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‘End of Nature’ Question Of The Week: Are ‘We As Gods Upon This Earth’ Or ‘More Like Chewbacca in Star Wars’?

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"‘End of Nature’ Question Of The Week: Are ‘We As Gods Upon This Earth’ Or ‘More Like Chewbacca in Star Wars’?"

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As Stewart Brand put it: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”

…. If we are as gods upon this Earth, then we are peculiarly bumbling gods.

we are more like Chewbacca in Star Wars, pounding the walls of the ship in hopes it will continue to go.

USFWS Pacific, via Flickr

by Rob McDonald, via The Nature Conservancy

The tropical sun rises early over Palmyra Atoll, shining light on a beautiful coral reef, a sliver of an island, and little else. Pamyra is 1,000 miles south of from the nearest major airport and city, a little speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Signs of military activity from World War II remain — an airfield, some old buildings — but most days there are less than two dozen people on the whole island, scientific researchers there to study.

Palymra Atoll’s remoteness was what led The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect it in 2000, for it has one of the most ecologically intact coral reef ecosystems in the world, with a diversity of fishes and corals that have been lost from reefs with more human activity. And yet even here, human actions have put coral reefs in danger of being destroyed. Climate change will warm ocean waters, killing many of Palmyra’s corals, and trash from all over the world washes up on its beaches. Decisions by people in Beijing or New York to drive to work will affect how many greenhouse gases are emitted, which will control the severity of climate change, which in turn will determine the fate of Palmyra.

From climate change to deforestation to water flows to soil erosion, the impacts of human actions are now having global impact. Some scientists are calling this new era of human domination “the Anthropocene.” In a recent front-page article, the Washington Post even revived Kenneth Boulding’s famous description of “Spaceship Earth,” a craft whose life-support system we must maintain if we want to survive.

Many environmentalists feel regret about the thoroughgoing way people have domesticated the natural world to suit our interests. Bill McKibben has even movingly written about “the end of nature” — at least, if “nature” is conceived as something separate and apart from people. But a recent flood of books and articles have a response to McKibben: get over it. Whether intentionally or not, these authors argue, humans are managing many of the major ecological processes on the planet.

From this point of view, what we feel morally about past human actions is irrelevant to the future. McKibben and his ilk (including me!) may mourn the disappearance of wild nature, places that are “no man’s garden” (to use Daniel Botkin’s term); while others may be indifferent to its loss.

Many of the thinkers of the Anthropocene have focused on a very important practical question: Given that we are already managing the planet’s natural systems, how can we make the domestication of nature smarter — both in the sense of increased productivity and enhanced sustainability?

Or, as Stewart Brand put it: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”

I spend most of my professional life as a conservation scientist working to answer pieces of this practical question, and I believe answering it is key to our civilization continuing to thrive. Our domestication of the Earth’s surface is almost certain to increase as global population and economies continue to grow and consume more resources. But in the rush to embrace better management of the planet as the new paradigm of environmentalism, we shouldn’t fail to ask a more basic question: Do we actually know enough about how nature works to actively manage many ecosystem processes — or even improve them? There’s a gradient of human control over ecosystems, from the heavily managed lawn of my apartment building to the bits of relatively wild nature like Palmyra. Even if humans are impacting every point on the Earth’s surface, our degree of management varies greatly. If we are masters of the planet, can we manage or replace everything natural?

To put it another way, humans depend on nature for a lot of things that allow them to survive and prosper. These benefits from nature are called by ecologists, rather dryly, “ecosystem services.” Some of these are tangible goods that come off managed lands, like the food we all eat. But less managed lands can be important too. Many cities depend on forests to maintain the quality of water that runs off into their reservoir, either by filtering out pollutants or by preventing erosion. If the forest wasn’t there the city could build a treatment plant to increase water quality, but at much greater financial cost. Ecosystem services can be more intangible, like the role that wild pollinators play in pollinating some food crops. In places where wild pollinators are gone, humans have stepped in as “bee wranglers” who drive around in trucks full of bee hives, providing pollination to those farmers that can pay for it. If we are planetary gardeners, do we have the technical skill to replace or actively manage all the world’s ecosystem services?

