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  • Writer's pictureAryan Shah

What are we (in under 600 words)?

I often think of Earth as a living system, an organism.

It's made of so many different fundamental elements such as the seas, the skies and the land. These can be the Earth's organs. But what if we delve deeper into these 3 parts? Each system has its own complex wiring of different systems:

  1. Oceans have ecosystems, current patterns, temperature thermoclines and circulation models.

  2. The skies have different altitudinal layers and heat distribution mechanisms (Rossby waves and jet streams)

  3. The land provides countless habitats, much nutrition for a small proportion of the entire biosphere and proves to be a host for much tectonic activity.

So, what if we consider all of these different systems within the organs of the Earth as tissue and cells? Each one is specialised in its own unique way, but put them together and they can all work in harmony to ensure that the Earth works the way it is meant to. This is the homeostasis, the balance and maintenance of a constant internal environment (due to internal and external changes).

Now 7 million years before 2021, we managed to evolve by some miracle of Darwin (not saying God, please drop a comment to ask why!).

I think of humans as disrupting this equilibrium of homeostasis as the disease, the pathogen that infects the cells and tissue of the Earth as an organism.

Why you ask?

Well, that’s because much of what has gone into our survival and continues to be input into results in detrimental consequences for the Earth’s individual systems, and therefore affecting the whole organism. Dr. Christopher Ryan argues that we are being “civilised to death” in his new book of the same title, implying that what we define as ‘progress’, is really the opposite; a transition into the chaotic collapse of society as we know it.

This I feel has a strong part to play in the effects, our approach and way of thinking towards our planet – do we save ourselves or save the world?

Assuming you know about the whole climate change and global warming conundrum and what part we play in this, then I need not explain the specifics of the impacts we have on Earth.

But to state again, we are the disease in this intricate organism we call home.

As Languimir and Broecker say in ‘How to Build a Habitable Planet’, “chaotic states, the most minuscule change in ‘value A’ leads to a completely different set of results, such that the state of the system at future time cannot be predicted”. Here, they describe chaos theory and how the smallest change causes the largest variation in results. This applies not only to simple mathematical equations, but also to how we live our lives on a daily basis. What impact will that small thing you are doing have in the future? Is it worth it?

Sustainable thinking forms a definite and reliable future as I say.

One final thing for you.

Canadian historian Ronald Wright stated that “each time history repeats itself, the price goes up”. Let that sink in and help you decide what future you want to build for yourself and your descendants.

Do you want to become the gut bacteria of the Earth or stay as its’ tuberculosis bacteria?


Civilised to Death - Christopher Ryan - date accessed 1/2/21

How to Build a Habitable Planet - William Smith Broecker, Charles Languimir - date accessed 7/9/19

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