At a time when sunlight is considered dangerous to humanity, we can remind ourselves that without the Sun there would be no life on Earth, and not even a planet Earth.
There is a new cancer treatment called “Photon therapy”, which aims to focus radiation with the accuracy of a Zen archer, leaving the body’s organ systems outside the bullseye.
“Photon Therapy” is what Planet Earth needs now. We need a technology that focuses the Sun’s rays on solar panels, while leaving human skin and the polar ice caps unscathed. Alas, it’s probably too late in the life of our planet to save the ice caps or restore to our offspring the pleasure of basking in the warmth of the Sun. Nor is it possible to magically sweep away the smog and clear the clogged waterways that choke the natural world–wherever two or more gather to burn the midnight oil. Ours is to slink from shadow to shadow, and to slather our bodies before venturing out from our lairs.
It’s too late to undo the damage that has already been done. And it will not be possible to quickly wean human society from its dependence on oil, natural gas, and coal (the big three underground resources whose ignition fueled the Industrial Revolution and whose prolonged use for the past two centuries is responsible for smog, increased cancer and respiratory diseases, and for punching a hole in the ozone canopy that shields Earth from harmful radiation).
Similar to the early dependence of baby mammals on their mother’s breast milk, which gives way to their diets as adults, surely the intelligence of the human species equips us to evolve beyond complete dependence on Mother Earth’s ‘black milk’. In both the natural and divine orders, weren’t we supposed to have evolved before we rendered the environment hostile to ourselves and to the species with whom we share our world?
International accords that pledge reduction in the consumption of non-renewable resources, for societies which increasingly rely on these resources (to heat homes, fuel transportation, build things, plant and harvest food, and keep our societies moving), is no longer enough.
There are no international resolutions that can quickly undo the global crisis which human behavior and human patterns of leadership have created. We can’t even reverse the momentums that continue to make everything worse.
I’ve always been dubious that technology can solve problems in which an unbalanced reliance on technology has been a principal culprit. However a Canadian friend of mine sent me a U-Tube video with the ‘glad tidings’ that a technological breakthrough can turn our planet in a new direction:
Technology that harnesses Solar Energy has already reached a point where the price per kilowatt is cheaper than the cost of producing electric power through burning fossil fuels. Large investment houses, like Citi Corp, are now putting their money where their profit is, because they realize that there will be an increasing demand for inexpensive solar energy and for the means to produce it.
Can we breathe a cautious sigh of relief? Is it possible that “Father Sun” and “Mother Earth”, together with human ingenuity, are opening a door to a future in which our species contributes to the restoration of a lost ‘paradise’, for the sake of our children and grandchildren? And what about all the creatures who share our Earth, many of whom are being taken down with us, as rats must have been taken down with the Titanic? Can we hold them in our hearts too, and build a few extra lifeboats?
I took an ecology course taught by Dr. Barry Commoner, who some years later ran for U. S. President. In his course (ca. 1968) he declared Lake Erie dead, forever, unrecoverable. His science and pessimism turned out be in error. There is always hope.
I grew up in a suburb of Montreal–a city island in the Saint Lawrence River–with water flowing past from the Great Lakes on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. In a matter of years, the water went from crystal clear above a clean sandy bottom to thick clogs of sea weed and algae with dead eels bobbing on the shore. The news that the Great Lakes were dying and that native fish were being replaced by Lamprey eels, sure seemed believable.
I’m glad that Lake Erie has bounced back. As you say, such recoveries can give us hope in the natural world’s capacity to restore balance. Perhaps I need to leave more room for that kind of hope in my thinking . . . But solar panels in place of smoke stacks may be the best contribution humanity can make to Nature’s inherent powers of self-healing.