Mother Earth is sick. She is very sick. She is suffering from late stage cancer. Yet she could still recover, if she could destroy the all malignant cancer cells, and eliminate the source, which she can achieve by herself. For her own survival, as she has been surviving for the past 4.5 billion years, she would do it.
I realized this as I was reading 'Vanishing Face of Gaia', by James Lovelock, who has been trying to open our eyes to the fact that Earth Mother is truly a living entity. (by the way, this treasure too I found at the British Council Library, Colombo branch, undiscovered, unexplored).
Gaia would have self diagnosed and identified the cancer cells, which have proliferated like a virus all over the surface of Gaia, destroying all other life forms and all her mineral and natural wealth. The cancer cells are mankind, seven billion cancer cells, increasing every second. Gaia would have to destroy all the cancer cells, without leaving a trace, if she is to survive for another 4 billion or more years. 'The Clone' (2012) was written on this premise that Gaia would survive, even after mankind becomes extinct.
Man himself is aware that Mother Earth or Gaia is dying. Anyone who accepts the Earth is dying, has already accepted that she is alive, for if she was not alive then she cannot die. But man refuses to see and accept that he himself is killing her. Thus his attempts to cure the cancer is almost similar to his attempts to cure cancer in man himself. All the research, experiments and trials are claimed to be aimed at finding a cure for cancer. It is surprising that man, who has been able to find solutions to almost every problem, who has been able to overcome every obstacle in his path, has been unable to find a cure for cancer. Could it be because a permanent cure for cancer would limit the market, because the patients would stop using the drug, once they are cured. Today money keeps pouring in till the patient dies of the cancer, or very often, dies of the adverse effects of the drugs themselves. Till then the drug barons sell the drugs to treat the side effects too.
That is why man has not made serious research into the prevention of cancer.
Lovelock talks about the Carbon footprint so popular with environmentalists. "Too many also think of the profit to be made from carbon trading. It is not the carbon footprint alone that harms the Earth; the people's footprint is larger and more deadly."
Lovelock questions the carrying capacity of the Earth for people. He speculates that as carnivores there is room enough for only about 10 million, but as gatherers (or vegetarians) it could be 100 million or more. But Earth is now carrying 7 billion. Since most humans are carnivorous, this means we are seventy thousand times overpopulated. Just like cancer cells. We are the cancer.
If Gaia decides to get rid of the excess burden, and still allow 10 million people to survive, who would survive? Who would be the fittest to survive? How would we react, if we get advance warning?
Till recent times almost all sci-fi literature has been based on the idea that man would destroy himself, by nuclear or biological wars, or by other means of destruction. But now we have cli-fi novels, climate fiction, (Life Into Arts 27-08-2014) exploring all possibilities within man's imagination to find how nature would destroy us, or destroy Gaia herself.
Among the authors who took up the concept of a living planet is Isaac Asimov in 'Foundation's Edge' (1982) and 'Foundation and Earth' (1984) where he calls the ideal planetary state as Gaia, where all living things taking part in a planetary consciousness, are striving towards a 'Galaxia' with the entire galaxy as a living organism. The western view is that the idea goes back 2400 years to Plato and his Timaeus. Many writers have used this idea since then. Another popular sci-fi author, Brian Aldiss in his 'Helliconia' trilogy has the planets of Helliconia and Earth as the main characters in his story. Orson Scott and Kathryn H. Kidd titled their novel 'Lovelock' (1994), introducing the term "Gaiaology' as a new science.
Poems have been written about Gaia and a living Earth, by Tennessee Williams - 'Heavenly Grass', by Oscar Wilde - 'We Are Made One with What We Touch and See', and Nancy Vedder-Shults - 'Song to Gaia'.
Biophilia was a concept introduced by Edward O. Wilson in his book of the same title, claiming a human dependence on nature that extends far beyond the simple issues of material and physical sustenance to encompass as well the human craving for aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual meaning and satisfaction. That is probably what we need, to save mankind and Mother Earth.
Lovelock explores the scientific possibilities, of the threats posed today. Scientists are aware of the dangers and the risks, but probably they are also too confused. They are stranded in a labyrinth, running along new paths, which they themselves have labelled Geophysiology, Biogeochemistry, and many others, combining many scientific fields together, but always including nature somewhere in the word.
Yet all these new words, and new theories, new proposals all seem childish, amateurish, and impractical, just as the visions of the sci-fi and cli-fi writers, and sometimes sillier than the creations of the 'Dream Merchants'
We do not know if Lovelock, Wilson and Margulis had studied the teachings on Paticca Samuppada, or the Law of Dependent Origination, but if we try to understand Gaia in the light of Buddha's teachings, it would be easier to confront all the critics. It would also be easier to find ways and means to save Gaia, while saving mankind too.