Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Asperger's and Saving the Whale

What are the differences between Aspies and NT's? I think it may be one of being able to separate emotion from decision making. Let's try it with whales...

My emotions say these beautiful, ancient species who as deer or dog like creatures decided to take to the oceans to make a living, deserve our care and protection. That we may possibly be sharing the planet with another social, intelligent creature that we could have joined if the aquatic ape theory has anything going for it would seem to make it very important to preserve their habitat and numbers.

OK, that was the heart bit, now the logic.

As a species, our future is off planet. The way we operate is fill all available space or eat all the food until we start dying. Then we spread out to new habitats taking the brightest and most inquisitive genes with us leaving the old, stay at home genes in the old place.

So, we know the earth is going to be creaking at the seams soon, it's time to spread out. First in orbit, then the moon. Later, the solar system awaits and the nearest stars next. So that's the next couple of thousand years.

Eventually, the galaxy itself will be ours and Earth will, for peoples on the other side of the galaxy, sink into story, then myth, and eventually be forgotten. What of the whales then? Do we leave a caste of monk like people to tend them? Keep the earth as a garden? There's a problem if we do that.

We have finite resources on this planet, and we're going to need every last scrap if we are going to make the jump from our nursery to our home amongst the stars. This is like a caterpillar, munching on a stinging nettle, he's got to eat all that damn plant, leave it a stump, if he and his kin want to make it to being a butterfly. He isn't going to try and leave 3/4 of it pristine for next year. The plant is toast.

So, our earth is our food plant, we're going to have to leave it a burnt out husk if we're going to make it as a spacefaring species and not just wither on this tiny pebble of a planet. "What about the bloody whales?" I hear you thinking...

Whales went down an evolutionary dead end. No opposing thumbs, no hands even. Smelting metals under water is impossible, to invent the iron smelting process need air. They may have songs telling tales of whales millions of years ago, they may have a social structure way in advance of anything we could imagine. They may know love, loss, joy and melancholies that would melt our hearts, but they're not going to make it off planet. No metals, no technology, simple.

So, in 10,000 years, when we're spreading out amongst the stars and the earth is slipping away till it sometimes makes a misty appearance in lullaby and children's rhyme, it may even be whales that appear. A distant echo of their beautiful songs that comforted their young, their last mention as a human lullaby would be fitting if so. But could we take them with us? Maybe, if the right habitat is stumble upon, but the chances are vanishingly small. They will eventually got the way of Earth, forgotten.

But, if we hamper ourselves now, if we do not use all the ores, petrochemicals, isotopes and land area of the Earth now, we'll be stuck here and as a species, become extinct. As 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. For a species on this planet extinction is the norm, the natural end. Pushed out and out competed by new species.

We're that new species, and the extinctions you see around you now are natural. We have out competed and succeeded every other species, the earth is ours, we earned it. We had long enough paying our dues as our young were taken by big cats, hyenas, the ice, famine, disease. Our crucible was long, hard and full of pain. But our rewards will be the stars.

What is more natural? A bird's nest or a city? Both are places to live made by a species that have evolved on this planet. So neither, they are both totally natural constructs. Let's try that again, caterpillar or human? Well, we know what caterpillars do to their food plant, then they make a cocoon and fly away as a butterfly.

Here's the aspie bit, step back a little, take a deep time overview, take off the blinkers and actually look. We have our food plant, the Earth. Our cocoon is one of technology, we're using it to change ourselves, to protect ourselves, to move on to the next stage, a true metamorphosis. Our place is as butterflies amongst the stars, wither the whales then?

OK, i lied, it wasn't that i can divorce emotion from making choices. I think it's that i can take that step back, think on larger scales, move my imagination through vast distances and time. I am flooded with emotion when i think about a possible ancient whale society singing songs of great sadness across the oceans. But the emotions attached to our possible futures, 100 million years away in places only dimly glimpsed in my mind, are stronger, more beautiful, so full of hope and possibilities, I could cry for not being able to see it all. Nope, that rubbish too, I do cry for not being able to go with my species to fill the galaxy.

So, the eco, green, save the whales, organic, environmental movement is terribly misguided, woefully short sighted and demonstratably wrong. It's time to go, not stay and tend the garden.

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