Sunday, April 26, 2015

Frogs and the Future

One Sunday last month the frogs in the pond by the front door were doing what frogs do at this time of year. Buddy and Teddy and Louie were fascinated by the activity and the songs the frogs were singing. A week later the pond was quiet, the surface frozen and the eggs probably not doing well. It happens that way from time to time.

The amazing thing, I think, is that as soon as the weather returned to what it should be at the end of March (the lamb period), we again heard the frog songs and saw egg masses and in a short time, were able to watch the tadpoles in motion. Which brings me to the subject of this essay: the ability to carry on despite the odds.

We share with other living things the ability to overcome difficulties that arise and, in ways we don’t always notice, change our lives. For most life forms that ability is instinctual; a built-in mechanism for survival. For humans, there is also invention and innovation to keep us moving forward. We see it on a grand scale when people survive accidents, disasters and wars, and we work to prevent such things happening again. We see it and experience it more personally when we make decisions, take actions that lead to harm and failure for ourselves and those around us. Yet we keep on doing, keep on moving forward. We have not yet succeeded in removing ourselves completely from the world. But we may be coming close.

The obvious signs are in front of us. Sea level rise, temperature rise, extinction of species, shifting patterns of climate are there to read and understand. And there are many who insist that it isn’t something we can moderate or modify. Worse than that, there are those who will not accept responsibility for what is happening. Not even a little bit of sharing of the causes. But that’s okay. Life will, as long as the planet is habitable, continue to support life. Maybe just not human life.

It has long been my personal view that the basic elements of life, the chemical basis, the combination of sun and water and vegetation and animals, microbes and molecules can change or adapt to whatever is surrounding us. Nature, to give it a broad-based identity, will survive and perhaps even adjust to living without a breathable atmosphere (as the human body currently requires), creating instead life forms that can survive with a different breathable gas mixture. I have no idea what forms those might be, what shapes they might take, what capabilities and capacities they might have. I simply feel that unless we do something to preserve ourselves (and the world in which we thrive), not just frog eggs and human eggs will become history. In the long run, over the span of earth’s history, this planet will probably cease to exist, much as some others in our solar system. Humans may or may not escape in sufficient numbers to begin again life as we know it. But I am confidant that life, some form of it anyway, will continue if not here, then elsewhere.

Nature is still the strongest force on earth.

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