Biology - Other

Are Human Beings still Part of Nature

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"Are Human Beings still Part of Nature"
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Are human beings still a part of nature? The last time you were ill, your body answered that question for you. The inevitable chemical processes ran their course, and in a few days you were fine again: but while you were ill, your body was a chemical factory that did not work as it usually does. When you recovered, the chemical factory righted itself, and life went on.

This is quite difficult for the average person, traveling safely from home to work five days a week, to grasp. He or she goes farther in the course of a day than a great-grandparent trekked in a decade. Her or his life is made incredibly comfortable through means he or she rarely considers: running hot water which is safe to ingest, for instance, requires a complex infrastructure that both exploits and distances us from nature.

We attempt to live well out of the way of the forces of that nature - we hope. We have as little control over the weather or geologic forces as we do of our internal processes.

It often seems as if the extent of media coverage of disaster is not derived solely from the newsworthiness of the story. Our obsessive fascination seems to spring instead from a collective horror that nature still retains her power to kill us as, when, and in the numbers she pleases.

Flood, heat, cold, and fire are minor mankillers compared to the geological processes to which the planet on which we live is subject. Remote, peaceful tropical islands are not safe from powerful tsunamis on the day after Christmas. Entire mountains can and do blow up. Whole cities can slide into the chasms opened by an earthquake. And there is no guarantee that it will not happen to you or to me tomorrow.

If we postulate a lucky person, however, that person misses the worst of the plagues, survives the minor ones, evades tsumanis, eludes earthquakes, fire, flood, killer heat, killer cold, and the odd volcano. Still, that fortunate person is not immortal.

And so we return to the chemical processes, of which aging is the least stoppable. A multi-billion-dollar industry currently attempts to prevent its appearance, but cannot stop its ravages. We feverishly hope, and as feverishly fund, research to get ourselves out of this ultimate dilemma, but we will be unsuccessful for generations yet. And we may find that our self is a chemical process that cannot be extricated from its physical shell.

We humans are, and remain, part of nature.

More about this author: Lin Barrett

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