Sunday, December 21, 2014

Solstice thoughts

This is really the best day of the year. The shortest day. The day when light and sun begin their long slow increase, and the days lengthen. A time for reflection and hope.

Turn on any news channel or news report, however, and hope seems stillborn. We are offered a dismally dismal view of things. We all know this. More and more I have stopped listening to news, even NPR and BBC.

What we need is fair and balanced news. I don't mean Fox.

Consider that humans are one species that shares the planet with about 8.7 million other species. Or that Homo sapiens (perhaps a misnomer) has occupied Earth for a tiny fraction  of the planet's history, while other species (Say, lamprey and coelacanths) have persisted for most of the Phanerozoic, and there are some species of bacteria that have likely been here since the Archean.

So, what would the news be like if we set aside our hubris-driven world-view, and gave proportional time to everybody else?  Or to discoveries that might lead us -- and everybody else into a promising future.  Or just to things that are inspiring and though-provoking?

For example:
New and more precise dating of the Daccan Traps basalts show that their eruption coincided very closely with dinosaur extinction, making them a full partner in the event with meteor impact. (OK, maybe this isn't so uplifting, except that without their extinction there might not be humans.)

Crows are almost as capable of "advanced relationship thinking" as we are, and may exceed dogs, cats, and chimpanzees in this talent.

Bacteria have been found that live deep within the Earth's crust-- which suggests that similar life may still me found on Mars.

Oh, and there's the methane on Mars. And water.

And so much more.

ON this eve of hope, my wish is that somehow we can turn to the news that instills a sense of wonder, not despair.  Maybe not for the whole of the evening news. Maybe just half of it. Let's give the other 8.7 million species their due. 

And have a wonder-full year ahead.


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