Who Is In Control?

No, this is not a political question. This is much bigger, a man vs. nature question. I have a fair idea of my place in the universe, which is not much. I am tiny piece of protoplasm floating around in a remote part of one galaxy in a billion. If me and my entire planet were to vanish overnight, no one but us would ever notice. One way or the other, we are going to do that someday, anyway.

Somehow, though, human beings have the idea that we are special. Further, they have the feeling that we are somehow in control of things. I think that’s because most of us have huge egos, for the first part, and because we have been clever enough to exert some control over our immediate micro environment, for the latter. We can close it in, we can heat it, cool it, and light it. I’m sorry, but that’s not really a big deal. Besides, it is most apparent that we are having much larger effects on the greater macro environment, but they are all unintended and highly negative, like global warming and pollution.

Next time you think we have control over our own destinies, just take a look at the news. The event that jumps out right now is the recent earthquake in Chile. I know, you think it can’t happen right now and right where you are. Well, you’re wrong. I used to live in California and went through a lot of earthquakes. Now I live in Kansas, so I’m immune, right? Wrong. I live right next to the fault (the New Madrid) that caused the largest earthquake in U.S. history.

It seems that a volcano of some significance blows its top every few years, somewhere. But most of those are someplace else and won’t ever affect you, right? Wrong. One of the largest volcanoes in the world lies under most of Yellowstone Park (The Yellowstone Caldera) and is way overdue for eruption. The ash from the explosion from that super-volcano would bury places like Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati under 12-30 feet (feet!) of white hot residue, with dire effects from coast to coast and border to border. Bye, bye, U.S.

Then there is the not-so-friendly tsunami, the rapidly-spreading deadly virus , the incoming earth-busting meteor, and a whole score of other disastrous possibilities. Global warming alone, with the expected rise in ocean levels and shift in agricultural zones, is very likely to completely disrupt the lives of most people on the planet, and yet it is but a relatively minor shift in the way the planet works. Some scientists are convinced that the change in the weather will lead to a planet-wide ice age, which very few human beings would live through.

Don’t kid yourself. We are living at the unconscious mercy of a random, uncaring universe. I am the first to say that the universe is a marvelous and fascinating place. Logic tells me, however, that it is at least as dangerous as it is marvelous. Ask the dinosaurs.

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