Thursday, December 23, 2010

We Worship The Earth (That's Out To Kill Us All)

Why modern madness is unleashed by nature worshippers:
Remember the BP oil spill, and the lessons we were supposed to learn from it? For months last summer, we were riveted by daily updates from the Gulf of Mexico, as pundits galore offered up advice, not least that it is often dangerous and even downright despicable to fool with Mother Nature.

But as the conversation turns (alas, almost exclusively) to compensation for damages in the region, we need to look back at what was—and was not—discussed. There is this surprising and provocative fact: Oil itself, that yucky, death-dealing substance, is altogether natural (mostly compressed diatoms and other plankton). Here, accordingly, is a lesson from the Gulf, not so much about oil as about our shared attitudes and often unstated assumptions: Although we don't always like to admit it, nature isn't very nice.

Consider typhoid, cholera, polio, plague, and HIV: What can be more natural than viruses or bacteria, composed as they are of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and the like? Do you object to vaccination? You'd probably object even more to smallpox.

I suspect that those well-intentioned people who admire "natural" raw milk have never experienced the ravages of Campylobacter, pathogenic E. coli, or bovine tuberculosis, each spread by the unpasteurized McCoy.

In short, what is natural is often good, but not always. It may be natural to be a couch potato, to punch someone in the nose if he has angered you, for people to get sick, or for a child to resist toilet training. And of course, bacterial infections, lousy weather, and troublesome behavioral inclinations aren't the only regrettable entities out there in the oh-so-natural world. Don't forget hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, the devastation wrought by volcanoes, lightning storms, sandstorms, and blizzards. Oh, yes, also by oil.
We love the top photo. We've dubbed it "NewAge - doing what comes naturally".

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