atomic explosion in New Mexico in 1945. And to this day, we remain the only nation that ever dropped nuclear bombs on anyone  –

– on Japan, on civilian populations in Japan.

Surely this is one of the darkest ironies of our age.

So this is my meditation tonight. I have nothing else to say about it – except to ponder it, to take it in, to let it be my teacher, to listen to what this is saying to us, to our species, in this time of mounting crisis.

I sit in its presence. I sit in awe.


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3 Responses

  1. D.Bheemeswar

    This is very tragic situation, we are all aware that Japanese are living on the earth quake pron area and also volcanoes near by. we all thought that they have devised better techniques for countering this type earth quakes and also tsunamis. We have yet to learn a lot from nature that’s what i feel now. That too it is double along with nuclear energy related radiations. Of course in the second world war they faced much worst things due to some maniacs trying to test those arsenals. It shows that Japan has some curse over them, that too at this time economic recession.

    I am not sure about the third world countries what shall be their plight, those who are already deprived from so many things, especially south African countries and others.
    If the same thing happens in North America it may be devastating than this, which is already facing over utilization of agricultural lands and deforestation etc added to this pollution levels going up day by day, without any check.

  2. Steven Earl Salmony

    No shock and awe, only science….

    For the sake of Wisconsinites and human beings with feet of clay everywhere, please examine the following presentation.

    Perhaps the most revealing “leading indicator” to watch is the increasing growth of absolute global human population numbers.

    The science of human population dynamics and the tragically misleading flaws bound up in the Classical Demographic Transition Model.

    We are routinely presented with plenty of factoids, figures and statistics as well as a misleading and tragically flawed Classical Demographic Transition Model. Where is the scientifically-driven evidence regarding the population dynamics and unbridled, skyrocketing growth of the human species on Earth?

    As humanity’s most luminous beacon of truth, science provides us with a last best hope for the survival of life as we know it on Earth. We must make certain that scientific evidence is never downplayed, distorted and denied by religious dogma, politics or ideological idiocy.

    Let us not fail for another year to acknowledge extant research of human population dynamics. The willful refusal of many too many experts to assume their responsibilities to science and perform their duties to humanity could be one of the most colossal mistakes in human history. Such woefully inadequate behavior, as is evident in an incredible conspiracy of silence among experts, will soon enough be replaced with truthful expressions by those in possession of clear vision, adequate foresight, intellectual honesty and moral courage.

    Hopefully leading thinkers and researchers will not continue suppressing scientific evidence of human population dynamics and instead heed the words of Nobel Laureate Sir John Sulston regarding the emerging and converging, human-driven global challenges that loom ominously before humankind in our time, “we’ve got to make sure that population is recognized…. as a multiplier of many others. We’ve got to make sure that population really does peak out when we hope it will.”

    Sir John goes on, “what we want to do is to see the issue of population in the open, dispassionately discussed…. and then we’ll see where it goes.”

    In what is admittedly a feeble effort to help John Sulston fulfill his charge to examine all available scientific evidence regarding human population dynamics, please give careful consideration to the following presentation and then take time to rigorously scrutinize the not yet overthrown science from Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation.

    Please accept this invitation to discern the best available science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation; discover the facts; deliberate; draw logical conclusions; and disseminate the knowledge widely.

    Thank you.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001
    Chapel Hill, NC

  3. Dr. Sanford Aranoff

    My friend in graduate school had a father that died crossing the street. Sad, but this does not mean we must forgo rationality. We both got our Ph.D.’s in physics. See the new book, “Rational Thinking, Government Policies, Science, and Living”. Rational thinking starts with clearly stated principles, continues with logical deductions, and then examines empirical evidence to possibly modify the principles. We need rational thinking to survive, and must fight the opposition.