Five years ago I wrote a piece for the “Watts Up With That” website called “Micro-critters Rule”, to some degree spoofing Alarmist’s contention that they completely understand the biology of the Arctic, but also marveling at the way life can colonize the most extreme landscapes. I stated life is rugged and can take on all challenges. In some ways this ran completely against the Greenpeace belief that nature is extremely fragile and we humans should be banned from walking on large parts of it, because we break everything we touch.
I began by bringing up something which always seems to disturb environmentalists who sail the Northwest Passage, which is that Nature has her own private strip-mine up there, bluffs of exposed lignite coal which have been self-igniting, combusting and producing a rank stench for eons, called “The Smoking Hills”.
In like manner nature produces the La Brea Tar Pits, the sulfur springs of Yellowstone, and the oil slicks of the Gulf of Mexico. Yet rather than extinguishing life, life steps up to the challenge, and chows down on noxious chemicals like candy. This is especially true of the smallest examples of life. Even in Yellowstone’s geysers, at temperatures approaching boiling, species of life kick back and call it home.
One particularly bleak landscape exists in the arctic, after the glaciers recede. It is a landscape devoid of organic matter: It is either rock scoured by ice, or else sand and gravel washed by thousands of years of ice-water. All organic matter has been transported hundreds, even thousands, of miles away to the south, and no carbon is available to form the building blocks of life, so such starkness doesn’t enter into Alarmist’s concerns about Global Warming.
All their focus is on another landscape, the “permafrost”, rich in carbon. The permafrost can be a surprisingly deep ooze made up of wet and incompletely composted topsoil, (which includes some mysteries, such as young plants strangely churned down far below levels one would expect to find them). The Alarmist fear was that Global Warming would speed up the composting process, causing the permafrost to burp and belch huge amounts of greenhouse gasses.
I wasn’t all that worried, for my own study of history led me to believe it was warmer in the Medieval Warm Period, and that, if the burping and belching of primal ooze didn’t lead to runaway warming back then, it would not lead to runaway warming now. However the Alarmists not only were worried, but some were panicked.
This led to a fight among Alarmists between the alarmed and the panicked, which interested me for I am always interested when my opponents eat their own.
The panicked were not worried about CO2, because it was a pipsqueak greenhouse gas compared to methane. Methane was a far more potent greenhouse gas, and methane would be sure to be belched by thawing permafrost, for it is belched as “swamp gas” by every other mire on earth. They were certain the planet could not handle the increase, and were quite angry other Alarmists were not alarmed enough.
However it turns out there is an arctic creature which actually chows down on methane. It lives not in the carbon-rich permafrost, but in those stark landscapes of bare stone and washed gravel and sand which are practically devoid of carbon. These micro-critters snatch methane from the air, and are the pioneers that colonize the wasteland, laying down the first traces of carbon which allow lichens to follow, which allow mosses to succeed them, leading to grasses and the finally the first willows and conifers. As far as these micro-critters are concerned, the more methane the merrier.
At this point I’d like to diverge from the direction my original article went, (which was to talk of other microcritters which no one suspected lived on the underside of arctic sea-ice), and instead to focus on the panic some felt about any sort of superabundance of methane.
Basically the panic was due to an incomplete understanding of the majesty of creation. In essence, we mortals are prone to leaping to conclusions. We think we have everything figured out, when in fact we have lots to learn. We are basically too big for our britches, and the younger you are, the smaller your waistline tends to be, and therefore the young have smaller britches and it is easier for the young to get too big for them. (Or, I should confess, this was true of me.)
As one gets older one experiences, like a weatherman, times when their forecasts are incorrect. One becomes aware they are not as smart as they think. This seems to be especially true when it comes to what must be described as “worry”. In the case of many, what they worried would happen never came to pass, but in my own life the very things I worried would happen did happen, and much to my surprise I didn’t die, nor merely survive, but actually benefited.
This brings me to the current panic about the corona virus. People are behaving as if worry is a reality, rather than a creation of our imagination. Rather than “Don’t worry; Be happy”, people say, “Do worry; Be unhappy.”
