Thursday, October 12, 2006

My 50th post. And I'm bringing Hell with me

OK so I'm back, I had originally intended to take a few days off in order to take care of some other things in my life, but I received an anonymous comment last night that kept me awake. Literally at like 2 in the morning, I got an update (blogger sends a message to my blackberry every time someone comments on my blog) and I couldn't get back to sleep. So in my half asleep daze I was tormented by images of destruction of proud civilizations and the pure folly and egotistical thought process that resulted in such decimation.

"Speaking of intergalactic objects, I have always thought that we should put our garbage in outer space. That would clean the Earth. The space shuttle should transport our human garbage into outer space. Please advise on the viability of this exercise."

So I've heard this a few times now and it disturbs me. The fact that the entire culmination of human experience allows for thoughts like this to persist bewilders me. It reminds me of what Cortez and Diaz first remarked when they finally scaled the slopes of Popcatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl and saw the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochititlan. They and their band of about 400 conquistadors were astonished by the brilliant and vibrant city that welcomed them.

A letter from Cortez address to King Charles of Spain reported the discovery of November 1519 which stated,

"When we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and other great towns on dry land and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico, we were astonished. These great towns and pyramids and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seem like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream. The towers rose higher than the cathedral at Seville. Moctezuma himself lived in a palace so marvellous that it seem to me impossible to describe its excellence and grandeur Spain their is nothing to compare to it. It is twice the size of Seville, much larger than Naples or Constaninople."

Bernal Diaz later recounted that "I stood looking at it and thought no land like it would ever be discovered in the whole world..."

So here we have a pristine civilization, a testament to human ingenuity so amazing that seasoned explorers from imperial Europe were in absolute wonder of its splendour. Yet within a few short years, the two men who were initially in awe of this culture, had destroyed it. The Europeans had clogged the canals with human waste, garbage and the corpses or 100,000 Aztecs. Disease ran rampant through the city because the decaying flesh turned the water poisonous. The crops on the mainland withered and died, the ground loosing all fertility due to the toxins in the water, and soon starvation ensued. It was the European arrogance of not preserving the very thing that sustained the life of that culture. The city had thrived for 500 years, and it was systematically dismantled by the new comers. The water became such a problem that they eventually had the lake drained, but guess what? all those years of neglect turned the water into a sess pool, leaving the ground barren. Since nothing would grow, erosion became a severe hazard and noxious dust storms choked the inhabitant of the city.

Even today there are significant problems, because of the lack of fertility of the soil (and gigantic American corporate farms), many farmers are having difficulty eking out a living and had to abandon their farms and move in to what's now know as District Federale or Mexico City, putting further strain on a city that is vastly over populated.

So what's the point. Have we learned nothing from the mistakes of mans' abuse of nature. There are countless other examples, Easter Island where they cut down all the trees and resorted to cannibalism. Or Iceland where they cut down all the trees to build towns until nothing would grow because all the nutrients were leeched from the soil. It became so bad there was no trees left to cut down to build boats, so they were stranded on the island and the Vikings starved to death. Even today, look at Haiti, environmental abuse has left it as one of the most impoverished counties on the planet.

So would I condone sending garbage into outer space? No. Not only is the cost extremely exorbitant for the small amount of garbage that the cargo hold of a space shuttle could accommodate, but if we start to treat new frontiers in the same way that we treated old ones, I would start to question if a defining characteristic of being human is the ability to learn from past behaviour. Sadly there is no opt out clause. And if your argument is that space is infinite so what the hell does it matter? then you also believe in space's infinite possibilities. So it would be rude of you to litter in aliens' backyard. So I'd prefer that man rethink it's consumption patterns before we go all Cortez and Diaz on outer spaces' ass!


At 1:19 PM, Blogger Sj said...

beautiful El. Just a beaut. Take that Rogers Blackberry service!

At 7:29 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

I like it.


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