A sense of appreciation for hundreds of millions of years of nature, and its recent demise, is imperative for us; otherwise, our trajectory into the future will be reckless in the extreme.
There was no such thing as a television less than a hundred years ago. Computers, which are now like proteins in the great beast of society, have even less tenure. Think about how electricity, in a slice a geological second, transformed the nightside of our planet into a pimple-patch of lights. Think about watching the peace of Orion, and then all at once an orbital pest of satellite cuts across his waist.
Before our Moment, evolution produced mighty trees of variegated creatures, many with skills that are unbelievable. To name a few: the flame of fireflies; the camouflage of chameleons; the marksmanship of bats; the grandiosity of the brontosaur. The exquisite butterfly wing culminates three stages of metamorphosis. With many insects, the larva, the nymph, and the mature, span an elemental range: from stream to soil to sky.
The mathematics and majesties of nature are patient and reliable. Their vast scale effloresces with creation. The elegant simplicity of the physical formulas that cradle these miracles cannot limit or define them. We are surrounded by teeming beauty, and so we forget to marvel. We not only forget, we destroy. In our headlong ache to achieve more power, more thrill, more success, we transform the world into our possession, relying on the bully-might of our technologies. We arrest evolution and substitute our own genetic tampering. We slaughter untold species to extinction, modify others to serve us instead of run free. We amass power enough to annihilate the continents in a hell rain of tens of thousands of explosions. Our war-lust means that every day we risk a "nuclear winter," which would ban sunlight from touching the ground.
No green would grow for a dozen years. The soil would soak with lethal and almost immortal radiation. It is impossible not to wonder if life itself could persist.
Computers are essential to our Beast. I described them above as a protein in the biochemistry of the collective; and in that role they act as catalyst, accelerating our gluttony for data. The time will soon come when we--already married to computers, which are smaller and smaller--will wear them intimately, closer even than our current relationship, tete-a-tete, with cell phones.
What are we becoming and why?
We need to remember that our time, this Moment of Circuitry, is a dust speck in the life of Gaea. Most of us rush from stress to stress, paycheck to paycheck, focused on a few simple yet overwhelming goals, ones that do not relent for spiritual or philosophical contemplation.
It’s up to you. You can be a chemical in the cybersystem of the Beast, as dutiful and unthinking as your computer, or you can be something much more.