I will appear cynical, but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t point out that the people most interested in fueling the worry are those who suffer from the error of thinking they stand to gain, if others suffer. Some doctors care more about making money than healing, and some politicians care more about gaining power than serving.
The fact of the matter is that this is but one virus out of many. We are part of a world where we are exposed to countless virus every day, and countless bacteria as well. Some of these micro-critters are actually helpful to us. They help us digest our food, and help us remain healthy in other less-well-understood ways.
For example, children exposed to lots of dirt and even manure on a farm tend to have stronger immune systems than children who live in very clean environments. There is some evidence that, if the body is not challenged by outside virus and bacteria, its immune system goes haywire and attacks itself. This manifests as various “allergic” responses, which take forms as varied as mild sneezing, to asthma, to the immune system attacking joints, (arthritis).
This is not to say that children on a farm should not have tetanus shots, or shouldn’t wash food fertilized by manure. However one can go too far, and can allow worry to rule.
If you “quarantine” yourself to an excess, you are actually weakening your immune system. If you don’t go to the beach, you are not exposing yourself to a thousand micro-critters in the seaweed, and if you don’t play on the playground or golf-course you are not exposing yourself to another thousand. Just as a muscle gets weaker if you never work out, your immune system gets weaker if you never go out.
Therefore when the quarantine is lifted we should expect a surge in sniffles and fevers.
I can just imagine what the media will make of such a surge. They will suggest we should all rush back into quarantine, when it was the quarantine that caused the problem in the first place.
Before you leap to conclusions (and become too big for your britches) I’d like to give two examples when the obvious conclusion was incorrect.
When the bubonic plague was killing between a quarter and half the people in towns in Europe, it was noticed many Jews didn’t get the plauge. Therefore it was concluded Jews were poisoning non-Jews. Wrong. The simple fact of the matter was that the plague was spread by fleas, and Jews had cleaner households and fewer fleas.
During the polio epidemic of 1954 is was noticed that poor Mexicans didn’t get it. Therefore it was concluded chili peppers were the cure. Wrong. The simple fact of the matter is that polio is spread by water, partly by sneezed aerosols but also by unsanitary drinking water and swimming pools. Also, if you are exposed as a child the illness is far less severe, in most cases. Mexicans were exposed when young, while non-Mexicans were older, and suffered more.
In the above two cases one sees Jews saved by cleanliness while Mexicans were saved by the inability to be so clean. Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but one should not jump to conclusions and call dirty gardeners ungodly for growing flowers. Nor should we intentionally eat manure. We should not think we know it all. We should not be too big for our britches.
The expression “too big for your britches” actually was coined by the American congressman Davey Crockett about the American president Andrew Jackson (though Crockett called britches “breeches”.) This shows you the stuff we are now dealing with is not new. Politics brings out the worst, and, occasionally, the best.
The best politicians care more about serving than gaining power, just as the best doctors care more about healing than about getting rich.
In order to become worthy of the word, “best”, they obey an ancient spiritual law which asks us to love. Not only to “love thy neighbor”, but to “love thy enemy”. The best doctors take the Hippocratic oath very seriously.
Sadly, some in the current Corona Virus Crisis are more interested in power and money than they truly care about you and me. When China cut off all air traffic from Wuhan to other parts of China, but urged air traffic to other parts of the world, they were not loving their neighbors. And when pharmaceutical companies and their sycophants salivate over our tax dollars for research grants for vaccines that don’t exist, and peddle pills that cost over a thousand dollars, and attempt to suppress pills that cost a half dollar, they are not good Samaritans.
Opposed to such denial of spirituality are some doctors who take their Hippocratic oath seriously. Then we witness such good men banned from posting on Facebook. It makes the common man aware some non-spiritual people want to repress Freedom of Speech. It makes us worry.
Worry is unwise. Instead we need to simply trust in Truth, and do what good politicians and good doctors do, stand by the Truth.