In asking that question, I should add that I reject the fundamental pessimism of some “deep” ecologists who argue that the biosphere’s exquisitely balanced processes of self-regulation could never be equaled by wise human management (or, more darkly, that human management can never be wise).  I see no reason to believe that, if scientists can discover the bizarre world of particle physics and general relativity, that they cannot also discover how to sustainably manage ecosystems.

But our track record of such management thus far is not terribly encouraging.

Bumbling gods

About a decade ago, thousands of the world’s ecologists and natural resource managers came together to work on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Published in 2005, the Assessment sought to quantify humanity’s dependence on ecosystem services and the trends in those ecosystem services over time. Out of 24 major ecosystem services that were examined, only nine were being used sustainably or were at least being maintained over time.

Most of these success stories were for what are called “provisioning services,” like crop and livestock production. There are strong economic incentives to manage the landscape for these services, because they often produce tangible goods that can be sold at market. While this management may not necessarily be sustainable over the long term (people tend to discount how their actions affect others, especially future generations), there is at least an economic incentive to maintain provisioning ecosystem services. Moreover, humanity has had two millennia of practice in agriculture, so it should be reassuring we have gotten better at it over time. Particularly in the last century, with the so-called Green Revolution, humanity’s ability to produce food from the land has greatly increased. Our proven technical ability to feed 7 billion people (setting aside the political obstacles to overcoming global hunger) is one of humanity’s greatest technological achievements.

That finding, however, still leaves 15 of 24 major planetary ecosystem services that were being degraded over time. Most of these are common resources, like fisheries or clean freshwater. While there are clearly examples of these kinds of common resources being sustainably used, they are in the aggregate still declining globally.

And even for those ecosystem services for which we are managing nature adequately, we are still dependent on other “regulating” services to maintain production. Without the world’s existing stock of topsoil, it would be very hard for farmers to maintain sufficient food production to feed 7 billion people. Chemical fertilizers that allow us to add the big three nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) have played a crucial role in increasing global food output, but we still need natural soil.

One unintended consequence of our widespread use of chemical fertilizers is that much of it ends up in waterways. Some fraction of applied nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen end up in plants, but much of it washes down into rivers and lakes, eventually moving downstream into estuaries. Fertilizer is relatively cheap now, and most farmers are not considered legally responsible for runoff from their property, so there is little incentive to limit excess nutrient runoff. Once nitrogen and phosphorus make their way into freshwater or marine ecosystems, they cause a massive growth of algae and other primary producers. This reduces the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water, leading to large-scale dead zones (hypoxia), where many fish species will die. Many major estuaries now have dead zones (including one at the outlet of the Mississippi that is often bigger than the state of Massachusetts). These dead zones have dramatically reduced the ecosystem services these estuaries can provide to humanity.

The basic techniques to reduce excess nutrient runoff (less fertilizer application, and then riparian buffer strips or other wetland areas that can slow the flow of water to rivers and filter excess nutrients) are well understood, but there has been little substantial progress made in stopping the slow expansion of dead zones. There are challenges at many levels that must be overcome. Scientifically, the world needs cheap yet precise ways to apply just the right amount of fertilizer at times when it is needed by the plants but when rainfall is unlikely to wash it to the see. While such technology exists, it is far too expensive for many of the world’s farmers. Economically and politically, farmers need incentives to limit excess nutrient runoff. This has proved a hard policy task, because there are many individual actors that each contribute to the slow degradation of a common societal resource. Designing and implementing an efficient policy program to support changes in farmer practices that reduce runoff remains a challenge for humanity.

Phosphorus is actually an interesting example of a slowly emerging environmental challenge that humanity must solve. Unlike nitrogen, which we can obtain from the air, and potassium, which is abundant, the supplies of mineable phosphorus globally are limited. The United States’ supply of phosphorus, mostly from a large mine near Tampa, FL, may only satisfy our domestic requirements for a few more decades. Globally, there is perhaps a century of phosphorus supply remaining at current use rates. As this resource gets scarce, its price will increase and make new extraction of sources of phosphorus economically viable. It will also provide an economic incentive to farmers to minimize any waste in their application of phosphorus, much of which is now not absorbed by crops but washed down into streams and lakes.

