But I still believe in happy endings
While flipping through the day's news from several sources, a common theme resonated with me; the majority of instances of death and destruction are manufactured by us humans. There is no mysterious evil spirit lurking over the earth waving a crooked finger to command wildfires, hunger, dangerous drug use, or violence. We can look into one billboard-sized mirror and see the origins of most of life’s ills. And here’s the pun…it’s not new news that humans, not magic, are the lead source of misery and destruction. Some of our brethren seem to be on a mission to destroy the environment, other people, and themselves in the process.
Pick a category, any category, and whittle the event down to how it began. You’ll find us.
The National Park Service and other wildfire watchers say that 85 to 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans. Human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, equipment use, and malfunctions, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. Fires need three things: heat, fuel, and oxygen. So, unless Mother Nature lights up a cig or a joint every now and then, human hands are manipulating two out of the three. Heat can be provided by open flames, static electricity, electric heaters, or cigarettes. Fuel in California comes from the dry climate and dry vegetation. Oxygen. High winds fan flames and spread embers.
Back in the day, Smoky the Bear public service announcements used the tagline, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Not everyone listened.
Not all of us are in a position to cast the first stone on drug use, but there is a line between recreation and looking for the most dangerous, exotic chemical experience you can find. Fentanyl is taking a side seat to tranq. Tranq is an animal tranquilizer which when mixed with Fentanyl can turn you into a zombie; frozen limbs and frozen brain.
The street names for tranq are the zombie drug, tranq dope, sleep cut, and Philly dope. The proper name is Xylazine, a non-opioid sedative that was used to tranquilize horses. It is not approved for humans, however; since 2019, its human use has increased.
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Forget war as a sign of the end of the world, war has always been with us. We talk about peace as if it’s an option. I tried to find out whether there have ever been days on the planet without war or any level of fighting. The answer is no. There are conflicts somewhere, at some time, by some warring people always. The logical question is why?
Psychologist Steven D. Taylor believes a major motivation of warfare is “the desire of one group of human beings—usually governments, but often the general population of a country, tribe or ethnic group—to increase their power and wealth. The group tries to do this by conquering and subjugating other groups, and by seizing their territory and resources.”
If it’s not that, religion and religious beliefs provide fighting words. The motivation is the same---subjugating others---but with this type of battle, participants have convinced themselves that the end justifies the means because they are fighting for a moral cause.
Climate Change: For Us by Us
Our pollution comes back on us like a big karmic slap in the face. The United Nations organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published a Synthesis Report in March 2023. It concluded that human activities, through greenhouse gas emissions, have without a doubt caused global warming. The main drivers of the emissions are energy use, land use, and the consumption and production of goods.
Human activity plays a large role on the air we breathe. Scientists say that CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in Earth's atmosphere have increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) to 414 ppm in the past 150 years. That means for every one million air molecules you breathe in; one would be CO2 thanks to our interpretation of progress.
World hunger. There’s no Shortage of Food Only Access to It
Look it up and you’ll see poverty and a ton of other mouthy explanations about poverty. Even internet searches tend to populate information that only touches the obvious surface of poverty but not the systemic conditions that sustain it.
Interconnected issues of poverty, inequity, conflict, climate change, gender discrimination, and weak government and health systems all play a role in keeping nutritious food out of reach for millions of families around the world.
Like a bull trying to sip tea with the good dishes, the alleged most intelligent mammal on earth is frightfully unaware of the consequences of its brilliance. Or worse still, acutely aware and could not give a shit. We can build great things that emit toxins. We have redefined food as chemical compositions. All these creations make us sick, really sick...so we take more chemicals to feel better. And then we don’t.
Millions go hungry, genocide reaches epic proportions, ethnic strife and prejudice are omnipresent, there are mass killings in the name of religion, and warfare remains a widely accepted solution to humankind's differences. With better, more efficient weapons and less reason, technology is outrunning rationality and there can only be dire consequences.
But you tell me\
Over and over and over again, my friend
How you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction
-Bob Dylan, Eve of Destruction
While some of us are a disappointment to whatever system or Supreme Being created the human, not all of us are f**k ups. Humans are capable of great good. We have created reforestation and clean energy systems. We feed those who are hungry. And fight tirelessly for justice. We even fight off-the-rails religious zealots with laws.
Fortunately, the tendency toward self-destruction continues to be kept at bay by the loud, persistent souls who fight, shout, and die for the greater good for all of us.