|Anthony Freda Illustration|
Could human intelligence be a lethal mutation? Catastrophes spawned by Earth’s most intelligent species suggest not only self-extinction, but annihilation of countless other species. Is the apparent disconnect between cleverness and wisdom primarily a human characteristic, and if so, what are the chances of human wisdom catching up with human cleverness?
Noam Chomsky gave a speech about human intelligence and the environment at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on September 30, 2010. With typical Chomsky eloquence he explored this question of lethality of the mutation of intelligence…referring to a debate between astrophysicist Carl Sagan and biologist Ernst Mayr regarding the possibility of discovering intelligent life somewhere else in the universe.
Who could not love Carl Sagan, the man who gave the term “billions” a personality? Ernst Mayr was widely considered “the grand old man of American biology”. Debating with Mayr, Sagan talked about “billions and billions” of other planets sharing Earth’s general profile, and there being no reason for intelligent life not to develop elsewhere. Mayr noted that of the billions of species that have existed on Earth, the average life span is about 100,000 years—nearly how long modern humans have been around. And Mayr basically argued that intelligence is a lethal mutation. Reinforcement of Mayr’s argument lurks all around, even inside of us.
Considering trajectory of the US, Earth’s currently most…shall we say, influential nation, humanity’s chances of surviving the disconnect between cleverness and wisdom seem less than favorable.
Albert Einstein…has anyone ever possessed a more exquisite grasp of reality? Not long after the US unleashed upon the world the power of the atom, Einstein warned us that humanity had only two choices: Abandon ALL forms of nuclear energy, or face extinction.
And now, of the various nails in humanity’s coffin, Fukushima has every potential to sink the deepest. Why else would there be such massive and elaborate suppression of Fukushima information?
Lucky for the monstrous nuclear energy industry that radionuclides, or hot particles are not easier to detect. But on the other hand, too bad for survival of the human species that hot particles don’t give off an odor as foul as their threat to life’s very code—because if they did, everyone in the northern hemisphere might be shouting, screaming, “What Stinks!?” Fukushima’s stench would be overpowering, impossible to hide.
In the weeks following the explosions at Fukushima, people in Seattle inhaled, on average, ten hot particles a day. Realistically, it can take only one hot particle shooting bullets at the genetic code of nearby cells to sooner or later cause cancer. In a number of major Western US cities the 35% spike in infant mortality caused by Fukushima fallout has been well documented.
Chances of soon witnessing an exodus of wealthy people moving their children to the Southern hemisphere seem as high as the radiation levels in the 600 square miles surrounding Fukushima (not counting the adjacent radiation dumping grounds of the Pacific Ocean, their backdoor).
It’s getting difficult to characterize with mere words, even hyperbole, the death potential atomically throbbing at Fukushima.
But Fukushima is merely the latest, if not to become the greatest wound inflicted by that elite club capable of bludgeoning the life from Earth. Operators knew within hours of the tsunami that three of their reactors had melted down, yet corporate took many weeks to get even close to admitting the truth. Consider that, admitting.
Also, please consider the term, “global hegemony”…simply a new euphemism for the perpetual alpha drive of taking over the world. The new euphemism has been further softened with the word “benign”, as in “benign global hegemony”, and that gets us back to the most influential nation on Earth, currently—but first:
Einstein said, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”
Hell is right….
The neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) authored one of the most important documents ever to be ignored by so many affected people: Rebuilding America’s Defenses (PDF). 9/11, cloaked as the “new Pearl Harbor” is clearly pined for. The whole document is a blueprint for “benign global hegemony”. And if that tenderized euphemism isn’t enough, you’ll also find in the very introduction: “American leadership is good both for America and the world.”
Problems with that include the actual leaders in “American leadership” not being those “elected” Charlie McCarthys continuously lying to your face; the real leaders operate levers of power behind many layers of heavy curtain…a place where what is good for America and Americans rank a low priority. Same thing for what is good for the world, and for humanity.