It is also worthwhile to remember than in our quest to solve one environmental problem, we sometimes accidentally create another. In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Jr., and his research team finally stumbled upon a chemical refrigerant they had spent years looking for — one that could replace some dangerous chemicals currently in use in that industry which killed or maimed many workers. Even better, the chemical was so unreactive that Midgley famously inhaled the gas at a demonstration, to prove it wasn’t dangerous. Midgley’s chemical, Freon, went on the market a few years later, introducing a new class of chemicals to the world, chloroflurocarbons (CFCs). The rest is history. It took decades before scientists realized that CFCs could remove the Earth’s ozone layer, essential for life’s persistence, through a chemical reaction in the stratosphere.

If we are as gods upon this Earth, then we are peculiarly bumbling gods. Perhaps we are like the classical Roman gods, blessed with power but (for now at least) full of ignorance.

Reverse engineering a flying spaceship

On September 26, 1991, eight people shut the door inside a huge, 3-acre enclosure, complete with replicas of a working rainforest and coral reefs. The goal of Biosphere 2 was simple: see if people could maintain a self-sufficient, enclosed ecosystem for any length of time. Biosphere 1, in case you’re wondering, is the Earth itself. The base was initially well stocked with the plants and animals that people would need to survive. Nothing, not even air, was to go in or out. For 2 years, the people inside Biosphere 2 were to be self-sufficient.

The mission was ultimately a failure for a complex set of reasons, about which whole books have been written. For one thing, the crew never managed to produce enough food, lost a great deal of weight, and eventually had to be fed supplemental food from outside Biosphere 2. A few invasive plants and animals exploded in population, causing more problems. “I didn’t expect the cockroaches,” said Jen Molnar, currently the director of the Conservancy Sustainability Science Team, who worked as a lab tech in Biosphere 2 several years later when the facility was transitioning to being a traditional scientific research site. “They were so thick they would cover the wooden walkways and you couldn’t walk without stepping on them.”

The biggest issue from the standpoint of human health was the wild swings in carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Big chunks of soil had been imported whole into the site, and the organic matter within them was decaying, releasing carbon dioxide. At the same time oxygen was being slowly absorbed into Biosphere 2’s concrete walls, an event that seemed obvious in hindsight but was not expected by the engineers planning the mission — unlike Biosphere 2, most normal buildings intentionally allow external air in for ventilation, so this phenomenon is not something that is usually a problem. Even when Molnar worked at Biosphere 2 years later, workers had to sign a waiver acknowledging they knew about the abnormally high carbon dioxide levels. “I asked how high the levels got and the woman hiring me just laughed and shrugged,” said Molnar.

In many ways, Biosphere 2 is an imperfect example of human’s capacity to manage the Earth. There were some disastrous personality clashes during the project, and an odd “survivalist” mentality that permeated the whole mission. Some of those involved saw the world as quickly heading toward an ecological catastrophe, and wanted to create something like Noah’s Ark, an encapsulation of complete ecosystems. Moreover, it has been 20 years, and ecosystem science has advanced significantly. It would be extremely interesting to create Biosphere 3, as a rigorous scientific and engineering experiment to fully sustain humans in a totally contained space for a set period of time. Such an experiment could provide lessons for ecosystem science as well as for space programs like NASA that might someday have to set up long-term bases on another planet.

Apart from the specific problems of the Biosphere 2 mission, which were legion, the overall conclusion is clear: humans are very far from being able to fully replace, or even maintain, everything they need from the natural world. For all of humanity’s knowledge about nature, and for our enormous increase in the power we can exert over the natural world, we can still only at best partially manage and maintain Spaceship Earth. Instead of being the proud commander of Spaceship Earth, we are more like Chewbacca in Star Wars, pounding the walls of the ship in hopes it will continue to go. It’s not enough for those who write about the Anthropocene to say to humanity “get over it” and accept the mantle of global stewardship. In the Anthropocene, the real challenge for the world’s scientists is: get working, and quickly fill in our considerable gaps in knowledge and practice. We have to get much, much better at managing and maintaining the only spaceship we’ve got, if we hope to continue on our species’ voyage.

Rob McDonald is a vanguard scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Strategies Division. This piece was originally published at The Nature Conservancy and was reprinted with permission.

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36 Responses to ‘End of Nature’ Question Of The Week: Are ‘We As Gods Upon This Earth’ Or ‘More Like Chewbacca in Star Wars’?

