The Illusion Of Progress

Evolution is adaptation to the environment, not progress

Science is this wonderful tool that lets us see how precisely we’re fucked. It lets us vaccinate against diseases that we cause. It lets us solve problems that we create. It lets us understand the Earth that we destroy. Meanwhile, the ‘backwards’ cultures that we destroyed already understood this. They already understood balance with the Earth, and regardless lived in such a way that they weren’t consuming everything around them.

Am I saying indigenous people were good? No, humans are shit. Wherever indigenous people settled, mega-fauna mysteriously disappeared. This isn’t the first wave of extinctions we’ve caused, it’s just the worst. My only point is that we’re not better than them. Our stuff, our science, our technology, it does not make us better. If anything, we are more efficiently worse.

What the is the point of building great towers if they make the seas rise? What is the point of filling Wikipedia with animals we’ve killed? We are people that have lit our house on fire, and are proud of how brightly it burns.

It’s true that we’re not the first people to do this — we’re not even the first species — but we do it so well.

The Last Species To Completely Fuck Themselves

When I say not the first, I mean that life-made climate change has happened before. This isn’t even the worst it’s been (though it is the fastest). Around 3.5 billion years ago a species discovered solar power and farted out so much oxygen that the Earth turned into a fucking snowball. That species was cyanobacteria, AKA pond scum, and like us they completely fucked the Earth, and quite nearly themselves.

This Isn’t The First Climate Crisis We’ve Caused
Life has changed climate for billions of years

The lesson this blue green algae learned, which we have yet to learn, was balance. For the billions of years hence, bacteria has kept the Earth’s thermostat in constant balance. Not for the Earth, which does not give a fuck. For life itself.

What we call climate was not just here, it has been created, maintained and periodically destroyed by trillions of bacteria and mere billions of visible lifeforms that excrete oxygen, consume carbon dioxide and keep things in whack. Life makes the Earth habitable for life. This rock was not made this way. Life made it livable.

Bacteria Is An Immortal, Living God
The life that gave us life

What humans do not understand — what I did not understand until I studied it — is that evolution is not progress. Evolution is adaptation. Evolution is always in relation to an environment. Dinosaurs were pretty fucking evolved, then the environment changed and now we eat them as chicken nuggets. Are we better than dinosaurs? The vital question is better for what? It’s not like our rat ancestors overpowered them, it’s just that the environment changed.

Cyanobacteria did not understand this, but then they hid under the slushly equatorial oceans for a few million years and figured it out. They learned how to live on Earth without killing everybody else. I don’t think that climate change will kill us all, but we certainly have made things unnecessarily shit. We have taken an exceedingly long way around to figure out the fucking ‘colors of the wind’ (Pocahontas should have killed that MF).

Indigenous civilizations lasted thousand of years and would have lasted thousands more. Then white people came and killed them and said ‘look how much better we are’. Yeah, at killing. Now you fuckers are killing the whole Earth. And now it’s “us fuckers” I guess. I’m brown, but I’m not indigenous, we have our own indigenous Veddahs that we tromped over thousands of years ago. Now we’re happily following our colonizers into ‘development’ as well.

This is the illusion of progress. This is the seduction of science. We think that more is better. We think that knowledge is power. We’ve never stopped to ask, power for what? And how much does it cost?

The answer is everything. The loss is it all. The greatest knowledge we will gain is that we are not so smart. Like the cyanobacteria figured out and ancient people knew, that life is bigger than us, older than us, and that we fuck with it at our peril. That we only fuck ourselves.

I don’t believe in progress anymore, because it implies that we exist on some stable graph, and that it’s always going up. It’s just not true. The environment is the X-axis, and it’s moving all over the place. We live on a spinning Earth. We are the Earth. We’re just a great ape with great power that we’ve used to mindlessly fuck ourselves.

There’s literally more distance between a Stegosaurus and a T-Rex than between dinosaurs and us, and we laugh at them for going extinct.
The arrogance.
Sharks have been around since before Saturn had rings, and we act better than them cause we have telescopes.
Pride goeth before the fall.

Humanity is a mere scribble in evolution’s notebook. We could be wiped out and zero fucks would be given. In fact, it is entirely possible that we are not the first ‘intelligent’ life form on Earth. Civilizations could have been here before, and geology just threw out all their stuff. That’s how little impact we would have. Just a little smear of carbon and plutonium, denoting the radioactive skid marks that we are.

The fact is that all visible life could be wiped out — every plant or animal we understand — and life would just start again. The last Oxygen Holocaust exiled anaerobes deep under the sea and they’ve been waiting for us respiring motherfuckers to die. Viruses are 100x more numerous than stars in the known universe, it’s not like nature is wanting for source code. The idea that humans are somehow the pinnacle of progress is a joke. Geologically speaking, we’re a fart in the wind.

This is the illusion that climate change must disabuse us of. We’re not saving the Earth. We’re saving ourselves. We’re saving the conditions that are viable for us. When the cyanobacteria fucked the Earth they figured it out and eventually balanced levels of oxygen, methane, and everything else until we came along and went crazy with the thermostat, telling everybody ‘don’t worry, we invented Twitter, we’re super smart’. We’re dumber than bacteria. All of the cultures we look down on, both human and bacterial, they were right hundreds and billions of years ago. They lived in balance, not in progress. Progress is, in fact, our end.