I recently noticed a study in the Journal of Geology suggesting that exploding stars in our Milky Way galaxy beginning seven million years ago initiated a domino effect that eventually led to us humans walking (and running) upright on two legs.
It’s a long setup, but the domino theory posits that a series of supernovae blasted powerful cosmic rays in all directions, and here on earth the arriving radiation triggered a chain of events that ionized the atmosphere and made it more conductive.
This greater conductivity, in turn, increased the frequency of lightning strikes, which sparked wild fires that devastated the African forests, leading to large stretches of open savannah.
Our ancestors, who adapted better to life on the new grasslands by walking upright, survived and thrived, leading to Homo Sapiens who have been devastating forests ever since. Who knows, maybe it’s been an homage to the stars that birthed our uprightness.
In any case, we came out of the trees as an upright running animal. But that only made our ancestors one of many running animals. What differentiated us wasn’t just our upright, two-legged locomotion.
Along with our larger brain and opposable thumbs, it was our ability to cool while running upright that allowed us to run down our faster four-legged prey by exhausting them. While we could cool by sweating as we ran, the faster four-legged animals had to stop periodically to pant in order to cool down. It was our continuous movement, our relentless pursuit, that overcame our prey’s superior speed.
This came to be known as “persistence hunting” and it still works today. You hear stories about it from Kenyan friends who recall doing it with their dads when they were kids.
You want to talk about the chosen people? I’d say you have to consider that area of the planet where fossil evidence shows we humans actually got started as a species. All the oldest pre-hominid skeletal remains yet discovered have been found in Africa, whether in Ethiopia and Kenya, or 1500 miles to the west in the Toros-Menalla region in northern Chad.
To our current knowledge, this was the original human model. Everything else north, west, east, and south has been a variation from that original environmental design.
But so successful have we been as a species that we now have so many people in so many places, all disrupting so many other interconnected ecosystems and burning so much fossil fuel, that Mother Nature is beginning to act like an angry parent facing a disagreeable child.
How else to describe this novel Coronavirus pandemic (and its variants), the stronger hurricanes, the more devastating floods, the larger wildfires except as a nature’s purgatives meant to discipline the planet’s bratty child? It’s all of a piece.
As we continue to destroy more and more wildlife habitat to feed and house more and more of us, we bring ourselves into closer contact with what wild animals remain. And with the loss of biodiversity, we are seeing more animals who are carriers of disease put in ever closer contact with us.
Consequently, it becomes more likely that a mosquito will bite an infected bird, say, and then bite one of us. That’s what happened in 1999 to begin the spread of the West Nile virus in the United States.
When I was born, the population in America was 151 million and there were 2.5 billion humans roaming the planet. Today, in 2021, those numbers have swelled to 331 million and 7.8 billion.
You know what cancer is? It is a mass multiplication of deadly cells. That’s what human beings are becoming to planet Earth. Soon there won’t be enough resources to feed everybody, let alone for the special few, the global elites, to prosper.
Let’s be mindful, we scions of the stars. Remember, there are some things we can’t run away from no matter how much we sweat, like ignorance and hubris.