  1. SecularAnimist says:

    Rob McDonald wrote: “Whether intentionally or not, these authors argue, humans are managing many of the major ecological processes on the planet.”

    There’s only one word for that view, and it’s a word that may not be acceptable to the moderators:

    Bullshit.

    Humans are WRECKING many of the major ecological processes on the planet.

    Humans are DEGRADING and DESTROYING many of the major ecological processes on the planet.

    Humans are demonstrating a complete inability to even manage OURSELVES, let alone “manage ecological processes” — good grief, that’s the whole essence of the global warming problem!

    It’s like saying that someone’s stage 4 cancer is “managing many of the major physiological processes in his body”, or that the bull is “managing” the china shop.

    It’s just such ignorant, arrogant hubris that is driving our rampant destruction of the Earth’s biosphere.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It reminds me of an article in the far Right, allegedly ‘liberal’ ‘The Guardian’ today. A group of ‘researchers’ at some ‘University’ in the U.K. have ‘discovered’ that the recent wet summers in the UK have been caused by warmer north Atlantic waters, and, guess what? It will all soon reverse itself, because these things are cyclical. Climate change gets a brief, almost dismissive, mention, and, even better, the melting of the Arctic summer sea ice is also caused by this warm water, so we can all relax. Thank God for that!

    • aenoch says:

      These “ASGOD” creatures are obviously from some other planet. Actual people that are the product of three and a half billion years of life on Earth don’t even begin to think that they can “manage” this planet. Earth will shed humans and human like space aliens like my dog sheds his winter coat. Species come and species go. Planets come and planets go. Stars and galaxies come and go but the Universe is infinite and forever.

  2. gregorylent says:

    time for acceptance of mystical means of knowing reality.

  3. SecularAnimist says:

    Rob McDonald wrote: “I see no reason to believe that, if scientists can discover the bizarre world of particle physics and general relativity, that they cannot also discover how to sustainably manage ecosystems.”

    Well, I see an obvious reason: there is no evidence, none whatsoever, that ecosystems either NEED “management”, or that human beings have anything remotely resembling the understanding and wisdom to “manage” them.

    If you look at societies that have existed sustainably for extended periods of time — e.g. 10,000 years of sustainable agriculture in China — what you find is societies that have learned to manage their own behavior, and their own use of ecosystems, to live within their means.

    That has been done, and it can be done, and it must be done.

    With all due respect, what’s the point of even engaging with this arrogant nonsense? It’s like talking to an alcoholic with cirrhosis who tells you that the problem is not his guzzling of booze, the problem is that his liver is stupid and the solution is for him to “manage” its function.

    • Mike Roddy says:

      It’s Nature Conservancy, now corporate, more than McDonald. Big money funders have made formerly aggressive organizations like them and Sierra Club, NRDC, WWF etc rancid shadows of their original missions.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The problem is capitalism, which absolutely insists on ever-increasing exploitation in search of ever greater profits. This, of course, is the modus operandi of the cancer, and has, now, inevitably, reached the stage of killing its host, humanity.

    • quokka says:

      Actually, there is evidence that national parks and nature conservation areas do better when properly managed. That includes protection from humans doing things they shouldn’t be doing, control of invasive species etc etc.

      If protected areas are to be some sort of moderator of biodiversity loss, then this deserves a lot more attention.

  4. G Ennis says:

    Yes our ability to “manage” ecosystems does seem to be problematic particularly as we experience more extreme weather. An excellent example in Canada is this river which has almost dried out.

    http://www.brandonsun.com/national/breaking-news/cowichan-river-in-danger-of-drying-up-imperilling-salmon-runs-173021361.html?viewAllComments=y

  5. fj says:

    We are mobile ecosystems which should be taken to the logical extreme.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    Good ones, Secular.

    We are Chewbacca. Today’s LA Times has a very good article about oyster death from acidification, but throws up its hands about a solution, describing emissions and the resulting ocean death as inevitable. That’s the Tribune talking, which, like all corporate media, only speaks truth on its terms: forget about addressing our GHG belching.

    Brand, a victim of too much acid, is R2D2, muttering bad data about nuclear power and cozying up to corporations. He should have stuck to tepees and patchouli oil.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      They do not give a stuff what happens after they are dead, and the ‘presstitutes’ know that speaking truth to capitalist power would terminate their glittering careers, with extreme prejudice.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    Anthropogenic effects are altering ecosystems worldwide so rapidly that our powers of observation and interpretation are sorely taxed.

