Base Camp is where visitors go to relax, unwind, and get familiar with an anthology of earlier material.

Being Human: Stinky Despot

(First published on Urban Times on 28th Aug 2012)

This is a Spin Doctor special. It is going to push the envelope on the human condition with the aim to address the paradox of humanity on grounds of common sense, logic and fact; without reservation or inhibition; without being limited by propriety, etiquette or wishful thinking.

Human occupation of the planet as seen from space, indicated by bright lights (image: wikipedia.org)

Homo Sapiens: man and woman of knowledge; inventor, innovator, explorer supreme – and public enemy number one. A relentless mouth that has gobbled up much of the world over the centuries, littering the place with leftovers and waste.

Homo voracious. The way things are going, we will consume everything, destroying life as we know it.

To prevent this from happening, we have to re-conceptualize homo sapiens, giving it new meaning and purpose. Its nature can no longer be accepted, and neither can its actions. We must divert it, disengage it, disarm and brainwash it, if we are to stop going in circles and start moving forward.

Something Stinks

I mean, we could always live on recycled trash, thrive on it even, but that’s the route one takes when left with no choice.

The numbers are in and the data are clear. Energy is not generated out of thin air. Bar subatomic reactions that do not concern us, life needs life to feed on in order to sustain itself.

It needs to do so wisely, of course, so as not to deplete the host body and the resources it provides. We need to savor the stuff we need in order to lead a worthwhile life. I mean, we could always live on recycled trash, thrive on it even, but that’s the route one takes when left with no choice.

In other words, it’s time to do away with the fairy tales and call things as they are, ugly as they may be, so that we may deal with them. We have grown up, remember? We are not your average unaware creatures. We are sapient beings. We are well aware that we have overstepped our boundaries, taking a few bites too many out of the living construct we so depend on.

When The Excrement Hits The Fan

Regeneration and sustainability are key, and we must pursue them. Without reinvigorating the depleted parts of the world, while making sure we do not strain them anew, our choices remain few and unattractive.

We must do this in a way that does not force us to regress to rustic and parochial civilization. Been there, done that. The universe is too big to lose sight of just because we can’t get to grips with our development.

Some people will disagree with this style of argumentation. deeming it exaggerated or out of line. Maybe they’re right. I leave it up to them to decide. I dare them to call the “bluff” and find out for themselves, the honest way.

Byproducts of our consumption and development being dumped in the air we breathe. A monumental tragedy of the commons. (image by Wild Retina & David Carillet / www.wildretina.com)

With the suicidal among us preoccupied on how to engage a moot point, let us explore the issue with a rational, critical mind.

Let’s start with an appraisal of our actions.

Trashed

What we have done – voracious, mendacious fiesta – we have done at a price. The party was great, but the hangover is greater, massive; lasting. Humanity may have raised quality of life for its constituent members over the centuries, improving key parts of everyday living, from healthcare to sanitation, nutrition, culture, political representation, commerce and scientific knowledge, but it has done so at a price: at the cost of the earth’s biomass and biodiversity. Mass-wise, what we have razed and crushed and swept away in the process of our development is immeasurable.

The only way to grasp the figure is to examine the byproducts our development has left behind, gaging what came in. Input equals output, after all, so, by the power of very simple mathematics, we are able to grasp the amount of raw material we have consumed over the centuries by focusing on the scum we have left behind. I use the term scum deliberately, because pollution is a euphemism for refuse, trash and other waste material that does not adequately capture the simplicity of the process. In plain words, it’s ‘in one way, out the other’.

Like the trail of fecal and urinal material left behind by… any other living organism, our pollution tells our species’ story

Having called things by their name, let’s now break this scum down and see what it’s made up of: soot, heavy metal traces, radiation, plastic, microplastic, mold, CO2, methane, cockroach infestations, city rats, weeds, super-bugs – a nasty array of byproducts and filth that traces out our development and progress in real-life terms. Like the trail of fecal and urinal material – and everything that comes with it – which has been left behind by a pride of lions, a herd of elephants, a colony of ants, or any other living organism, our pollution tells our species’ story. What it says is that our consumption is unprecedented in size, shape, and scope, and very poisonous to all life on earth, including ourselves. It has permeated, inundated and surrounded the planet, threatening it with septic shock and horrible disease.

Excrement Happens – But Let’s Be More Careful

Some may argue that what we have to show for this scum is worth it. The wonders we have created are so extraordinary that we cannot possibly encapsulate human growth on the back end of our productions. We would be selling ourselves short.

The poetic among us could take it even further. Human pollution is the result of cleaning up our act, they would say. Scum is, after all, the waste product soap leaves behind when washing something clean.

Beijing, 2005. The picture on the right was reportedly taken on a clear morning, between 7-8 am. The picture on the left was taken on a different day, around the same time, after a two-day rainfall. This is just one example of many regarding human scum production. (image by Bobak / wikipedia.org)

It’s a valid point, but it isn’t solid. As things stand, we seem to have lost the plot. We have been focusing primarily on our eye-catching, bedazzling feats, all the while forgetting to mind our waste and refuse. Hence the mess we are in.

In other words, we may have gotten more technical, but we are still pretty filthy as a species, our scum permeating everything we do.

So much for the idealized myth of humanity and its squeaky clean claim on the throne of life. Myth busted. Every living organism needs to go to the toilet, including despots, and their business has to be done hygienically. If not, if it’s done out in the open, where these despots work, play, bathe, and grow food, then their entire dominion becomes a trashcan.

In other words, it’s time we cleaned up our act and started living a hygienic and respectable life, one which befits our sapience.

Wash Up Little Dung Beetle

Let’s begin with some good old brainwashing. Goodness knows we need it; it’s what got us into hygiene in the first place. Remember when you were a kid and didn’t want to wash up? When all you wanted to do was play and had to be explained over and over again that washing is good for you, that it’s what people do, that you have to do it every day, before every meal and after physical activity, to avoid disease etc?

Same with Homo Sapiens. We have learned to wash our hands and bodies but have yet to understand why we cannot toss our scum and wastage around, where we work, play, bathe and grow food. We have some work to do before stepping out of the bog and into the global limelight.

Eyes open, mind sharp, windows closed. Until the air clears up.