You may be banned from Facebook, and lose social standing in other ways, and even lose your livelihood and join the poor. But, “blessed are the poor”. And also, “It is easier for an camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven.”
It is hard not to worry, and to even become paranoid, when we witness ordinary people expressing ordinary concerns being banned from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or what-have-you. If you can’t handle feeling suspicious, do not stimulate your paranoia by watching the following statements of a formerly-famous female virus-researcher (whose statements are now banned from YouTube). (To make the link work remove the hyphen).
Personally, I’m very tired of paranoia. I’ve been dealing with it for more than a half century. When I was a boy my father, a surgeon, threatened the livelihood of psychiatrists by suggesting they didn’t obey the rules of science. They marshaled a nasty push-back, a concerted effort to prove my father was insane (and he did become very mad, about what they did). Therefore I am all too acquainted with how ugly life gets when you threaten another man’s precious purse, and my personal escape from it has been to have an empty wallet.
Now I’m old, and able to be glad I chose to be poor. Where others have lived ugly lives, mine has seemed beautiful to me. Where others cringed and responded out of fear of losing their precious purse, I’ve learned to understand that great line, “when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” Of course, a man with a mansion will not listen to a man sleeping in a dented old car. He has eyes but cannot see.
Instead of attempting to argue with those who insist there is some benefit in harming others, I just look at the dirt, and at the micro-critters behind the Corna Virus. They are life, part of a creation created by a Creator who likes life, and sustains it as a reflection of what He is, which is above all Love.
The Corona Virus is but a solitary germ midst a vast pantheon of micro-critters we can’t see, part of an ebb-and-flow of life. To them a mote of dust in a sunbeam is a giant planet, and the interplay and interrelations between them all is a fabulous balance crucial to the crucible brewing life. The so-called “experts” in microbiology are fools, if they think they see more than the tip of a tip of a tip of an iceberg. And if they take it a step further, and audaciously insist they alone can come up with the “cure”, a patented miracle drug and/or vaccine they “own”, and that everyone should stay home until they come up with their miracle drug and/or vaccine, for the solitary germ called the Corona Virus, than even fools start to shake their heads in wonder, for even fools recognize they are not the Creator of life, and rather are part of the Creator’s creation. “Experts”, however, dream of power, control, domination, and of ruling all, when they cannot rule even a micro-critter.
People besotted by power think they control, but have no control over their own arrogance and, oddly, their own worry. China’s draconian responses are like a worried old lady’s. For example, it’s “One Child Policy” was based upon worry about overpopulation. Rather than solving a problem the One Child Policy created a graying population with too many old people, which requires new draconian responses. Behind all the “policy” is a disregard of life, and much cruelty, based largely on worry.
People who base their lives on worry’s fear often create the very situations they fear most. The law of unintended consequences kicks in, along with any number of Murphy’s Laws, and, if I ignore my own advise and fall prey to worry, I worry that the people who seek to “control” viruses, and through mandatory vaccinations to “control” people, (and perhaps even to “control” population by decreasing it by seven billion), will make some science fiction movies become real. The plot would have unexpected twists and turns, such as a virus mutating so that it only attacks the rich and powerful who think they are vaccinated against it. Also people who have little regard for life tend not to trust each other, and, just as Stalin “liquidated” and “purged” nearly every fellow communist of his own age whom he had initially called “comrade”, the plot would involve betrayal and backstabbing and the rich and powerful eating their own, and times would get darker and darker until…
Until humanity gets sick and tired of it. Perhaps hyperinflation would make money worthless, as cataclysms made power meaningless. At that point people would long for what was abandoned when politicians put power before service, and doctors put money before healing, and what would that be? Life.
Then, according to lore, the Creator of Life, seeing so many turn to Him, will ride down from the sky midst great glory to our rescue. Then the world will be returned to the way He intended it to be, where even the smallest germ reflects his Love. And, also according to lore, even if we die before this Great Day, we will be somehow revived, and will get to see it.
So….see you there.