Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A time of quiet reflection.

New visitors to the chronicles from the future may first wish to visit the past, by reading the earlier hologramletters. (see the older listings on the right, go to the bottom and click the link to the earlier hologramletters)

NOTE The following is an adaptation from the soon to be released book ‘Letters From 2030’. To register interest on its release, or to order a copy email Bob Williamson via this link.

The night had passed with refection on how far we had come from the beginning to where we now were, in the short history of man.

As he sat there in the dim luminescence provided by the plants he had propagated, he read the excerpt from his book.

It was of the sobering description of man’s time on earth from David Brower, an eighty-five-year-old retired executive director of the Sierra Club. David had put us, our history as a species, our agricultural revolution, and our Industrial Revolution into a thoughtful perspective by compressing all geological time, from the initial formation of the earth some 4.5 billion years ago, right up to now into the six days of biblical creation.

Using that compressed time scale (one day = 750 million years), Earth is formed by a solar nebula at midnight, the beginning of the first day Monday. All day Monday is spent getting geologically organized. There is no life until Tuesday morning about 8:00 a.m. Amazingly, life, beginning with that first spontaneous cell somewhere in the primordial oceans, lifts itself by its own bootstraps, and survives. The prokaryote bacteria appear quickly then proliferate, into mind-bending diversity, ever more complex. About Tuesday noon the blue green algae already begin to create oil deposits.

Millions upon millions of species come during the week, and millions go. What begins as a very toxic and hostile environment gradually is detoxified and sweetened as each species, through its metabolic processes, prepares the hostile environment for the next species, and the next, gradually sweetening earth’s evolving biosphere and preparing the way for those that preceded us, and for us.

Thursday morning, just after midnight, photosynthesis—gradually building since Tuesday—gets going in high gear. Oxygen begins to accumulate in the atmosphere and the protective ozone shield begins to develop. Soon after, early Thursday morning in the wee small hours, more complex eukaryote cells, like those that will come to make up our own bodies, appear. Life begins then to really flourish and evolve into more diverse and complex forms.

By Saturday morning—the sixth day, the last day of creation—there’s enough oxygen in the atmosphere and sufficient ozone shield in the stratosphere that the amphibians can come onto land, and there has been enough chlorophyll manufactured for the forests and other land vegetation to begin to form coal deposits.

Around four o’clock Saturday afternoon the giant reptiles appear. They hang around for quite a long time as a class of animals goes, until 9:55 p.m., nearly six hours. (That would be really long for a species. None has lasted that long and our species is not likely to either!). Just a few minutes after they are gone, a bit after 10:00 p.m. Saturday night, the primates appear. (Incidentally the Grand Canyon begins to take shape only about sixteen minutes before midnight.) Australopithecus, the first species on that branch off the main primate branch, the one that eventually leads to us, shows up in Africa at 11:53 p.m., seven minutes ago.
Homo sapiens arrive at 11:59 and 54 seconds—That is us!


The last six seconds at the end of a very long week, that’s how long we’ve been here. “Let the Party begin.” But the party becomes a binge when, just a little over one second ago, 1.2 seconds in geological time, we (our forefathers) throw off the habits of hunting and gathering and settle down to become farmers, and begin to change and sacrifice the environment to suit, and feed, our appetites.

A third of a second to midnight: Buddha. A quarter of a second to midnight: Jesus of Nazareth. One-fortieth of a second ago, the Industrial Revolution ushers in the age of technology; the party picks up steam, so to speak, and kicks off the great carbon blow-out that will characterize the first Industrial Revolution.

An eightieth of a second, we discover oil and the carbon blow-out accelerates. One two-hundredths of a second ago we learn how to split the atom, and the party gets very dangerous, indeed. I would show a timeline for this week, but the last one-fourteenth of a second would not be discernible. If the timeline were one mile long, the Industrial Revolution would occupy the last .003 inch!

One human lifetime, about 0.001 inch.

And now it’s midnight, the beginning of the seventh day.

God is resting while we work.

As he finished reading and he put the book down, the words of an old song back from 2008 came to him ‘How far we’ve come.’ – ‘I believe the world is coming to an end, Oh well I guess we’ll just pretend.’

He walked over humming it to his hydroponic vegetable garden – a rye smile came over his face as he remembered being told that plants responded to music.

The morning would soon come and the day would pass, while he waited to see if any transmission would arrive from somewhere in the world. A hologramletter that would allow him to see through others eyes and memories, the present as it was and the past how it had been.

He picked up the book once more and read the words.

“Will we ask with 20/20 hindsight what could we have done? Or will we with 20/20 foresight, do what needs to be done?”

He now knew the answer to his 21 year old question.

1 comment:

  1. How amazing and how succinctly to see the life of man. One thing is for sure, although we are causing another great extinction event. Life on this little blue orb will survive.

    Very sobering reading, how can anyone read this and not want to do more and change their lifestyles for the future, for their children.