    Once we’ve interfered, we can’t walk away and honestly expect a perturbed system to revert to a previous condition all by itself. We have to think of ourselves as part of the system, not as an external user.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      We can, and will, shortly, ‘walk away’. And then, the source of all these anthropogenic perturbations being but a dismal memory, the natural systems will slowly heal themselves and revert to their previous richness and diversity. I, naively, being green, in my salad days rather imagined that humanity would wake up and see that it was destroying the great beauty and majesty of life on this planet, and cease its destructive ways. Of course, as I had begun to intuitively understand, from nasty acquaintance with horrible ‘people’, there is a certain fraction of humanity that is innately evil, they congregate together, reinforcing their viciousness, they have created a world system, capitalism, that empowers them and entrenches their destructive ways, and they rule humanity and are driving it to destruction.

  8. Tami Kennedy says:

    We certainly have “not” shown our ability to successfully feed 7 billion people! Also we are having a negative impact on the quality of water affecting the global population’s health with our poor management of plant fertilizers, weed and pest controllers, also the physical management of water, dams…

    There is a possibility of adding 3 billion to the population by the end of the century. Can we successfully continue to GM crops and improve performance of chemicals to feed a growing population?

    If we listen to Exxon’s CEO geoengineering will be just another problem readily solved when the time comes. But he isn’t even willing to accept it’s time to start thinking about it.

    Drastic engineering and science are definitely needed to handle the global environment with rapidly expanding population. Might be time to start putting the dollars there instead of improving F-22, F-35 or other military systems taking scholastic and fiscal resources.

  9. peter whitehead says:

    The film ‘Towering Inferno’ sums it up. Corporate greed constructs a society based on pointless blingy overconsumption but fails to stabilize the infrastructure on which it all depends. The outcome is inevitable.

  10. Theodore says:

    The power to destroy the earth comes with the obligation to not destroy the earth. Management is not optional. Management is our duty by virtue of our potential to damage and destroy. Whether we are good at it or not is a secondary issue, and does not influence the fact of our obligation to do the best we can.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      ‘We’ are not the problem, as most ordinary, sane, human beings know that it is a crime to destroy life. It is ‘Them’ the insatiably greedy and destructive capitalist elites who are the problem.

      • We could blame the advertising from the Capitalist’s big corporations, but I think the ordinary, sane, etc., should also take some responsibility. Topical rainforests are being clear-cut or burned for grazing cattle for fastfood hamburgers consumed by first world people. Grain fed livestock takes food away from the starving poor overseas and also has a greenhouse gas impact perhaps as large as motor vehicles.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          So, who do you blame? The drug pushers or the junkies. I know where I’d place most of the moral responsibility, particularly when junk lifestyles are all that an increasingly large fraction of humanity can afford.

  11. Theodore says:

    The question “do we know enough?” is not the right question. Our problem in managing ecosystems does not come from lack of knowledge, but from our inability to translate knowledge into an appropriate political agenda. We are creatures of controlling inhibition. Many of those inhibitions are legal, political and cultural. The key to success is to put our inhibitions into a state of flux so that they may be reconstructed. Without such reconstruction we are frozen in a matrix of our traditions, impotent observers of our collective misfortune and the misfortune of all life on earth. Cultural revolution is the potent solvent of our traditional inhibitions.

  12. Jed Bickman says:

    I’m shocked I get to be the first person to say it:
    Chewbacca was an excellent pilot and mechanic, and the wookies are a technologically advanced people; just because he lacks human vocal chords doesn’t make him incompetent (as humans are, regarding the environment). Speciesist. :)

  13. Chris Winter says:

    Are we as gods upon this Earth?

    The majority of us, I think, are more like Pakleds. “We look for things that make us go.”

