Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Birth of Death

Just when would religious principles cause us more harm than good? When it starts to be irrational in the face of present circumstances.
H.R. Giger - "Birth Machine"; 1967, Ink on paper on wood, 170x110 cm

After Earth, Hell Comes

There is a very great drought! Fish in the sea, river and lake, boiled, hectic! A great famine do I see drawing near, turning from one way to another and becoming universal. A famine so great and so long that man shall become a man-eater!
- Nostradamus

Hollywood fantasy can often be prophetic. Some would be familiar with the film, "Soylent Green" starred by the late premiere actor, Charlton Heston (funny a young guy like me knows him). Being the couch potato that I am, a spate of late night cable movies happened to have his movie in the lineup. It was an interesting watch - and it brought to mind Nostradamus' famous quatrain (which I mentioned at the beginning). Considering the state of the world's ecology now, it can become a chilling reality. The greed of many top corporations hastens the time when there will be too little for so too many . It would come to a point when eating your neighbor would be commonplace - far worse than the zombies we so dread. Science has pointed out the various nutrients packed in human flesh: like iron, potassium, zinc, etc. Like cannibals, we would dine on fellow humans to survive. In the film, the old and invalid are exterminated then their remains processed into nutrient-packed biscuits (the infamous "Soylent Green") to feed a hungry future population. The young generation feeding on those rations would in turn become the future ingredients their descendants will feed on. Sanitized cannibalism. Even the weather right now is something that is a fraction of that in "The Day After Tomorrow". A spate of storms, flash floods, blizzards and the like curiously plagued us in 2012's advent. We would wonder if Hollywood is somehow beckoning us to heed its subliminal warnings.

As payment for man's transgression, Mother Nature belts out her fury in quick succession: the tragedies of Sendong and Undoy in the Philippines; ravaging bushfires in Australia and California; longer and harder drought spells in Africa and elsewhere. More torrid floods and freezing winters plagued some states in the US. A newer, more uncertain and harsher climate greets us in the present century.

Yet, the religions of the world exhort us - no, brainwash us - to churn out more children.

The Environmental Deficit
To date, we are 7 billion souls living off this chunk of rock. And the world becomes smaller each year as more families come to dot every livable square meter of land. As more humans multiply, more natural resources are consumed at a rapid rate.
It used to be that vast tracts of virgin rainforests dot the Amazon. From an early 80s satellite image of it, one can see miles of forest spread throughout - the trees color-coded a light rust brown. Now, huge swaths of red can be seen - the result of logging operations, legal and illegal. Older generations here in the Philippines reminisce how green the hills and mountains were in their youth. For Ilocanos of the north, the babyboomers remember the green tops that blanketed the mountains - that of Kalinga, Apayao and Bontoc among others. Now, they can shake their heads at their denudity - heralded by the bare brown on the mountainsides.
In Cebu, Philippines, the aquifers have lately become salty - the result of a burgeoning population draining the stored fresh water. When the fresh water is drained, seawater seeps in - the principle of osmosis at work. To solve it, the city's local government had to resort to desalinization facilities to purify the water.
At the turn of the 20th century, one would be puzzled by hearing the word "smog". Such a phenomenon was non-existent then. It was only in the 1940s was the word coined. The only fossil fuels then in use was coal but the pollution they caused was limited in scope. At the height of the industrial revolution, it was in cities that the effects of coal smoke are visible - especially in winter, when soot would fall with the snow blanketing the landscape a drab gray. It was unheard of in the countryside, and cities then were fewer. After a slew of inventors created a variety of internal combustion engines (coupled with the discovery and exploitation of crude oil), air pollution went in full swing. The worst recorded effect of it occurred in London in the late 40s. Tremendous amounts of car exhaust and factory smoke contributed to the zero visibility experienced by motorists on a foggy day. A considerable number of people with respiratory ailments saw themselves worsen at the height of the phenomenon. To describe it, they joined the words, "smoke" and "fog" into "smog" - a later addition to the English vocabulary.
To cap off the seriousness of air pollution's effects, last century's discovery of a huge ozone hole above the Antarctic - the result of centuries of using ozone depleting aerosols and gases- caused to melt the ice off the island and reveal expanses of green. The result may be pleasing but one should be reminded that the solar radiation levels there now are higher than normal. Every schoolboy knows that ozone helps to insulate the earth from harmful radiation emitted by the sun. Some chemicals (like CFCs - or chlorofluorocarbons) bind with the ozone and peel it off from the layer high in the atmosphere, causing its depletion. There is yet to be a way to restore the ozone to patch up the hole. But as years go by, the hole only grows wider and can threaten future areas unless serious measures are taken.

If the Church wants us to have more children, I don't know what the real reason is. I can only speculate but it both chills me to the bone and burns me to enumerate them. There are a hundred and one logical reasons why a present population boom is detrimental to us all but they still assert their reasons. They don't even realize they are also overstepping other principles of their creed when they insist on blind obedience. Whatever excuse they give, they are still accountable in the afterlife. Morality does not come from following the letter of the rule only - it comes from doing the obviously right thing at the moment. It is not following the law that makes one right but the motive of the act that determines it.

If I were God, I'd strike down the Christian priests continually demanding the faithful to have more kids. In His great wisdom, He would know how absurd it is to continue a doctrine that is out of touch with the present. Why bother with hell in the afterlife when you are creating your own hell in your lifetime? Their prudishness dangerously causes them and their flock to turn a blind eye to problems up ahead. Out of sheer fear, many religions exhort to cast aside reason and give way to blind obedience for its sake. It would be so liberating to shout at their faces how dumb they are. More babies to bear in this uncertain world? They only would grow up worse if that would be so. Better to have fewer people now to give time for the Earth to heal. Only then would we consider having more children. Yes, at some point men must taste hardship but there is a point when extreme hardship is unreasonable.

So God help us from those who exploit our faith.

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