Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ana responds: Earth & Environmental Damage

Question: I would like to know what Ms. Darcy thinks of what we've done to our environment. Do the Thomans see more that we can do to save Mother earth? (M133d)

Ana Darcy responds:

I have followed the matter of climate change on Earth with interest over the last few decades. It was a new problem to me, one Counselor Hleo and I never could have predicted. There is no such problem on Thomo, partly because of our people's history and partly because of the teachings of the Others, who transported us to Thomo so long ago. Perhaps my perspective as an "outsider" will be of interest.

As I mentioned in response to an earlier question, initially our people were animists. We depended on nature for our livlihoods and worshipped and existed in harmony with it. We no longer worship nature as a deity today, but we still consider ourselves the caretakers of our planet.

Secondly, the Others, who introduced us early on to writing, basic science, engineering, public health, and so forth, helped us understand the long-term consequences of our actions.

Finally, Thoman civilization has never approached the limits of our planet's environment. Our planet is slightly larger than Earth, we make little use of fossil fuels or non-biodegradable materials, and there are too few of us to stress the resources even if we had used them.

I have learned that Earth's environment has suffered cumulative damage over the last three hundred years or so. Over that time, technological progress has largely come at the cost of the burning of fossil fuels and other alterations of the environment. The increase in total human population over that same time span only worsened the problem.

It is understandable why it was not until the scientific advances of the last half century that the problem was identifed. Now, climate scientists generally agree that it is not too late to halt and perhaps reverse the process, and they suggest many methods for doing just that. But so far, little progress has been made.

As I see it, the main obstacle to restoring Earth's environment to healthy stability is summoning the collective will to act on the part of all the people of Earth, and doing so quickly enough to prevent mass climate change and severe disruption of the living patterns of hundreds of millions of people. The scientific, engineering, and economic resources are ready, but only if the motivation to employ them can be found.

I must admit the political and cultural complexities that must be overcome are bewildering to me. My people are basically one culture and one religion, but Earth has so many that their interaction often surprises and confuses me. I worry that there will never be sufficient agreement until the point at which the problems are impossible to ignore is reached. Rising sea levels, damaging storms, failed harvests, with the resulting chaos will surely prompt action. I can only pray it will not be too late.

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