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Pakled

  14. Teinoaole says:

    Don’t know who Chewbacca is or was, but for an important insight in how humans would manage a :generation ship” in space that must have an earth ecology of course, read:
    The Birthday of the World, by Ursula K. Le Guin, © 2002, the last story: Paradises Lost.
    A spaceship going close but not past the speed of light will take 5 or 6 generations to reach the planet that unmanned rovers have found to have am earth like atmosphere and gravity. Of course everything, absoltely everything, must be recycled. The population strictly controlled, not only in number but in behavior, thinking, dreaming.
    The third and fourth generations begin to be too different… read the book. Not what you think!
    It affirmed my firm belief that we are NOT gods, that understanding and controlling an always changing planetary ecology is totally unsustainable. We humans have been on this planet for only a hundred plus thousand years. For most of that time our talent was to adapt to whatever environment we found ourselves in: the arctic, deserts, jungles, high mountains, atolls. But we survived by adapting to what our particular part of Nature offered in food and material for shelter.
    Not all that long ago we began to think we were better than all other Life, inventing agriculture which is controlling nature. We invented OWNING, a concept never known. With owning came losing the seeing of wholes (forests) but seeing differences (trees), hierarchies. Bosses and slaves. Today: 400 individuals owning more wealth than the bottom 180 million Americans.
    Not only Almyra but all over the world it is totally clear that we cannot run this planet. It runs us.
    We are IN the planetary ecology, not outside of it. We humans of today are living a lethal illusion.

  15. Andy says:

    You’d best know how something works before you take it apart. We are so far away from that knowledge at this point that the best hope we have for a sustained “spaceship earth” is to let enough of it alone so that it keeps running as is into the foreseeable future.

    As Aldo Leopold said “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts”.

    So far our successes at managing even single populations of animals have been few and often fleeting.

    I guess I agree with the “deep” ecologists. Humanity needs to change; nature has it figured out, we don’t. Another inconvenient truth.

  16. Paul Klinkman says:

    “Why on earth are you here? / You’re not the little thing of fear.” — John Lennon, “Instant Karma”

    I don’t care if we’re calling ourselves gods or bumblers because they’re just labels. What counts is that we do the good things.

    These fabulously rich bumblers who buy our Congress and wreck our world, we don’t need to buy their oil at any price whatsoever. However, to do an excellent job of shunning all business with the handful of them for their lifetimes, we need to agree that we as a community will make our own energy, and then we will sell energy for labor and other products entirely within our own gated business community.

  17. From the Article: >>Do we actually know enough about how nature works to actively manage many ecosystem processes — or even improve them? <<

    Obviously we do not. The best thing that we do know how to do is restore as many and as much of ecosystems to a state of either pre-technology human influences or to a state of no human interference. We can do this with laws, taxes to make degrading the environment more expensive than not disturbing it, and if need be, force of arms. Consider Whaling and overfishing; we can make all the agreements that anyone can imagine, but "independent operators" can decimate a reef as described or extinct an endangered species. If we interdict or capture the vessels of these "treaty violators", they will have no way to further disrupt these ecosystems.

    I'm so angry at the killing of elephants for ivory and of many endangered species for "magical ingredients", I can imagine a better use for first world military systems. We could put much more money and/or social rewards for the local game wardens and use fast transport and surveillance systems to locate and get the game wardens to the poachers.

    I realize that the larger problem is food and work, maybe more productive farming, for the lower classes of those in the poorest countries. This gets into educating these populations and doing something so that surplus crops can be moved to market. A fairly "green" way of doing this could be locally built all-terrain cargo bicycles, rather than trying to build and maintain roads and use motor vehicles.

    Probably thousands of methods are possible, the problem is getting funding for all of these efforts.

  18. ColoradoBob says:

    The problem is capitalism, which absolutely insists on ever-increasing exploitation in search of ever greater profits. This, of course, is the modus operandi of the cancer, and has, now, inevitably, reached the stage of killing its host, humanity.

    Amen

  19. ColoradoBob says:

    Well we won’t “mangers” very much longer , because this “uncontrolled experiment” we’ve been running on this shell of gases for the last 175 years is about to burn down the lab.

  20. Jim Adcock says:

    Actually, we are more like Jabba the Hut, or perhaps make it the Vogons. “We have met the Vogons, and they are us.”

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      Nothing more than a right-of-way along the route of the Pan-Galactic Highway. Oh dear! This is going to get messy. “Sooooo long, it’s been good to know ya’”.

  21. Kelli says:

    Theres already a way to “manage” the environment with[out] destroying it by out of control science experiments: permaculture.