Over the past twelve months, we have all to some extent become fledgling virologists. Every news bulletin is presented in front of a large screen emblazoned with various Covid-19 info-graphics depicting how the virus attaches itself to the human cell, opens up a way in and infects the cell until the point where it is either extinguished by antibodies that the cell produces or it takes hold and kills its host, propagating and replicating.
Over the same time period, I have had some very interesting dinner table discussions with the family, and especially my nineteen year old son who is currently studying English Literature and Creative Writing at University.
He loves engaging in thought-provoking dialogue and I’m more than happy to deliberate and cogitate his musings and arguments and wade in with my opinions, so after re-watching Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman, my thoughts turned back to Covid-19 and the info-graphic depicted above on how the microscopic world of an individual cell and things attacking it could be viewed on a much larger scale and how humanity is self-creating real and credible threats to our very existence on Planet Earth, and how cause and effect is impacting our ecosystem.
My opening statement was that humanity (not unlike Agent Smith from The Matrix), is a virus that is attacking the very ecosystem it needs to survive. A virus is defined as “an agent that infects living organisms, often causing disease and death, which in itself is unable to replicate without a host”. Whilst I concede that Earth is may not be conscious (in the way that our brains are) and it does not have a sense or morality, when viewed as a single organism, it is living and can generate effects from the various causes imposed on it to protect itself from extinction.
I took up my pen (converted to a jpeg for clarity) and drew a crude Covid-19 virus molecule and replaced each S-Protein nodule with each anthropogenic risk we are currently facing (adding a non-anthropogenic risk for good measure) and discussed each one at length:
- Nano Technology: Also known as grey goo, the current train of thought is that as humanity advances technology and things get smaller and smaller, there is (however small, nano even) a risk that molecular nanotechnology becomes out-of-control and self-replicating machines consume all of the biomass on Earth while building more of themselves, which in theory could consume the entire planet down the core with nothing Mother Earth could do to prevent it. The stuff of science fiction horror movies perhaps, but still a potential risk but we agreed that we would likely not see this one materialising any time soon
- War: What is it good for, absolutely nothing (except for the economy of course, as described rather simply and expertly in Zeitgeist: The Movie – one of the best documentaries I’ve seen). The most clear and present danger that humanity currently faces is the ability to destroy itself by conflict, by war. History tells us that a global foot war would never wipe us out as there would lways likely be a winning side. A nuclear war and associated nuclear winter could of course do two things, wipe out humanity plus many plants and animals but the Earth could recover in time (much in the same way it did during the dinosaur era), or toxify the atmosphere and boils the seas so much that all carbon-based systems cease to exist and Mars 2.0 happens
- Pollution: It is abundantly clear climate change is here and having a huge impact our ecosystem. Through heavy industry, toxic/plastic waste, deforestation, desertification, natural resource extraction and consumption, the effects are stark and plain for asll to see (whilst not including certain deniers and Paris Accord withdrawers). If those are the main causes, then the effects are equally as numerous, with Earth (in a non-conscious way) producing storms, fires, floods, famines, viruses, earthquakes and even plagues of locusts, all very biblical and ominous. In theory, Earth could in fact continue to react in this way until humanity is wiped out and the order is reset and recovery takes place. Whilst war seems to be the primary risk to life on Earth, if left unchecked climate change is a close second.
- Artificial Intelligence: We all love a good dystopian novel/movie, with seminal classics like The Matrix, Terminator and latterly Westworld spinning a shared narrative that self-realising machines become super-intelligent and wage war against humanity until it’s near ultimate demise. Whilst there many benefits to automation (I myself am heavily involved in developing intelligent monitoring systems – not in a state surveillance way I might add), there is a danger, however limited that self-awareness and autonomously acting systems could in theory wreak havoc and Stephen Hawking himself theorizing that AI could indeed see the end of the human race. A quick look at the Boston Dynamics production line (Atlas and Spot which are now available via mail order) would and should give some insights to the potentiality and realisation that a new order could be created if the light-bulb ever gets flicked on, however small the risk appears today
- Bio Technology: A biological war could in theory make the human race extinct if a virus reached 100% of the population and had a 100% mortality rate, but Mother Earth (which can do nothing to prevent a man-made biological war) would continue and positively recover from everything man has thrown at it. We may never get to find out how Covid-19 was released on to the human race (by accident or by design), but the wonderful thing about a virus is its ability to mutate to survive, so if you believe that it was released by design by some sort of illuminati / NWO, then lets hope they keep full control on the SAR-COVID-2 strand and don’t let the mortality rate increase to 100%, else that could be end of days territory.
- Resource Consumption / Overpopulation: Clearly we have problem, arguably the biggest problem and most realistic threat to our way of life. David Attenborough has said that overpopulation is the biggest existential threat to life on Earth, if we don’t do something about it, nature will do it for us. We have seen unprecendented natural disasters over the last few years and as the planet gets warmer and wilder, and as we consume more than we can produce – using mass-production techniques which release more CO2e into the atmosphere, then our ability to cultivate the land diminishes, desertifcation increases and as such the increasing population goes hungry, until at some point we have burned all the trees, destroyed all of the soils, raised all salty sea levels leaving our ecosystem infertile. Some say that Covid-19 is naturally occurring and it is a curse that Mother Earth has put on us to wake us up to the root cause of our problems, over population.
- Genetic Modification: A few Hollywood films have placed such a concept onto the silver-screen. We play God by mapping out our DNA strand and modifying it to iron out the kinks, remove all defects to create post-modern-man, with catastrophic consequences. There is also the notion of cybernetics, where man replaces carbon-based appendages with technology, resulting in a fight between it and IT. The stuff of B-Movies however is unlikely to come to fruition.
- Scientific Exploration: So what exactly is going on at CERN? OK they allegedly found the Higgs-Boson God particle, but what they intend to do with it is not entirely clear, neither is the roadmap of experiments. There are clear and present dangers in scientific experiments of this scale, with the potentiality to rip time and space apart, creating a black hole that we all fall into never to return. As Socrates Johnson once said, all we know is that we know nothing, and if Dan Brown’s Angel & Demons anti-matter theme has anything to go by, messing around with the laws of physics we know very little about may see us disappearing up our own arseholes.
- Non Anthropogenic: Extinction Level Events. Meteors, aliens and demons (in that order) have the ability to bring the seven point eight billion population count down to zero in a matter of seconds. Deep Impact, Armageddon, Star Wars, Independence Day and Constantine all depict such events in glorious CGI, let’s just hope Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and Mark Hamill, Will Smith and Keanu Reeves don’t retire any time soon.
The response to all of this from my “son-beyond-his years” was abrupt and to the point:
Dad: “Yes, son?”
Son: “Two things. Firstly, you think too much. Secondly, you’re an idiot…”