If good leadership is represented by what America does, instead of all the lies, the example certainly puts a sinister face on the idea of “good”. The world’s preeminent war profiteer, a nation causing the very term “humanitarian intervention” to scare the pants off people unfortunate enough to be targeted for intervention, supreme leader of the diabolical use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles…the list is very long, often gruesome.
And then there’s the fact of America being the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, ringing up 30% of the planet’s nuclear generation of electricity, and piling up immortal waste that it is just too expensive to be really safe with (it might actually be the waste that wastes us). The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the most contaminated site in the Western hemisphere. The amounts of waste boggle the mind; hideous death amassed in large part through production of nuclear weapons and stored precariously along the Columbia River, 130 miles southwest of where I write, 200 miles upstream of Portland, Oregon.
The purported leader of America, Barrack Obama, could be the world’s head of state most beholden to the nuclear power industry. Excelon corporation, among the globe’s top three nuclear power giants, has long been a top contributor to Obama campaigns. John Rowe, chairman and CEO of Excelon, is one of 15 members of Obama’s “blue ribbon commission on America’s nuclear future”. Obama is super gung ho on nuclear energy.
Suppression of information regarding Fukushima—and now, troubles at Nebraska’s two nuclear power plants due to flooding—it’s easy to see that the nuke good ol’ boys don’t want the public to think about grave dangers posed by even a single nuclear reactor. And it makes one wonder: What were they thinking, building nuclear power plants on a flood plain? That’s almost as bad as building them in one of the most earthquake-prone areas on Earth (Japan).
They were thinking profit.
The US has 104 reactors operated by 30 different power companies. Earth has a total of 440 commercial reactors; add to that roughly 250 research reactors, and 180 reactors powering submarines and other ships. About 17% of the world’s electricity generation comes from nuclear reactors. By country the amount of electricity from nuclear reactors ranges from a few percent, up to France’s 75%.
The 17% of global electricity from nuclear reactors could, with decent leadership, be easily made up for with conservation, and especially, energy efficiency upgrades. So why expose the genome of humans and every other species on Earth to such grave danger? The two reasons are so lethally entwined as to be virtually inseparable: politics, and money.
Americans can hardly be held responsible for what leadership does in their name. We are being held hostage roughly the same as the bulk of humanity. As far as deserving outrageous fortune brought to us by leadership…millions of Americans are decent people ready to help if decent leadership showed them how. Also, decent people tend to not impose themselves, so their numbers are often underestimated. Conversely, the crass tend to get right in your face, so it doesn’t take many to make them seem everywhere.
Americans by and large are likely nowhere near as crass as American leadership reflects. Chances are probably good that, if actually given a choice, Americans would reject nuclear energy the same as, say, Germans, Italians, and now certainly, the Japanese….
In the original movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, released in 1951, the alien humanoid Klaatu lands his ship in Washington D.C. on a goodwill mission. Humanity’s development of atomic power, first steps into space—and especially their penchant for violence has alarmed people of other planets. These other people created omnipotent robots to deter their own aggression, robots such as Gort, who accompanies Klaatu and is damn impressive. If humanity threatens to extend their violence into space, Klaatu warns that the robots will eliminate Earth. Before he and Gort depart, Klaatu declares, “The decision rests with you….”
Now that we’re so mired in our own aggression that we don’t threaten any planet butour own…I keep envisioning a return of Klaatu and Gort to Earth. On their new goodwill mission, Klaatu intends to convey simple wisdom that might save us from our cleverness. “If wisdom catches up with cleverness,” he might say, “a whole new sphere of transcendence prevails.”
Wisdom to counter Mayr’s argument that intelligence is a lethal mutation?
Klaatu’s main message: “Humanity’s greatest problems might be resolved simply by banning from positions of power anyone who would seek power.”
Unfortunately, my vision has Mayr prevailing (regarding human intelligence at least). Same for Einstein.
Klaatu and Gort arrive too late to forestall the day the Earth stood nil….
Might wise leadership somehow grant us a better vision…a better way?
The Supreme Court ruling last year that protects First Amendment rights of corporations by essentially giving them utter control of elections sure seems unwise.