Look Ma, No Humans
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Look Ma, No Humans • Posted: Jan 07, 2019 12:53:04Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Well, not exactly. True, there is little evidence of humans in these particular images. But, nearby Park City UT is inhabited by humans. And, though there are no buildings or wires or vehicles or tracks in the snow to be seen, someone made the photographs. I did. Plus, the landscape depicted is not totally natural. The foreground has been cleared and reshaped to accommodate a road. The point is, in today’s world, there is precious little landscape that hasn’t been plowed, dug up, burned down, carved out, reshaped, fenced, bridged, fished to collapse, contaminated, polluted, paved over, or built upon by humans. Like swarms of ants devouring an abandoned picnic, we humans have swarmed across the entire surface of the globe, capriciously changing it wherever we have tread, and generally not for the better. Freshly fallen snow and a selective eye, more or less, cover over the mess we’ve left behind. But, they definitely do not repair the damage we’ve wrought.

Humans working together can and have learned to consider and control the consequences of their actions. But ignorance, willful and not, along with selfish disregard for consequence, seem to be outpacing the spread of responsible enlightenment.

In early 2018, the Army Corps of Engineers completed a survey of levees along the Mississippi River. Those levees were designed and built to mitigate flooding along the entire stretch of the river, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. By law, changes to Mississippi River levees require review and permit by the Corps of Engineers. What the Corps’ survey revealed was that upwards of 40% of Mississippi River levees had been changed over the years by local governments without review or permit. Why? Because local governments put self-interest above the common good.

Sure, increase the height of local levees and local properties gain increased protection from high waters. But, water needs to go somewhere. Where it goes is over levees that have not been raised, causing increased damage to those local municipalities. The purpose of the original Army Corps design was to equally improve flood protection for all municipalities along the river, not just for some at the expense of others.

A similar situation is occurring in the western US where those with money are drilling deeper for water, further lowering the underlying water table for everyone, including those who cannot afford to drill deeper. Such examples go on and on.

Survival of the fittest, you say? I don’t think so.

This ill-considered trend we’ve chosen for ourselves, of ignorance and selfish disregard for consequence outpacing responsible enlightenment, puts everyone at risk and could very likely result in the extinction of humankind altogether, as squabbling escalates to war and hunger and disease undermine us all.

A new year has begun. The undeniable facts are in. Humans are most definitely to blame. Responsible enlightenment, coupled with coordinated collective action, could still change the course we’ve set for ourselves.

But, will it?

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
Park City