Des Pensable copyright 2017
I’m just a scientist maybe I see things different to you. So I’m going to tell what I see.
When I walk into a forest I don’t just see trees. I see individual living creatures different from us but living none the less.
I see them constructed of leaves that harvest the sunlight, turning it into sugars that they use to grow and form their structure which is their flesh. I understand that they don’t need to move as everything they need it supplied free where they live.
When I see a leaf I think of the complexity of the chemical factories in it producing the sugars. I can take a leaf and break it and smell the aroma that it gives and immediately have an idea of the chemicals it has produced. I think of how the chemicals change between night and day and between seasons and whether it is sunny or wet or cold and whether there are more or less of some important trace mineral in the soil.
If it was a gum leaf I can smell the eucalyptus and it reminds of camping when I was a child. I remember the characteristic smell of the smoke of burning eucalyptus leaves. It also remind me of bush fires and how the burn very hot with the eucalyptus oils. I remember that the blue haze we see when we look at the Blue Mountains near my home in Sydney is from the eucalyptus oil vapour above the trees.
I look at the leaf and see it has a circular piece cut out. I imagine what sort of insect had eaten that piece of leaf. I wonder why it didn’t eat all the leaf. Was it a bird that came along and ate the insect or was it that the eucalyptus oil was toxic to the insect and it fell off to die and be eaten by another creature or did it just lie there dead until a fungus grew over it and it was absorbed into the earth.
I think about all the hundreds of insects that live in and on the tree’s bark. Families of them live their whole lives on the tree. I think of the lizards and spiders that prey on the insects and the birds that prey on the lizards, spiders and insects.
I think of the tree’s flowers that produce the nectar to attract the birds and insects that help the plant spread its seeds so that other trees may have life and those trees will give life to other insects, and spiders and birds and lizards.
I think of the tree breathing in carbon dioxide, using the carbon to construct its body and breathing out oxygen that all animals need for life. I see an intricate web of nature that forms our life support system on our planet the only home we have. I think of how other animals and man have lived near or passed by that tree and saw just a tree standing there.
I’m just a scientist maybe I see things different to you.
I see a man come to the tree and see its value only in what it can provide him. He can’t see everything else that has a life tied to that tree. He doesn’t care. He can use it to make money an invention he created in his mind. This money has value and all the life that surrounded the tree has none.
He can make objects out of the tree to sell for money or to use it as part of his house or he can simply burn its wood to warm him when it’s cold or throw it in a dump when he has no more value in money to him.
I’m a scientist maybe I see things differently to you.
When I put a microorganism in a dish with all the food it can eat I can watch as it reproduces until it covers all the area of the food and eats and pollutes all the food until every organism dies.
When I see humans chop down every tree to grow more food so that they can multiply I see them killing not only the trees but every other creature that lives on and near the trees. I see that the wonderful web of nature, which produces the oxygen that all life depends upon is being destroyed.
I’m a scientist that has observed the wonders of nature but I’m also a scientist that has observed and measured the effects of humans on the world. I’ve witnessed and measured the deterioration in our life support system that we are causing. I’ve measured the pollution and seen the sickness , death and disease it causes.
I’m a scientist maybe I think different to you.
I don’t know everything but I do know some things for sure. When our population grows so large that it chops down the last tree and pollutes the ocean enough to kill off that last phytoplankton in the oceans that produces the oxygen that all life depends upon, our life support system will fail. Humanity will be the parasite that killed its host.
We’ll all be dust in another failed experiment of evolution of life on Earth. Millions of other species have already preceded us. There is no reason to think we won’t follow them. Every thought that was ever thought, every word that was ever uttered or written, every song, story idea, experience of love and living will be gone forever.
The planet will survive and in a few million years life will be rekindled but without humans because we were so arrogant to believe we had the right to destroy everything living because we were more important than anything else.
I’m just a scientist and maybe I think differently to you.
I do know that the story doesn’t need to turn out this way. I do know we have a problem and the ability to fix it if we try. I also know that fixing the problem will mean changes in people’s lives and how we as a species view our importance in the world. I do know that this is the most important test in our lives.
Can we, like the caterpillar, change to the butterfly? Can we metamorphose into a new beautiful creation of Nature, or do we fail the test of evolution and vanish like so many species before us.
I’m just a scientist and maybe I think different to you.
Des Pensable is a scientist with degrees in microbiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and neuroscience.
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