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Weird ways, or has Nature got a plan?


TUMBY BAY - When I was a little kid I drove my parents to absolute distraction by regularly staying awake for 24 hours at a stretch and then sleeping for 12 hours straight.

They presumed that my circadian rhythm, a natural process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle, indicated I had a serious problem.

When I realised the discomfort my habit was causing them, I reluctantly adjusted my activities to fit their more orderly timetable.

Thinking about this 70 years later, I realise there was nothing wrong with my circadian rhythm or any other rhythm.

What I was doing was simply rebelling against the time wasted by sleeping. The reason I know this is because I’m still doing it.

As I write, it is 1.30 in the morning and I feel most disinclined to go to bed.

I’ve got a similar view about eating. Much as I enjoy the tastes and textures of food and drink, the necessity to regularly consume food bugs me. I’d much rather photosynthesise: absorb sunshine and get on with things.

Pollination also appeals to me. The need to reproduce, enjoyable as it might be, is just another enforced biological imperative and one that probably causes the world more trauma and angst than anything else combined.

Being immutably programmed by biology to do anything seems, after all, an affront to basic freedoms.

A human being with a brain and arms and legs, who gets their energy from the sun and lets the bees take care of reproduction, would be an ideal alternative to the present model.

As a handy by-product it might also mitigate the unpleasantness of aging and dying.

At the moment I have a great interest in the future. I would like to know, for instance, whether humanity will eventually save the planet from climate change.

Unfortunately, I know I’m not going to live long enough to see whether we succeed or stuff it up.

I suspect the latter, but you never know.

If, however, I had some of the characteristics of the bristlecone pine tree, one of which has been dated as still alive after 5,070 years, I might actually hang around to find out.

These are some of my more eccentric nocturnal musings but I do have others. Retrospection in old age throws up lots of weird ideas.

Mother2One of them concerns hard surfaces, like concrete footpaths and bitumen roads.

Whenever I see a jogger pounding along these knee-jarring surfaces the stupidity of this always occurs to me.

That humans have a desperate need to cover perfectly good ground with hard stuff where nothing can grow seems to be a diabolic injustice against nature.

Our planet needs saving not paving.

So accustomed are we to this need, we forget the joys of walking on soft, springy earth covered in many kinds of delightful plants and shrubs.

Walking on pine needles or organic leaf mould in a forest is an absolute pleasure compared to hoofing it on a concrete path, knees and ankles steadily falling apart.

Related to this are motor vehicles. In my part of the world we have a network of bitumen roads winding through vast crop-filled fields.

Along these country roads, big trucks and slightly smaller cars constantly hurtle, wreaking carnage on any poor creature in their way.

At this time of the year the road between Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln is littered with the squashed and maimed bodies of lizards, snakes, rabbits, foxes, stray cats, galahs, parrots and magpies.

Even the wily ravens, that we mistakenly call crows, are getting mown down.

It’s all about speed and even more speed, rush, rush, rush, and bugger anything that gets in the way.

When I see this stuff I can’t help but think of my time in the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea.

Here the pace of life was governed by how fast you wanted to walk and how far you wanted to go.

No roads then and life was easy. Getting from one place to another could fill a whole day.

Now I hear they’re building roads into and over those awesome mountains.

Apart from the possibility that I might be a little bit crazy, these musings point to the inexorable fact that human beings, and this modern world in which we live, are far from ideal. There are very many design faults.

Whatever the original design, it obviously hasn’t worked as intended. Time for another go maybe.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely there’s an opportunity to go back to the drawing board.

Unless of course you consider the possibility that Mother Nature has a plan.

Maybe She knows more about planned obsolescence than we think.

Mother1Maybe that’s what climate change is all about.

Mother Nature just lets humans get on with destroying themselves and then She’ll try another model. She’s been doing that for billions of years. Ask the dinosaurs.

If I can find Her website, I must send Her an email extolling the virtues of photosynthesis, pollination and emulating bristlecone pine trees when She gets around to designing the next sentient being.


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Garrett Roche

Thought provoking in a good way.

Bernard Corden

"Mankind may wring her secrets from nature, and use their knowledge to destroy themselves" - R H Tawney

Paul Oates

Well Phil, as one old man to another, the problem is really about establishing a pecking order. In the great scheme of life on Earth, some succeed where others do not. The essence is all about conforming to the balance of nature rather than challenging it.

Many years ago, among other things I bred zebra finches. I had a large cage and a number of finches sitting on a perch. I placed two nests in the cage and sat back and watched what happened. All the finches eyed both the nests for about 30 seconds. Then there was a mad flurry of feathers and fighting and with a minute, there were two finches sitting in each nest and looking smug and all the rest sitting on the perch looking at the world as if nothing had happened.

If indigenous Australians could survive as a collective group of people for at least 60,000 years in some very difficult and challenging environments, why is it we can't stabilise our global population in the same way?

If Darwin's theory is correct and holds true, what does that mean for the human species as a whole?

What does that mean for the individual?

Can you better elucidate the results of your prognostications and prophecies in the early hours of the morning?

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